FynArts Festival 2023  #FynArts2023  

When: June 9-18, 2023 – 10 days  

Where: Hermanus, Western Cape – about 90 minutes by car from Cape Town CBD  

Programme: Features an Arts Festival (performances, concerts) and Winter School (workshops, presentations, conversations, demonstrations). There are performances, talks and presentations, interviews, book readings, exhibitions, gallery walkabouts, food and wine events, workshops (amazing for hobby-ists or ‘Obby’), films and demonstrations. Click to view the programme: https://hermanusfynarts.co.za/hermanus/  

Festival programmes: Pick up a physical copy of the festival at many outlets across the Cape: https://hermanusfynarts.co.za/?s=Collect  

Tickets: Book online via Webtickets. Go to the website and click on the event you want to attend  
Booking link: https://www.webtickets.co.za/v2/EventCategories.aspx?itemid=1526772278    

It was thrilling to be at the opening weekend of the 2023 FynArts Festival in Hermanus. The fusion festival of arts and winter school opened on Friday June 9 and runs until June 18. There is food and wine, book events, talks, discussions, workshops. The town of Hermanus is an arts town with a wonderful gallery precinct. As always during the FynArts Festival, the galleries are hosting exhibitions, walkabout, talks and interventions.  Entrance to the exhibitions are free and so are the walkabouts but tickets apply for some art events.

Being at FynArts 2023 was uplifting, stimulating and energizing. Fabulous. Fabulous. Fabulous. There is still lots on for the week and next weekend- the South African Youth Day Weekend (June 16-18). Hermanus is a beautiful coastal town, with mountains and sea and FynArts is very much a destination festival. All festivals bring a terrific sense of communing and being stimulated by events. What makes FynArts so special is the beauty of the landscape, the hospitality of the town and its eagerness to welcome visitors. The roads are great. Access is easy with ample parking. There is plenty of accommodation – from back packers to top tier accommodation. The food is a wow – with an array of restaurants, coffee shops and eateries and there is wine from the region. FynArts 2023 features curated wine and food events which are spectacular.

I attended the opening of Walking Back to Happiness– the 2023 edition of Sculpture on the Cliffs – at Gearings Point. This annual  outdoor public art exhibition stays up for a year. If you cannot get to FynArts Festival, do get to Sculpture on The Cliffs. Ten artists are exhibiting. It is a flagship event of FynArts.

I attended the fabulous opening FynArts concert, conducted by Richard Cock. He also presented the fabulous Mzansi Tenors. As a promo for the concert, the tenors did a flash mob at Oskars Delicatessen (I had an excellent salmon bagel). The flash mob was a lot of fun. The Mzansi Tenors concert sold out – as did most of the events on the live performance programme. Venues were packed.

I loved being at the Windsor Hotel for the Sculpture on the Cliffs panel, led by Melvyn Minnaar, the curator of the sculpture exhibition. He chatted to some of the artists about their work and the role of public sculpture. Check out the beautiful ceramics exhibition in the Windsor. The hotel has a FynArts Special on – until August 31, 2023.  I had a peak at the rooms – they are stunning.

It was a privilege to be at the award ceremony to Pieter-Dirk Uys as FynArts Legacy Award 2023, in the Hermanus Municipal Auditorium (terrific space by the way). PDU received his award from writer Christopher Hope (lives in France and he coined the name FynArts). It was a poignant and illuminating conversation and once again, respect and admiration to PDU who at 77 is on the boards, voicing so much which needs to be spoken about in South Africa and he continues with his signature creative prompt – to get us to laugh at our fears. In addition to his talk, when he received his Legacy Award, he performed his show, Sell-By-Date which I saw recently in Cape Town at Theatre on the Bay. Sell-By-Date was sold out at FynArts.

On the Sunday of the opening weekend,  in the drizzle (after the glorious weather on the Saturday of the opening weekend), I went to the Cave Theatre at the Old Harbour to watch Ibali Lethu (Our Story- the story of Hermanus), presented by the Story Team- a theatre collective- co-owned by Celeste Slabber-Loriston and Marhette van Huyssteen. Catch the performance of Ibali Lethu, next Sunday- June 17 at 10am in the Cave Theatre. This black box theatre used to be a storage unit and has been repurposed as a theatre. Stunning space. I loved this piece of physical theatre- script filled with warmth, humour and soul – evoking the soul of beautiful Hermanus: “A place of beauty where sea and sky meet”. The piece tracks key events in Hermanus; people and that which shaped it as a town and a vibrant community. Visionary in all respects and for sitting in the 40-seater Cave Theatre, Ibali Lethu is emblematic of the spirit of FynArts and the vision of its director Mary Faure, to bring about a communing through the fine arts (visual), performance books, ideas and perhaps most importantly – stories that we tell and can share with each other.  This engagement inspires us to listen to each other and reflect on art, ideas, history, identity and  a lot more – in the beautiful town of Hermanus.

Talking of inspirational, Dr Imtiaz Sooliman of The Gift of the Givers Foundation was the FynArts opening speaker. The Gift of the Givers Foundation is the largest disaster response non-governmental organisation of African origin on the continent. “Focus on the good”, Dr Sooliman urged us. “Let the good rise to the top and bad to the bottom.” Amen to that. An incredible organization- founded by this extraordinary human – doing good and assisting those caught up in disasters. There was a packed house attending his address.

There is heaps on this week –June 12-18 – art exhibitions galore, walk abouts, talks. There is a cohort of interns from Stellenbosch University who are in the galleries- helping, chatting and assisting at interventions and pop-ups. The creativity is palpable. There are wonderful curated food and wine events at the Marine Hotel.

Books are in the limelight until the end of the festival and include Man Booker nominated writer, Tan Twan Eng talking about his new book, The House of Doors. Christopher Hope is talking and one of the most anticipated talks is on the poems of the late Stephen Watson.

There are workshops/hobbies and presentations – a lot to ignite creative and intellectual juices. Bravo to festival director, Mary Faure, Chantel Louskitt and team for this awesome FynArts – the 11th edition of the festival.

Opening of Walking Back to Happiness: Seen at the opening of Sculpture on the Cliffs, June 10, 2023: Conrad Hicks (blacksmith – exhibiting at the exhibition), Mary Faure (FynArts Festival Director) and Bina Genovese (co-owner of Strauss & Co – a major patron of FynArts).
© TheCapeRobyn/Robyn Cohen, June, 2023.
Festive: Opening of the opening of Sculpture on the Cliffs: Walking Back to Happiness, June 10, 2023. © TheCapeRobyn/Robyn Cohen, June 10, 2023.
Giving: Dr Imtiaz Sooliman of The Gift of the Givers Foundation gave the opening address at FynArts 2023. The Gift of the Givers is the largest disaster response non-governmental organisation of African origin on the continent. © TheCapeRobyn/Robyn Cohen, June 10, 2023.

✳ Images © TheCapeRobyn/Robyn Cohen, June, 2023. Featured image – The Fixer by Conrad Hicks, Sculpture on the Cliffs: Walking Back to Happiness,