Let There Be Light (and Water)!

Pool of Dreams

 

I wanted to make a bird bath loosely based on The Whirlwind That Takes Me There only using a different colour palette.

Like my Pretty Maids and cockle shell bird baths, I made this one by hand forming the base using wire, glass fibre mesh (I recycle the mesh sheets that mosaic tiles come on) and cement mixtures. I have another bird bath I make using a bowl as a mould but I really prefer the hand shaped ones as they can be any shape and they are so imperfect which exaggerates the idea of hand-made. In this world of highly finished craft objects, this is possibly seen as taking a step back again, but maybe it’s important to do that from time to time otherwise we lose sight of what really is hand-made and the work begins to lose integrity. I see so many craft objects that do nothing for me. Ok, they are technically brilliant which is what the maker has strived for, but what has it become? It’s started as a blob of glass, clay or metal, it’s been melted, beaten, punched and hammered, it’s been transformed into something else, something beautiful maybe, but along the way it seems to somehow have lost it’s soul. Of course if you recognise this mosaic bird bath as an art piece, then perhaps I wouldn’t need to justify it, (since we know art is subjective and can be anything)  but as I always think of mosaic art as craft as well as an art form then I feel the need to justify it a little bit. So yes it has an imperfect shape and yes it is hand-made! And yes it holds water and looks lovely in the garden!

Rant over, I’ll show you some photos of the process…

I started by buying some beautiful ammonites. Madagascan and Jurassic coast.

I was very excited to finally be using some of my stoneware ceramic tiles I made in a pottery class over 15 years ago.

After making my bowl I rendered the bottom brushing the cement mixture to smooth the surface. This can be done at the end but I was waiting for my fossils to arrive!

I began with the large fossil in the centre and began to work around it. I didn’t really have a plan, it was quite spontaneous, I just placed several pieces next to the prior pieces and considered how it looked aesthetically.

 

 

And finally picking out the tile adhesive between the tiles before grouting.

When I had grouted it (charcoal colour) and it was finished it wasn’t until I added the water that I felt satisfied. The water brought up all the colours beautifully.

I have used gold leaf glass as well as my hand-gilded metal leaf glass and tried to get a photo to show it shining.

Some details.

Pool of Dreams is 60cm in diameter and holds over 4 litres of water.

I used fossils, glass tiles, vintage glass tiles, ceramic tiles, hand-made ceramic and gilded metal leaf glass, gold leaf glass, stained glass (iridescent), smalti, slate, glass marbles, glass nuggets, milliefiori, glass rods, gold-lipped oyster shell.

Happy Easter!

🙂

 

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Kingfishers

In the valley below the hill where I live there is a small village with a leat running along the edge of the fields and opposite a row of old and pretty cottages. There are often ducks on the leat and once I saw a very raggedy looking heron trying to catch a fish, but it always feels as if I have experienced a split second of magic when I catch a bright blue iridescent flash out of the corner of my eye.

kingfishers

See more photos of the Kingfishers and enjoy them on your wall!

 

 

 

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Starlings – are here again!

I’m on starlings again!

During the two weeks of Somerset Art Weeks I set up a temporary studio at the Somerset Crafts gallery. Whilst I was there I made 8 starlings. I wondered how long it would be before the starlings returned from Scandinavia, Germany or the Netherlands (according to the BBC nature website the ones from Scandinavia go to the North and the ones from Germany and the Netherlands come to the South) As I drove home each day my wondering was answered as I saw them stacking up on the telegraph wires.

I made these in the same way as my doves, who incidentally are on their flight home from Greece.

starlings-small

starlings-front-detailsmall

starlings-middle-small

starlings-back-small

starling-1-small

starling-2-small

starling-3-small

starling-side-view-small

Here they are at Somerset Crafts flying ahead of the murmuration “Beautiful Black Clouds”

starlings-at-sc

somerset-crafts

My work at Somerset Crafts

🙂

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

The Doves Who Bring Ambrosia to the Gods

Mosaic Odysseys Festival moving on to Athens and Mykonos

The first exhibition for the Mosaic Odysseys Festival at the Hellenic Centre  in London was a great success. We had a lot of visitors and several sales.
After selling my works “The Whirlwind That Takes Me There” , “The Enchanter“,and “The Four Winds“, I decided to make new works to send to Greece.
I wanted to make 3 dimensional birds and initially thought about my gold birds that appear in my work frequently. They would be more realistic and fly on their own odyssey to Athens…(only the courier would spoil my fantasy) . However I dipped into the BOOK once again (Homer’s Odyssey in case you wondered) …and found just what I was looking for.

