The serenity of this tree-lined neighbourhood in Pretoria’s Moot area together with the space on offer make it attractive to buyers.
Banele Khoza made his mark in the Jacaranda City when one of his designs was chosen to be included in the A Re Yeng Tshwane Rapid Transit (TRT) bus station artwork collection in 2015.
Banele’s The Steel Tree today towers above the General GL Pitso TRT station in Sunnyside where he lived before moving to the suburb of Queenswood almost a year ago.
“I found a north-facing apartment in Queenswood and it felt like I was leaving winter in Sunnyside and moving to summer,” says Banele, who grew up in a small town called Hlatikulu in Swaziland. “It’s actually the size of Queenswood.”
As a successful artist and a lecturer at Tshwane University of Technology Arts Campus, Banele has a busy life. “I’m constantly on the move, but I slow down once I’m in Queenswood. The neighbourhood is calm throughout the day. Here the weekdays are the same as the weekends. It’s tranquil and the peace is such a luxury to a busy mind."
The serenity of this established tree-lined neighbourhood in Pretoria’s Moot area helps Banele stay focused. He spends most of his time working on his art at home “and rearranging my collection of 45 plants”. Kilnerpark Nursery is one of Banele's favourite places to visit. “It’s a nursery with the most beautiful and exotic plants. In the past, I’ve left there with more than a dozen. The space is a great escape from the world.” Banele also visits Queenswood Florist every week. “Just to check up on what’s new so I can update my bedside.”
A Jacaranda tree from his childhood years inspired the piece he designed for the A Re Yeng initiative. The tree’s sense of individuality and the way it sprouted without any human intervention fascinated him. However, the tree's beauty was spoiled when someone cut off¬ a few of its branches. With The Steel Tree Banele endeavoured to give the tree of his childhood its beauty and integrity back.
Banele is a strong contender in prominent art competitions such as the Barclays L’Atelier Art Competition, Thami Mnyele Fine Art Awards and Sasol New Signatures. He was awarded the SA Taxi Foundation Art Award this year. "It includes 10 taxis that will carry my work through the South African roads, and a cash prize."
People from all walks of life form an integral part of his life in Queenwood. “The people I’ve got to know in Queenswood are so kind and I have made genuine friendships with them. They’re also respectful of each other as there's minimal crime and it feels like a safe environment that one could settle in,” says Banele.
The best thing that Queenswood has to offer is space, at an affordable price.
Banele’s favourite things to do:
- Spending Saturday evenings indoors: “I feel spoiled by life as it is completely silent.”
- Visiting Smooch Cafe: “They sell the most mouth-watering cake and it’s always fresh.”
- Exploring the neighbourhood on foot: “There is almost no commotion during the day and I often feel as if I am the only person living around.”
- Located very close to both the N1 and N4 highways
- Bordered by the main streets of Codonia Avenue, Michael Brink Street and CR Swart Drive linking Queenswood up to neighbouring suburbs, highways and the city centre
- Close to the Hatfield Gautrain station
- On the municipal bus route
- Kruger House Museum, Pretoria Cenral
- Hatfield Market, Hatfield
- Pretoria National Botanical Gardens, Brummeria
- Pretoria National Zoological Gardens, Daspoort
This article originally appeared in Neighbourhood, Sunday Times.