Words: Georgina Guedes | Images: Supplied & Ter Hollmann

Stephen Hobbs is an artist and co-founder of the artists collective The Trinity Session. He lives in Franklin Roosevelt Park with his wife and two children, but engages with Joburg wherever there’s a street culture and sense of community.

Home sweet home

Stephen and his wife Bronwyn Millar lived in a small house in Westdene, but when their second child came along, they found they had outgrown it. “It’s a very predictable story of middle-class growth in an urban setting. We needed a bigger house for the kids. It was just very practical,” he says.

So in 2012, they found their home in Franklin Roosevelt Park, the finding of which had very little to do with Stephen. “I was overseas at the time, and I think the preference of location was based on the fact that it was five minutes away from Linden, where Bronwyn and her mother had a carpet shop.”

The house has four bedrooms and a large garden. “It was lived in for its entirety by the original owners and we bought it from the widow. What appealed to us was the front garden and back garden with lots of space – for our interests in vegetable gardening and those sorts of things.”

He says that their own garden echoes the green abundance in the surrounding suburbs. “It’s an extension of the kind of generosity of space in that you have the dams and waterways of Emmarentia. It’s an extremely green and very natural part of Joburg, heavily treed, which make it a very special environment.”

Stephen says that his house is conducive to entertaining because they’ve knocked down the central walls, and the kitchen flows into the back garden. “You can go right through to this beautiful plateau of entertainment.”

As an artist, he has a particular interest in the visual sense of the spaces in which he lives and through which he moves. “One of my greatest pleasures of coming home, particularly in autumn, is crossing over Emmarentia Dam and seeing all the autumn colours reflected. There’s also something very particular about the light in this area. Our house is north-east facing, so we get the full spectrum of sunlight in the daytime. And the sunsets are amazing. We have privileged, middle-class suburban reality, all the way around.”

Gems in the neighbourhood

Stephen says that when he is out with his family on the weekend, they constantly search for green, outdoor spaces, so they’ll often go to Delta Park and visit the Delta Park Cafe, or for something a little more suburban, they’ll visit Bambanani in Melville.

“My routine is very predictable in the morning. I drop the kids at school in Emmarentia, then nip up to Melville and sit in the Bread and Roses Cafe or De La Crème for anything from one hour to five hours. Then, depending on where I need to be for various public art projects for the JDA and the City of Joburg, I can go from Noordgesig in Soweto in the morning, to Turffontein in the mid-morning, and then Orange Grove’s Paterson Park in the early afternoon, and back to the office in Maboneng by about five, before heading home in rush-hour traffic.”

Because his office is mobile, he either works on a laptop in his car or sits in any number of coffee shops close to the site where he’s working. Close to home, he picks up gluten-free bread from the Impala Bakery in Northcliff, as well as popping into the fruit shop, bottle store or butcher in the complex, while he’s at it. “It’s seriously well designed. I avoid malls like the plague and am drawn to anywhere that has a street cafe society.”

Linden is another of his neighbouring suburb haunts, and he’ll often be found at the Whippet, or checking out the latest exhibition at the No End Contemporary Art Space, or visiting Record Mad where the owner also happens to be his neighbour.

Perfect Sunday

On his perfect Sunday, Stephen says he would pick up a coffee and croissant at Doppio Zero (although he’s now trying to avoid gluten), then head to his studio in Maboneng for a few hours. “I’d preferably have Ruby (his daughter) in tow, so I can work and she can make her own art in the studio.”

Then he’d head home for lunch and a braai, and head back to the park to spend the rest of the afternoon playing with his kids. “The studio time is not guaranteed, but if we’re talking about my ideal Sunday, that would be it.”

“What I like about living in Franklin Roosevelt Park is the peace. My entire life is spent working with so many artists and people and being so heavily social and interactive, that it’s nice to come home to retreat and to have space from everyone.”

 

Stephen Hobbs

Hospitals:

Milpark Hospital
Northcliff Orthopaedic Centre
Wilgeheuwel Hospital
Netcare Rosebank Hospital
The Headache Clinic

Eat:

Everyone’s talking about Van der Linde in Linden – get in on the action
Slurp some noodles at Pron (People’s Republic of Noodles), also in Linden.
Feast on delicious burgers at Duke’s in Greenside.
Go for Asian fusion at the original of the Momo chain, Momo Bauhaus.
Grab a coffee and fresh breakfast at Olivia’s CoffeBake at Impala Fruiterers.

Do:

Find out when the Melville Koppie is open and spend a day immersed in Joburg’s stone-age history.
Have a picnic at the Emmarentia Gardens and take a walk with the dogs around the dam.
Play a round of golf with your kids at the mashie golf course at Emmarentia.
Swim all year round in the heated swimming pool in Linden.
Have a retro night out with ten-pin bowling at the Northcliff Centre.