OPENING:  29 May 2014, 6pm, Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS Business School), Melville Road, Illovo

OPENING SPEAKER:  Brian McKechnie, architect, heritage consultant, PHRAG committee member.

Brian has a keen interest in Johannesburg and the preservation of city heritage as a catalyst for urban regeneration.

DURATION:29 May 2014 to 19 June 2014



Looking up is an exhibition of drawings in charcoal and pastel celebrating the architectural heritage of downtown Johannesburg.  The exhibition reflects the artist’s passion for the iconic architectural heritage of Johannesburg that for over a century have been beacons of progress and testament to the gold rush.

The show is depicted in various parts – a formal series of grand land mark buildings, the legendary scramble for the skyline in the 1930ʻs, and the surge of art deco influences in design.  A selection of little known smaller buildings and jewels of the city are also depicted.

Walsh’s drawings are rendered in monochromatic shades of charcoal and pastel. He chooses to omit anything that corrupts the detail, street clutter is ignored, drawing the eye upward. The detail in the work captures the technical and structural magnificence of the buildings, both big and small, and in particular the outstanding Art deco influences of the 1930ʼs.


“When I arrived in Johannesburg for the first time in the early 1980’s from Zimbabwe, the inner city was where we lived, worked and played. There was so much happening at street level I never thought to look up at what hovered above me.” says the artist Nick Walsh.

“Early one morning many years later I was working on a film shoot in JHB and the company had shut down a portion of Commissioner Street to photograph a car for an advertisement. The street was suddenly deserted and I looked up at the buildings above me and was instantly smitten.

This started my love affair with the city and in particular the outstanding Art deco influences of the 1930’s.

ABOUT THE ARTIST   Walsh was born into a tobacco farming family in Zimbabwe and educated at St George’s College in Harare. He studied graphic design in Johannesburg and joined the advertising world initially as a storyboard artist. He then went on to become an award-winning art director in a number of leading Johannesburg advertising agencies. He now works as a commercial film director and divides his time between film sets and his studio in Greenside.

GIBS ART ON CAMPUS The exhibition falls under the Gordon Institute of Business Science Art on Campus Programme which gives exposure to South African artists within a business context.