A seahorse for Sedgefield!

It may be called the Knysna Seahorse, but Sedgefield is where you will now find the most impressive tribute to the tiny creature that makes the town’s estuaries its home. Today local NPO Masithandane unveiled their latest mosaic masterpiece at the foot of the dune beach-lovers climb to reach the magnificent Myoli Beach.

“Sedgefield, here at last is the seahorse you’ve been asking for!” Jacky Weaver, Chairperson of Masithandane, introduced their latest addition to the Sedgefield Mosaic Route as mosaic team leader Hyla Hartlief and Ward 1 Councillor Levael Davis removed the “wrapping”.

The towering 3 meter high installation comprises a giant sparkling mosaic statue of the Knysna Seahorse mounted on one of the original fishing boats used at Gericke’s Point, donated by Christopher Fredericks. Livelihoods depended on it for more than 40 years. The historically significant Gericke’s Point provides the distinctive, distant western backdrop to Myoli Beach.

The shimmering seahorse sculpture is Masithandane’s second contribution to the #KnysnaArtProject, a collaboration between Visit Knysna (the greater Knysna area’s destination marketing organisation), the Knysna Municipality and the Knysna Art Society. It is also the last installation in the official #KnysnaArtProject, the aim of which was to encourage visitors to branch out and explore some of the lesser known gems that the area has to offer by creating interactive outdoor artworks. These installations also now provided the basis for the Knysna Art Route which maps out all the galleries, artist studios, maker spaces and more that can be explored by art enthusiasts visiting the Greater Knysna area.

In August 2021, Masithandane unveiled the Sedgefield1 Love Bug – an original Volkswagen Beetle parked on the side of the Swartvlei River covered in brightly coloured mosaic renditions of the local fynbos and other flora unique to the area. With its open top and picture-perfect backdrop Sedgefield1 has proved to be as big a hit amongst residents of this small self-proclaimed “slow town” as it has amongst the travellers and tourists it was made for.

According to Jacky the idea for the seahorse came from the community, who have been asking for one ever since the Love Bug was unveiled. It was also at the launch of the Love Bug that Jacky first met Christopher Fredericks and heard the story of the fishing boat, which he then offered to donate to Masithandane for their next project. The Fredericks’ boat, hidden in his back yard for over a decade and beginning to decay, has now been given new life as the impressive base for the giant concrete seahorse.

The resin “starfish” steps up to the boat are also significant. They incorporate a number of metal sinkers, collected along the coastline as part of the Strandloper Project. Mark Dixon, founder of the Strandloper Project, approached Jacky with the idea of including sinkers in one of their installations to draw some attention to these environmental hazards.

Masithandane’s mosaics are not new to Sedgefield. The Mosaic Project began as a skills training and income generation initiative for unemployed men in 2008 and has been uplifting the town with public mosaic works ever since, many of them private commissions funded by the townspeople. In fact, whatever you do and wherever you go in Sedgefield, one thing is for certain – you will be enchanted by the vibrant mosaic art that has become such an integral and attractive part of its visual fabric. The Mosaic Art Route now includes more than sixty five wonderous mosaic works that are quite worthy of the 90-minutes it takes to complete a self-drive tour. Aside from the Sedgefield1 Love Bug, the route takes you past a number of other iconic sculptures worthy of a selfie pic or two – among them the Slow Papa Tortoise and Heartbeat of Sedgefield heart on the Main Rd, Marinara with its view of Gericke’s Point, and the interactive Octopus Garden at the Scarab Market on the outskirts of town.

Pleasure seekers now have more reasons than ever to stop along the N2 and spend some time in areas such as Sedgefield, Buffalo Bay, Brenton-on-Sea, Knysna and Concordia. In a world where selfies and that perfect Instagram moment is now the most popular way of sharing photos and experiences worldwide, the #KnysnaArtProject is encouraging visitors to Greater Knysna to branch out, explore and discover everything the area has to offer by creating a series of unique selfie opportunities. The initiative is an ambitious and exciting collaboration between Visit Knysna (the greater Knysna area’s destination marketing organisation), the Knysna Municipality and the Knysna Art Society and thus far includes the Sedgefield1 Love Bug, a 2.2m statue of a Rasta priest on the Mount at Judah square, the Buffalo Bay Boardwalk and the Brenton on Sea Wall of Wings.

Masithandane – the makers behind the mosaic route
Headed by Jacky Weaver, Masithandane provides vital services to the poorer community in Sedgefield. The vision was to provide community care for disadvantaged communities, care for the sick or terminally ill with the HUG Care and Respite Centre (House under Grace) and support for families and mothers and children.

A non-profit organisation (NPO), Masithandane has provided food security for thousands, catered for early childhood development and literacy, taught life skills to the members of the community and offered income earning opportunities over the years. During the hard Covid lockdown they delivered 1700 weekly food parcels for several months.

Masithandane is the conduit for 19 community kitchens and feeding schemes in Sedgefield, Karatara, Rheenendal, Knysna and Hornlee. Some 1900 meals are provided 5 days a week, while more than 100 people get healthy meals every day at the Centre.

In another section of the Centre, the laughter of children leads to the classroom or outdoor playground of Ikhaya Lentliziyo. The first principal came to Masithandane many years ago to follow her passion of looking after children, was unqualified, but now has formal qualifications and 32 children under her watchful eye.

Weaver points at a map in the Wellness Centre, of the area of the communities served and explains: “These are not just dots. Every single one represents a family. There are 1700 households in Smutsville, Slangepark and Sizamile with as many as eight people per household, many being helped by Masithandane,” says Weaver.

Masithandane derives its income from donations, fund-raising proposals and events and from mosaic interactive groups and tours.

For more information visit www.facebook.com/masithandane
or phone Jacky on 082 4142133