It’s in the beginning of the section where Circe tells Odysseus how to escape from the House of Hades. She tells him how he must avoid the sirens song, then goes on to mention the overhanging and very high rocks that the gods call the Wanderers. She says …
“Here not even a bird may pass, no, not even the timid doves that bring ambrosia to Father Jove, but the sheer rock always carries off one of them, and Father Jove has to send another to make up their number…”

I decided to make the doves so they were partly 3 dimensional but so you can still hang them on the wall. And hang them rather like Hilda Ogden’s very “tasteful flying ducks” in Coronation Street!!  (Sorry, did I say tasteful? Oh yes, so I did)

I cut out my doves from plywood with only one wing and constructed the others 3 dimensionally. I have used a little of my hand gilded metal leaf glass in them.

dove progress 4

For the bodies I used polystyrene eggs and cut them in half.

dove progress 8

I chose these funny circle design milliefiori tiles for eyes to illustrate the exhaustion the dove feels after the journey!

dove progress 1

A persistent small spider wanted to get in on the action!

dove progress 5

Various glass on the inside wings.

dove progress 7

Wings are fixed securely.

Bodies and copper wire feet are attached.

dove detail2

Fly my babies…

doves who bring ambrosia small

The Doves Who Bring Ambrosia to the Gods (take 1)

The tin of rice pudding is of course a joke, although I am tempted to use it in the exhibition.  However there are shipping issues getting tins of food through customs as well as copyright issues using the logo. I wrote to Ambrosia, but I got no reply.
So they will bring symbolic gifts …

doves who bring ambrosia small 1

The Doves Who Bring Ambrosia to the Gods (take 2)

…where ambrosia is a nectar or a honey made by bees and flowers.

Close up…

dove silver 1 small

dove silver 2 small

dove gold small

The Mosaic Odysseys exhibition will be at the Michael Cacoyannis Foundation in Athens from September 9th to September 18th.

The final exhibition will be at the Muncipal Art Gallery of Mykonos, starting 23rd September and finishing 3rd October.

Exhibiting artists –

Greek artists :

Ioannis Touliatos, Artemis Klitsi, Eftychia Finou, Vasso Spanou, Lydia Papadopoulos, Alexandros Bassadis,

UK artists:

Dugald MacInnes, Nathalie Vin, Aliyahgator, Arianna Puntin, and myself.

Have a look at our website here

Want to offer sponsorship? Get in touch!

🙂

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Mary Mary Quite Contrary Bird Baths

The last few weeks I have been making bird baths for the Bishops Palace English Country Garden Festival in Wells this weekend. Today was the first day but you still have a chance to come along tomorrow or Sunday!

I thought how nice it would be to make some work based on a garden theme and remembered that old traditional English nursery rhyme …

“Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary,
How does your garden grow?
With Silver Bells and Cockle Shells,
And Pretty Maids all in a row”

I have read that there are different views about the meaning of the rhyme, some say it was about the reign of  Mary Queen of Scots, while others believe it was about Mary Tudor. The rhyme might suggest religious metaphors of Catholicism (silver bells) and maybe the pretty maids all in a row symbolise the rows of Protestants that were executed by Mary Tudor.
However if the rhyme was written not long before it was first published in 1744 then this would be unlikely as both queens reigned in the sixteenth century. But then it could have been written earlier …

I find it interesting that many traditional nursery rhymes appear to be all sweet and innocent but turn out to reveal a much more sinister meaning.

However I made these bird baths in all sweetness and light, taking the nursery rhyme only as it reads!

They are all hand formed shapes (some using a mould and some without) using cement mortar mixtures.

Here is a collection of the baths at the garden festival.

Silver bells, cockle shells and pretty maids all in a row, displayed in different ways, on cobbles, terracotta drainpipes, slates and balustrade plinths to help customers imagine ways they could place them in their gardens …

Silver Bells, Cockle Shells and Pretty Maids All in a Row at the Bishops Palace

 

Silver Bells

 

Silver bells

 

Cockle Shells

 

pretty maids fb

And Pretty Maids All in a Row

 

And a flower bowl

 

At the Bishops Palace

At the Bishops Palace

 

Click here if you would like to know more about the English Country Garden Festival and visit.

