Visit Knysna, Knysna Tourism, Garden Route, South Africa

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.


#knysnaartproject
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

Brenton-on-Sea’s butterfly inspires Knysna’s metamorphosis

Visitors to Brenton-on-Sea, Knysna, won’t be able to miss the creative transformation that’s taking place in this small seaside hamlet – all at the hands of a small group of committed community members and the #knysnaartproject.

Part of the Western Head & Goukamma Conservancy, and perched on the dunes overlooking a 5.5km-long stretch of pristine white beach towards Buffalo Bay, Brenton-on-Sea plays host to some of the most extravagant sunsets in the world. It is also home to the tiny Brenton Blue Butterfly, one of the rarest butterflies on earth and a National Treasure.

The newly unveiled Wall of Wings now reaffirms this rare resident’s place at the heart of this community and also is one of the “Knysna 5” truly unique, natural attractions, alongside the Knysna Loerie, Knysna Seahorse, Knysna Dwarf Chameleon and the Knysna Leaf-folding Frog. Mounted onto mottled blue tiles that mirror the fluid ocean backdrop and memorialise the distinctive hue of the male Brenton Blue, a giant stainless steel butterfly has its wings spread wide in welcome to visitors.

The Wall of Wings is a collaboration between local artist Helena Gerber, Debbie Young and Dave McRae of Knysna-based LaserWorx and Neels Groesbeek of Knysna Steelworx. Helena, who acted as Creative Director on the Wall of Wings, explained the inspiration behind the installation: “We knew from the start that we wanted a giant butterfly for Brenton-on-Sea. As artists – painters, sculptors, poets, writers – we often draw our inspiration from nature. Butterflies are symbols of beauty, freedom, transformation, mystery and appear in art everywhere – our spirits as human beings are instantly uplifted in their presence. The world would be a much poorer place without them.”

Debbie and Dave, whose laser cutting business was built on the back of developing iconic Knysna gifts and merchandising for the tourist trade, developed the design for the butterfly installation. A contemporary, stylised interpretation of the Brenton Blue, the design will now become the basis for a whole new LaserWorx range. Neels, who volunteered the support of his steelwork services to the #knysnaartproject in response to the initial call for proposals, provided the experience and expertise needed to engineer the creative idea into a 2m-tall steel sculpture that will endure against the elements for years to come. Local independent contractors Desmond Makellie (DesMark Construction) and Phillip Pieterse built and tiled the Wall, in itself a work of art. Together they have been working on projects in Brenton for more than 15 years.

The Brenton Blue Butterfly is close to the hearts of residents. More so since the Brenton Blue Butterfly Reserve was obliterated in the 2017 fires. This small area was the only home of the Brenton Blue and for a long time after the fires there were fears that the species had become extinct. The discovery of dormant larvae deep in the soil however led to an ongoing project to rehabilitate the reserve and re-establish the Brenton Blue Butterfly in its natural habitat initiated by the Brenton Blue Trust. Funding is always a barrier to progress and it is hoped that the Wall of Wings will ignite interest in the conservation of the Brenton Blue and inspire support and donations for the Trust and ongoing efforts to prevent the butterfly’s extinction.

The creation of the Wall of Wings at Brenton-on-Sea, as with the other #knysnaartproject installations underway, inspired broader collaboration with community members to transform the public spaces around the beachfront and the rest of Brenton-on-Sea with colourful mosaics. According to Judy Harrison, Chairperson of the Brenton-on-Sea Ratepayers Association and coordinator of the community mosaic project, the #knysnaartproject butterfly added some momentum to an initiative already underway to brighten up Brenton with new benches, tables and bins sponsored and mosaiced by residents. “When the organisers of the #knysnaartproject came to us with their plans for the Wall of Wings we set our hearts and souls on transforming the walls of the set of stairs at the top of the descent to the beach into a canvas of colour”. A core team of 12 mosaicers, with the adhoc support of other residents, visiting children, and staff of the adjacent Brenton Haven Hotel, spent a combined total of 175 hours on the stunning mosaic murals that now line the steps to the beach.

Colleen Durant, GM of Visit Knysna (the greater Knysna area’s Destination Marketing Organisation), was visibly excited by the first of the #knysnaartproject installations to be officially unveiled. “A single line item on Greater Knysna’s Destination Management Plan has sparked a regeneration project of a size and scale beyond our expectations and imaginings. Communities have been inspired to action – they want to be part of the solution when it comes to reclaiming Knysna’s reputation as a hub of art and creativity.”

#knysnaartproject
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 photo 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.

The Brenton-on-Sea beachfront is one of six iconic sites in greater Knysna area 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, and a full-size, fully mosaiced vintage VW beetle will soon be unveiled alongside the estuary in Sedgefield. A giant nautilus sculpted from stainless steel and indigenous wood will grace the SANParks waterfront on Thesen Island, 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 Knysna in Bloom flowerpots being turned into creative canvases for contributing artists.

One-of-a-kind sculpture to welcome visitors to Knysna’s Judah Square

Following months of hard work, planning and preparations, a towering 2.2m likeness of Hailie Selassie now stands proud on the mount at Judah Square, Knysna – home to the biggest community of Rastafari in Southern Africa. Looking out over the township of Khayalethu, powerful hands posed in a diamond-like gesture, the traditional Rastafari symbol of the Seal of Solomon, the statue will welcome back visitors from far and wide.