Maintaining his composure despite 12 pairs of eyes staring at him in polite silence, Sedgefield Mosaic Tour Leader Philip stands in front of an artwork installed on a public street corner, delivering carefully prepared talking points as part of the very first Mosaic Tour in all of South Africa.
Gingerly, he delivers each sentence of his presentation, but sometimes skips over the words in an upwelling of nervous pride. Stopping himself, he regards the A4 sheet of notes gripped in his hands – and then suddenly relaxes. He looks back determinedly at the group, smiles and says, “Don’t hurry me,” pausing for effect, “I’m a local.” In an instant, all formality has melted into a fit of laughter. The tone – and pace – for our 90-minute meander through Sedgefield has been established and, in keeping with Sedge values, it’s going to be S-L-O-W.
Newly appointed, our guide Philip is actually a trained artisan – a craftsman who knows the artworks we are about to experience on an intimate level. Each curve of the tiles, each crack of the grout – these are the details that his fingers have pushed into being over the six years since the project began. Philip speaks of the Mosaic Route, the artworks, and of his role in their creation with passion. He says this work is a gift to future generations, a legacy that must be protected. “Our children, and their children, and their children’s children – this,” he points, “This is for them.”
Made from repurposed waste – damaged tiles, ceramic, crockery – and pebbles gathered from local beaches, the artworks make a dazzling display of Sedgefield’s values: that by caring for one another through jobs creation and for the environment, we can simultaneously celebrate today while creating a better tomorrow. Because the 40 permanent mosaic artworks that adorn Sedgefield (so far) are positioned next to the library, the post office and the community hall, within the residential areas and overlooking the beach, members of the mosaic tour enjoy a “local’s view” of Sedgefield – of undeveloped vlei, sparking water and shimmering mountains in all their green glory – far from the rush of the N2.
Nearly all of the artworks to date have been produced by private commission. In a sense, the Mosaic Project is transforming Sedgefield into an outdoors museum, punctuated with evocatively named artworks. “The Family” is complete with mom, dad, child and wiggly-tailed dog, while the “Tree of Life” bursts with dragonflies and butterflies, flowers and lady bugs, and words like ‘hope’ and ‘pride.’ Shimmering towers of tortoises named “Citta” and “Slow” remind us of Sedgefield’s status as a Citta Slow Town and the aptly named, “Ball of Hope,” – filled with the shape of hand-holding locals formed by smashed dinner plates in its design – depicts the community’s undeniable camaraderie.
Masithandane, which means “Let us love one another,” is the non-profit organisation behind the Mosaic Project. Originally created to help previously disadvantaged communities, the organisation is headed by Jacky Weaver and has run a number of projects aimed at income generation. Jacky says she is grateful for the help and support the Foundation has received. “Without the support of volunteers, private donors, the Knysna Municipality and Knysna Tourism, we would not be where we are today.”
Knysna Tourism is the City of Knysna’s official regional tourism organisation, responsible for destination marketing, visitor and industry services for Knysna, Sedgefield and surrounds. For information, contact our Visitor Information Centre on 044 382 5510.