With the #KnysnaArtProject well underway, the winds of rejuvenation are sweeping through greater Knysna, including Sedgefield. The interactive art project is coming to life just as South Africans are exploring more of their own country due to Covid-19’s impact on international travel.
Pleasure seekers will 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.
A world-class outdoor mosaic capital
The small town of Sedgefield, a self-proclaimed “slow town” is a fusion of nature and a laidback lifestyle. The picturesque combination of five unspoiled beaches, towering dunes, meandering rivers and lakes makes the town a haven for water sports, hiking, and birdwatching. It is also a favourite spot for paragliding.
Whatever you do and wherever you go in Sedgefield, one thing is for certain – you will be enchanted by the vibrant mosaic work that has become such an integral and attractive part of the visual fabric of this town. What started as a project by artist and architect Squire Vickers at the beginning of the 1900s has grown to include more than sixty wonderous mosaic works.
Today Masithandane, a local NPO, is the creative force behind the ongoing mosaic project and the unveiling of their latest work will reveal their most impressive feat to date – the complete mosaic-ing of a full-size classic VW Beetle. Parked proudly alongside the estuary, this piece will be a drawcard to Sedgefield in its own right – with its open top, visitors will be able to climb into the Love Bug for an impressive Instagram pic.
Masithandane has been gifting the town with mosaics since 2008. What began as a skills training and income generation initiative for unemployed men spearheaded by local artists Linda Southey and Petricia Pieterse has multiplied into a collection of mosaics worthy of the 90-minutes it takes to complete the self-drive mosaic tour. Start at the Slow Papa Tortoise on the Main Street before moving on to the Tree of Life in front of the library, The Family at the entrance to the municipal offices, the MOTH Memorial, and the Ball of Hope. Then venture off down Kingfisher Drive where a series of mosaiced benches line the estuary before arriving at the car park where the Love Bug will be parked. Further along the route you’ll come upon the famous Marinara sculpture. The tour ends at the wonderful Octopus Garden at the Scarab Village, often the backdrop for staged events. Throughout the town home owners have shown their support for the project with their mosaiced house numbers and names.
The team at Masithandane is creating their new masterpiece under the direction of Hyla Hartlief who has been mentoring and teaching the craft of mosaic at Masithandane since 2018. A graphic designer by trade, Hyla moved to Sedgefield twenty years ago and fell in love with the craft of mosaic. She’s been on a roll ever since. “I fell in love with it. I mosaic everything [her own home features mosaiced planters and murals including a fully mosaiced garden wall],” says Hartlief who describes the process as addictive, requiring lots of patience, but still very relaxing. The new seahorse-mosaiced Knysna in Bloom pots outside Visit Knysna on Knysna’s Main Road are a testament to the talent and passion of Hartlief.
Ricardo Baadjies who has been working at Masithandane for eight years says he is hooked on mosaic for life. Sophia Nguma has been part of the Masithandane mosaic team from the beginning and explains that the art of mosaic is now a part of her. Petrus Kiewiets is a born artist and passionate about his mosaic work which he does full time. His pride in their #KnysnaArtProject piece is clear: “I would never have believed when I started here four years ago that I would ever be working on a project like this. It’s my life now!”
The day of the big reveal is drawing closer. Originally planned for the Knysna Oyster Festival, the team at Masithandane intended to launch the Love Bug with a full day of Beatlemania themed “Beetle around Sedgefield all day long and end the day in song”. When it happens, the celebrations will include a display of classic VW Beetles, an Amazing Race along the mosaic route and a Love Bug selfie competition. The day will culminate in ‘Beatlemania’, a festive fundraiser for Masithandane. Postponed due to Covid restrictions Masithandane will announce a new date for the launch as soon as those related to gatherings are lifted.
The Sedgefield estuary is one of six iconic sites in Greater Knysna identified for public art placements in phase one of the project. A 2.2m statue of a Rastafari priest is about to take centre stage at Judah Square in Concordia. A giant nautilus sculpted from stainless steel and indigenous wood will grace the SANParks waterfront on Thesen Island, a contemporary steel impression of the Brenton Blue butterfly will be mounted at the viewpoint at Brenton on Sea, and in Buffalo Bay a “boardwalk” of surfboards painted by local artists is building the town’s reputation as a prime surfing destination. Knysna’s central business district will be cheered with the 70+ Knysna in Bloom flowerpots being turned into creative canvases for contributing artists.
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 based opportunities over the years. During the hard Covid lockdown they delivered 1700 weekly food parcels for several months.
Masithandane is the conduit for 25 community kitchens and feeding schemes in Sedgefield, Karatara, Rheenendal, Knysna, Hornlee and Plettenberg Bay. Some 2500 meals are provided each week, while 160 people get healthy meals every day.
In another section of the Centre, the laughter of children leads to the classroom or outdoor playground of principal of Ikhaya Lentliziyo. She came to Masithandane many years ago to follow her passion of looking after children, was unqualified, but now has formal qualifications and 38 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 https://www.facebook.com/masithandane.org
or phone Tertia on 082 0460463