The Heart of the Garden Route.
From the N2, Sedgefield’s initial impression is of a small roadside town which imparts the impression of a single traffic light, an avenue of plain trees and a fence of horses. A town, as I have often been told by guests, which masks the beauty beyond the main road. A hint of the active lifestyle that the town offers can be witnessed if you should drive through when a light south east wind is blowing. Under these conditions a soaring kettle of paragliders flying along the Cloud Nine ridge north of the road will capture your attention and may inspire you to pause, and possibly explore the hidden secrets of Sedgefield.
Nestled between the N2 and the Indian Ocean, Sedgefield morphs into a sprawling coastal village flanking Kingfisher Creek, a meandering estuary which snakes its way through salt marches to Swartvlei. To those that interrupt their transit on the N2 and turn south at the traffic light soon discover that, positioned between George and Knysna, Sedgefield is indeed the gateway to the outdoor riches of the Garden Route.
The original Slow Town of South Africa.
Yet embed into the fabric of this village is a culture of appreciation for a lifestyle which follows the tides and sunsets, a mindful pace of life which has evolved into a cohesive community that calls Sedgefield their home.
It is this sense of cohesion which inspired the origins of Masithandane, an organization which strives to provide a holistic and integrated home and community healthcare programme for entire families living in inequitable patterns of wealth which are compounded by the impact of HIV/AIDS & TB. In addition to health and social support, Masithandane offers training and education to pave the way to economic opportunities and the development of self worth.
Within the diverse bouquet of training projects is the mosaic program. Using the creative medium of mosaic artworks and sculptures, projects range from village attractions, public space features, commemorative plaques and commissioned works. With over 33 mosaic features throughout Sedgefield, the village has grown into the Mosaic Town of South Africa.
Navigating the Mosaic Creations.
Entering the village on Kingfisher Drive from the N2, you reach the first exhibit at the Traffic Circle. Combined, there is a Goodwill Globe on the left and foraging on the circle center is a flock of mosaic Guinea Fowl.
The finish of each item reflects the training level of the artist. Broad, bold patterns adorn a bench overlooking Kingfisher Creek, a wonderful location to take a breather and contemplate life while watching the sun setting over the Outeniqua Mountains with the golden tonal ranges shimmering on the estuary.
In the town center, the M.O.T.H. memorial, adorns a section of the town hall, and along with its accompanying viewing bench, is noticeable for it’s fine detail.
The emblem for Sedgefield is a tortoise, a badge of honor which has evolved from a combination of the prolific population of Angulate Tortoises that inhabit the village, and the relaxed pace of life that is enjoyed by the residents. This emblem has inspired a mold as a template for a series of tortoises dotted around the village and Island which have become popular photo props for young families wanting a holiday memory.
Without a doubt the most ambitious project in terms of scale has been the Octopus Garden. A massive mosaic Octopus created for children entertainment and education which has evolved into a popular outdoor venue for concerts.
Creating culture of self worth.
The creativity of the artists is also expressed in the integrated use of material from sea shells to metal components. Broken crockery and wave smoothed pebbles distinguish some pieces while accurate floral and faunal detail differentiate others.
In the true spirit of aspiring artists wishing to share the upliftment and nurturing of self esteem they have received from their time with Masithandane, they have embedded uplifting words in the iconic projects, setting an unspoken challenge to the public to spend time to find them all while admiring their creation. I have on countless occasions tried to reach a consistent tally of all embedded words and symbols in Mariana, the mosaic fish overlooking the estuary mouth. Each time the number varies, an anomaly I attribute to the different light and how it transforms the composition of the patterns.
In the spirit of community that binds Sedgefield, the dedicated staff at Masithandane are supported both financially and by volunteers sharing their time in all the programs that covers all ages of individuals and family requiring support. When an ambitious mosaic project is proposed or commissioned, volunteers step up and provide valuable technique advice and composition, a flair appreciated by the artists.
Undoubtedly Masithandane plays a major role in the upliftment of families affected by HIV/Aids and TB, yet it is at the unveiling of one their mammoth mosaic exhibits that the true impact that Masithandane has on their beneficiaries can be witnessed. It is with pride and self esteem that the artists stand beside their creation, as sense of accomplishment that will alter their future and those around them.
Next time you are traveling through the Garden Route, drop into Sedgefield and discover how the mosaic of nature and relaxed life create a pattern of life that composes a culture of community that cares.
Get a taste for what Sedgefield has to offer in this video : Sedgefield – the Gateway to Adventure.