Knysna is one of the most beautiful towns in South Africa and has historically been positioned as a home of world-class art in the Western Cape.
Now, the Knysna Interactive Art Project will deploy art installations at iconic spots in the greater Knysna area – to create adventure, passion and those perfect Instagram moments.
There are now in 2021 more than one billion Instagram users with two billion expected by 2023. And with 80 million photos being uploaded onto Instagram every single day, visitors to Knysna will be spoilt for choice when it comes to finding that picture-perfect setting to share on social media platforms.
The Knysna Interactive Art Project, has been in the pipeline for a year. It’s a combined initiative between Visit Knysna (Destination Marketing), Knysna Municipality (Destination Management and Economic Development) and The Knysna Art Society, aimed at creating interactive art and public spaces in key locations. This will encourage locals, visitors and foreign tourists to explore more of the greater Knysna area, go off the beaten-track, see, post and share with the rest of the world.
The goal being to provide a ‘Veni. Vidi. Amavi. We came, we saw, we loved’ experience right here on the Garden Route.
The project started in 2020 when Visit Knysna invited artists, crafters and creatives in the area to come up with ideas for an interactive art route that would capture the hearts of visitors, but also showcase the region’s natural assets.
Knysna Executive Mayor Ricky van Aswegen called this project one of the most exciting the town has embarked on in recent years. “Now more than ever, we need to build our tourism offerings. The interactive installations at view sites and cultural centres will encourage visitors to branch out and explore the entire greater Knysna area – and experience the unique and diverse nature of what we have to offer,” said Van Aswegen.
GM of Visit Knysna Colleen Durant explained this will showcase the very best of Knysna’s iconic locations by involving arts and the community. “Combining our most beautiful and photographed spots with art installations from our talented community of artists, will ensure we reverberate around the world,” she said.
The Knysna Art Society is working hard behind the scenes to make it all happen. Chairman Helena Gerber believes that this is just the sort of initiative that is needed to put the area back on the map as an art and culture destination. “In addition, the introduction of an art route linking installations, galleries, studios, artists and crafters with visitors will help to reinvigorate our local economy,” she said.
Wesgro CEO, Tim Harris said: “It is very exciting to see this creative project coming to life. I believe that interactive art illustrates a sense of creativity and cultural vibrancy, and promotes tourism. I hope residents and tourists alike will come and explore the greater Knysna area, engage with the art and all that the destination has to offer.”
Six iconic view sites were identified in 2020 to host an art installation – creating the perfect backdrop for that selfie.
- Judah Square in Khayalethu, home to the biggest community of Rastafarian people in South Africa, will get a 2.5 metre statue of a Rastafari priest mounted at the entrance to greet visitors. Ceramicist Eugene Lewis under the mentorship of artist Suzanne du Toit is already hard at work creating one of his Tribal Africa signature masterpieces.
- Thesen Islandwill set the scene for a giant nautilus sculpture of stainless steel and indigenous wood in front of the SANParks offices . The installation will be the end point of an extended SANParks experience which will now include an educational indigenous garden and, of course, a viewing of the famous Knysna seahorse.
- Belvidere and Brenton on Sea – two of greater Knysna’s most scenic spots, will benefit from stainless steel impressions of Knysna fynbos and butterflies.
- Buffalo Bay, a prime swimming and surfing spot, is to be enhanced with the “Buffalo Bay Boardwalk,” a series of surfboards painted by local artists. Already a popular water sport destination, the interactive art will help to turn this beach into a surfing icon.
- In Sedgefield, the existing character of this quaint town will be enhanced by a new mosaic sculpture by local NPO Masithandane. The colourful full-size VW Beetle will be parked on the edge of the Sedgefield estuary mouth, the latest addition to the Sedgefield Mosaic Route.
- In Knysna, the central business district will be brightened and cheered when the Knysna in Bloom flower pots in the Main Road and surrounds become creative canvases.
Now that the creative process is underway, Visit Knysna and the Knysna Art Society will work on the next phase of the project which will include interactive art installations on Leisure Island, Millionaire’s View Point in White Location and Diepwalle. Local artist Shelley du Plessis has also proposed transforming the dead tree’s in the town into colourful painted works of art.
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Read more about The Knysna Art Society which is breathing life into these projects: www.knysnaarts.com
Artist Eugene Lewis and his sculpture