Sculpture on The Cliffs: Walking Back to Happiness #FynArts2023  

Where: Gearings Point, Hermanus, South Africa

Exhibition opening: June 10 at 12.30pm – opening address by Bina Genovese, Joint Managing Director of Strauss & Co. Free event – no tickets needed

When: FynArts Festival in Hermanus is on June 9-18, 2023 but the exhibition stays up for a year

Panel discussion prior to the opening: June 10 – 11am-12pm in the Windsor Hotel – tickets R100  

Link: or see or see  

Exhibition info: There is no charge to attend the exhibition. There will be plaques with info on the work and artist more information via QR codes

Participating artists: Ashley Walters , Conrad Hicks , Frank van Reenen , Guy du Toit , Hannelie Coetzee , Jaco Sieberhagen , Jacques Dhont , Kevin Brand , Sophia Van Wyk , Wilma Cruise

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

Walking Back to Happiness is the fabulously cheerful theme for the 2023 edition of Sculpture on the Cliffs – the outdoor public art exhibition at the FynArts Festival in Hermanus. The exhibition features work by South African artists, placed at Gearings Point. Melvyn Minnaar is the curator for the 2023 Sculpture on the Cliffs and he chose the theme: Walking Back to Happiness, prompted by the jolly 1960s hit of the same name, written by John Schroeder and Mike Hawker and made famous by Helen Shapiro. Ten artists are exhibiting in 2023 on Sculpture on the Cliffs. There is no charge to access the exhibition and it is wheelchair and pram friendly. The exhibition opens on June 10 at 12.30pm, during FynArts. Bina Genovese, Joint Managing Director of Strauss & Co is opening the exhibition and there is no charge for the opening event. Prior to the opening, Minnaar will be in conversation with some of the participating artists, “about their interpretation of the theme, as well as how they see the role of their public sculpture in social well-being.” Tickets apply for this event which will take place at the Windsor Hotel [June 10 – 11am-12pm]. Book here for the panel discussion: Read on for more:

TCR: Sculpture on the Cliffs has a “happy” theme this year: Walking Back to Happiness- a great theme and something we need right now. The theme interests me in that so many people have been saying that festivals are often gruelling and not “happy” experiences but everyone who I have spoken to who has gone to FynArts has said that it has recharged them – the destination – the ocean – the hospitality of the town. Comments on the “happy” of FynArts 2023?

Melvyn Minnaar:  By their nature, I think, arts festivals are sustenance for the soul. Offerings are to stimulate mind and emotion, set-up conversation, etc. If not an escape, they offer a kind of experience that taps into the pleasure that culture in all its complexity can bring. ‘Happiness’, I see in this sense. I can’t label the entire festival as ‘happy’ (not all is under my guidance!) but I think over the years the joy of attending FynArts events has indeed recharged many patrons  

TCR:   Would you say that in light of the theme, the vibe this year for the exhibition, is on the celebratory, whimsical and happy- a playground for visitors to walk back to happiness?

Melvyn Minnaar:  Again: I cannot speak for and about the entire programme, but my Sculpture-on-the-Cliffs motive is hopefully going the reflect that. But not simply as entertainment. Yet I’ve tried to trigger creativity among the participating artists in the sculpture project that expresses or formulate something of the pleasure and cheer of an intellectual playground. So there is some whimsical stuff. Surprise is often part of pleasure.       

TCR:  Can you reflect on the “role of public sculpture” in “social well-being”? On June 10, you are leading discussion with some of the artists, around this theme. Your thoughts?

Melvyn Minnaar:  Public art has for a long time been one of my major interests and I have been to many such events all over the world, including workshops, symposia, exhibitions, etc al. It comprises a wide variety of motivations (monuments, propaganda, simple entertainment, etc). And it can be proper and decent art (other than kitsch or silly).

To be honest, not every previous year’s sculptures passed the test, but I have watched the reaction of ordinary visitors and their selfie pics with the artworks and this is joyful encounters, even if sometimes baffling. (See ‘pleasure’ above!)

TCR: Insights into some of the works and what one can look out for?

Melvyn Minnaar:  I am dead set again explaining art to anyone. That lies squarely in the art itself. People who are flummoxed may just want to ask themselves why they are reacting that way. I always say: take another look and ask yourself ‘why/how/what?’ Have a conversation with yourself.

TCR: How did you go about selecting the artists for Sculpture on the Cliffs 2023?

Melvyn Minnaar:  This is a difficult question, because many, many factors come into play – mainly questions about and limitations involving logistics and costs.

Once a curator formulates a theme, you hunt around in your head who and what you know. Then a process of balance, including gender, media, etc. is negotiated in you blue print, even before you start asking the artists. I believe (although I dislike the term) a curator’s job is to bring together a cohesive and stimulating message.     

TCR: Did you commission new work as site responsive pieces or did you select existing work?

This ideally, for me, work should be site commissioned. But this takes time and, unfortunately, good money (sponsorship). This year both were short and the result is a combination.

TCR: Who decides where each work goes?  Do you work with the artists in placing the work on the cliffs?

Melvyn Minnaar:  Yes, but over the years the ‘route’ has kind of defined itself. Sometimes sculptures just immediately suggest where they want to be placed.

TCR:  Are visitors encouraged to touch the works and interact with the works or must one look and not touch?

Melvyn Minnaar:  Well, as long as you don’t break off a piece – like, unfortunately, some people seem to be compelled to do. Some are obviously more touchable, others just invite you for a selfie.

TCR: Is there a map of the route for Sculpture on the Cliffs- Walking Back to Happiness?

Melvyn Minnaar:  We have plaques and there is more information via QR codes.

TCR:   In tandem with Sculpture on the Cliffs, FynArts presents Art in the Auditorium. Artists who have exhibited at Sculpture on the Cliffs have been invited to exhibit and works are for sale. Have you also curated this exhibition?

Melvyn Minnaar:  No, but it is now a tradition and a rather jolly side-show.

TCR:  In addition to Sculpture on the Cliffs, you are presenting the Mini Wine Plus Series of Tutored tastings. Can you give us some insights please? And you are doing presentation on the art of Kevin Atkinson at the Marine Hotel. Comments about the wine, Kevin Atkinson and general comments about your involvement with FynArts?

Melvyn Minnaar:  I’ve been drawn into this festive web spun by Mary Faure in my town of childhood (very little of that remains, unfortunately) for a decade and the wine series has been a regular. Like a curator’s job mentioned above, the challenge has always been to bring something unusually-themed to the wine series.

This year two previous wine heroes, Beyer Truter and Pieter Ferreira, return (full houses already), while my friends Joaquim Sa of the Amorim cork company and Christiaan Eedes, editor of, will do two presentations that will probably never again be possible. Aged fortified wines from Portugal, and a series of South African wines in perfect condition dating back to 1963 is on offer.

With my friend, the late Marilyn Martin, we brought some input on the visual art side. I curated with her a festival exhibition a few years ago of which I am still very proud, and last year I took over her work as curator of the festival show when she sadly passed away a month before. She was finishing her magnum opus of our mutually-admired Kevin Atkinson – hence this little art event/talk at The Marine.

Curating art and wine: Melvyn Minnaar is the curator for the 2023 Sculpture on the Cliffs: Walking Back to Happiness at FynArts 2023. He is also presenting the Mini Wine Plus Series of Tutored tastings and is doing a presentation on the art of Kevin Atkinson at the Marine Hotel. Pic – supplied.

✳ Featured image – aerial view of Hermanus – photograph by Martin Etsebeth. Related coverage on TheCapeRobyn: