Johannesburg’s historic Natal Bank building, now headquarters of media and brand intelligence company, Ornico

ART: Art captivates the attendees at the launch of Ornico City.

Attended by numerous guests, Ornico’s move from Sandton to inner city Johannesburg is being celebrated by throwing its doors of the heritage site open to the public.

The media and brand intelligence company hosted a public art exhibition at their new site, 90 Albertina Sisulu Street, which will now be called Ornico City, featuring Jozi’s top artists, including internationally acclaimed artist Mbongeni Buthelezi, together with Tshidzo Mangena, Solomon Omolayo Omogboye, Azael Langa, Ndabuko Julukani Ntuli, Johnnyguava, Michael Tshepo Selekane, Dario Manjate Art, Nkhensani Rihlampfu, and Cebo Simphiwe Xulu.

This exhibition also featured an auction, which aimed to raise funds to support Malvern Primary School in Johannesburg and the artists.

“Urban spaces are our future and Johannesburg’s inner city is very much the heart and soul of what it means to be South African. One loses a sense of that pulse out in Sandton,” said Oresti Patricios, CEO of Ornico, who acquired the premises.

FACES: Portraits and various art pieces are displayed in an auction to raise funds.

“There’s an energy, an enthusiasm and an opportunity for massive innovation in the city that’s contagious.”

The building has a colourful history. Formerly the Natal Bank building, it was constructed immediately after the Anglo-Boer War and was occupied in 1903.

Just one block from the Johannesburg Stock Exchange and the National Bank of the South African Republic, the Natal Bank overlooked the old Market Square, on what was then Market Street.

In 1914, Natal Bank was taken over by National Bank which, in 1926, was taken over by Barclays Bank. In 1961 it was used by a theatrical group, the Bank Players, as a storage and rehearsal centre and in 1963 it housed the South African Government’s Republican Intelligence, the forerunner to the infamous Boss (SA Bureau of State Security).

In 1978, Barclays converted it into the Barclays Bank Museum, which then became the FNB Museum. The building was provisionally declared a national monument in 1990 and it is the oldest surviving bank building in Johannesburg.

Read: Executive Mayor of Joburg, Herman Mashaba, aims to restore law and order in the inner city

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Racine Edwardes

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