Visit Knysna, Knysna Tourism, Garden Route, South Africa

Knysna Art Society breathes life back into historic town centre

The #knysnaartproject has been back in action, this time bringing some colour and character to Knysna’s historic CBD with a new mural inspired by local author Dalene Matthee’s novel “Kringe in ‘n Bos”.

The canvas for the latest project was the back of the old Town Hall – a 25metre-long strip of wall that, in recent years, came to be known as the “Covid wall”. It was here that people spent hours queuing for their vaccinations during the pandemic.

Now the works of sixty artists have transformed this bleak space into one of hope and happiness. Created over the ten days of the recent Knysna Oyster Festival, the “Kringe in ‘n Bos” mural is a celebration of all that makes the Greater Knysna area so unique. Artists worked individually but alongside one another on circular artworks (“Kringe”) of their chosen iconically-Knysna subjects. From extreme close-ups of the endemic fauna and flora that can be found in the ancient forests to views of the estuary and all that brings life to its waters, each of the eighty-one artworks is a passion-infused personal tribute to a place that inspires at every turn.

“Dalene Matthee’s forest books illustrate just how enchanted she was by the Knysna forests and the surrounding areas. As artists living in Knysna we too seek much of our inspiration from the natural wonder that surrounds us in this very special place. We feel privileged to live and work here and the mural shows the rest of the world why,” said Helena Gerber, Chairperson of Knysna Arts Society.

The artwork is the latest installment in the #knysnaartproject, an ambitious and exciting collaboration between Visit Knysna (the greater Knysna area’s destination marketing organisation), the Knysna Municipality and the Knysna Arts Society. Five other public outdoor artworks have already been installed across the Greater Knysna area.

As it happens, this time the majority of the contributing artists were women – in fact, only six were men. “The Kringe in ‘n Bos mural was created as a tribute to a great woman who loved Knysna by a group of Knysna’s great women. So we are reminded once again of the powerful role of women in the past, present and future of our town. Wherever I look, I see women working as individuals, in teams, in organisations to create real change and improvement in the world we live in. It’s no wonder we celebrate them with Women’s Month,” said Councilor Sharon Sabbagh, MMC for Finance and Tourism at Knysna Municipality.

Executive Mayor of Knysna Lavael Davis spoke at the official launch on Tuesday 17 August 2022. “The Knysna Art Project has brought the winds of rejuvenation to our town. It’s contagious. Our residents are out on the streets getting involved in projects and initiatives that are having real impact and building back our identity as a destination. But, more importantly, working together we are being reminded of what it feels like to be part of a community with a positive attitude and a common goal.”

Knysna’s natural beauty still shines

Knysna is known for being surrounded by natural beauty – forests, beautiful beaches, lakes, and of course, the famous Knysna lagoon.

The local tourism office, Visit Knysna, said that Knysna is fortunate to have two Blue Flag beaches and Blue Flag marinas. “We are surrounded by nature, and despite Municipal service delivery challenges, our natural assets continue to shine. There are a total of seven pristine beaches in the area, multiple rivers, and a vast forest to explore.”

Knysna had a successful summer visitor season. “December and January are our peak tourist season and feedback from the tourism sector and business shows that we had a bumper season, as usual.”

“Our events calendar is filled to the brim – we just had the wonderful Oakhill Waterfront Chukka Festivals at the Knysna Waterfront. Water polo players from a wide range of schools across South Africa visited Knysna in February. The Garden Route Festival of Books is taking place in March and in June we will once again be hosting our ever-popular Knysna Oyster Festival. Entries for the anchor events, the Knysna Forest Marathon and the Knysna Cycle Tour are open and filling up fast. With 10 days of sport and fun, it is one of the highlights on our event calendar. Other events include the Simola Hill Climb in May, the Rastafarian Festival in July, and the Karoo to Coast event in September.”

Knysna is one of the most popular tourist destinations on the Garden Route and Visit Knysna said they are determined to keep that status. “We are working with the relevant Departments at the Knysna Municipality to find a solution for the service delivery challenges we are experiencing. The water quality at recreational areas in the estuary is monitored and an independent laboratory tests the water every month to ensure readings fall within the prescribed requirements. The last results received at the end of January were all within the prescribed levels.”

“We are looking forward to welcoming you in Knysna.”