🙂

 

 

Starling Sculpture Shocker on Shapwick Heath!

Installation Day – Thursday 21 May

Following on from the last post, I managed to fit all the gubbins into my car in one go! Amazing!

car copy

It was a beautiful day and the guys from the Avalon Marshes dug the pits for my bamboos.

Simon

Then I took a little time to arrange the birds.

me installing

I was so pleased with the finished installation and thought the starlings have come early to the marshes and look fabulous in their natural environment! When the grasses grow up they will blend in even more and some will be hidden for a while at least until the winter. The copper sheet of the beaks will change colour from copper to verdigris green. I was looking forward to recording the changes.

I wondered what the real starlings would think of them when they returned in the autumn!

starlings2

 

starlings5

starlings6

starlings8

starlings9

starlings1

 

me and starlings

Launch Day – Sunday 24th May

I was feeling very disheartened today having heard the news yesterday that a bamboo was snapped and a starling had been stolen. I didn’t sleep last night until the birds started to sing and I had listened to them for half an hour. What if the thieves returned during the night and stole the rest of them? And were they stolen or thrown in the lake? On arrival at the gallery I looked at photographic evidence before I took a group of students to look at them and discovered that not one but two had been stolen!

Here are some of my students who helped make them (apart from those two little imps!)

group 2 starlings

The two stolen starlings are the first and last in the flight path, here you can see where they once were.

Sunday 2 missing

So rather than leaving them out there for someone to keep picking them off like 21 green bottles (now 19) we decided to bring them into the safety of the gallery until we can find them a more secure spot outside.

So here they are where at the very least they cast beautiful shadows when the sun shines!

starlings in gallery

There are several sculptures by my collegues at Somerset Crafts along the trail which I will share with you at some point when I get some good photos. Maybe then I’ll have some news about where the starlings will go next!

But for now if you see a wayward mosaic starling in someone’s garden or on ebay please let me know.

🙂

Seeing Starlings Sculpture Launch

For the last few weeks I have been making starlings for a sculpture trail on Shapwick Heath nature reserve along the Avalon Marshes in Somerset. As you know I have become completely obsessed with these amazing birds even after they have left the area! I wanted to make my own flock so that would always be here.

I started the project with a series of workshops where I was able to teach 11 students a bit or all of the process to make a bird sculpture. The design was one I developed prior to the workshops so I could teach them by step-by-step demonstration.

3rd workshop7

This got the birds off to a flying start (!) and I completed unfinished sculptures and made new ones to make a final 21 starlings plus one that will be in the gallery. Here are a few in various stages of progress…

starling sculptures

Like my 2d starling mosaics I used iridescent black glass tile, and mixed it with plain black glass. I used copper sheet for the beaks and they are grouted in black. I think they look pretty good, here’s one…

starling2

This project took some planning.  The main problem being how to install them so they would be secure and wouldn’t  be prone to too much movement in the wind which could casue them to hit each other and break. My first idea was to weld the metal armature wires onto a vertical curved pole but I felt that the final piece would be too cumbersome and could be difficult to install. I then spent several days considering other options, such as welding them horizontally along a tube, onto rigid metal mesh, or inserting the bird wires into various types of tubing. Eventually I chose the latter idea using bamboo.  Not only was it a good support structure (the bird wires fitted perfectly into the bamboo sheath) but it would also blend in well with the reeds in the background. The bamboos are also strong and cheap.

So they were cut to various sizes and the holes drilled open and tried out and tested in my garden before sinking them into buckets of concrete.

Here I am mixing concrete to set the bamboos into.

Here I am mixing concrete to set the bamboos into

6 buckets later …

6 buckets

…and I am wondering if they will all go in the car to the site…

Come back next week to find out if they did and see the starlings installed! (hopefully!)

😉

Alternatively, if you don’t live far away come to our Launch Day next Sunday 24th May at Somerset Crafts gallery (where there will be photos of the works as they progressed) and along Shapwick Heath for the Sculpture Trail. There will be several sculptures by fellow members of Somerset Crafts inspired by local wildlife and myth.