Do Swallows Eat Olives?

This commission for a private customer was a delight to make. My clients wanted a mosaic for their wall outside their house. After initial discussions by email and a site visit I made three drawings and they chose this one.

As my clients didn’t want very strong or bright colours I chose to use stained glass as I could choose colours that were not as bold as smalti but fresher than vitreous glass.

I was also able to use a fair amount of gold smalti. As the gold smalti was thicker than the stained glass I decided to make it indirect on plastic. It would need a fairly deep bed of cement adhesive to make a flat surface. The flat surface would make it easier to clean off any algae that might collect on it over the years.

Once the leaves and birds were complete I received my luscious order of gold!

There is always so much satisfaction when placing the last piece!

I used sand to stop the gaps so I could grout from the other side. Here you can also see the electrical cable flex I used as a temporary edge while I filled the mosaic with cement adhesive. (There’s always a use for broken things one day)

 

Thick bed of adhesive and levelling before pushing boards firmly on the top. (And piling on the weight to ensure a good hold)

I made a sandwich of light weight cement boards with adhesive in the middle (my partner called it a custard cream) not only for strength but also because the boards were in two halfs; the first layed horizontally and the second vertically.

However it was still very heavy!

After a few days drying it was turned over and the plastic pulled off.

The trunk was made as a separate piece.

Thought I’d learnt my lesson from the last one I made on plastic and I used a weaker pva glue than then, but it was still a devil to get clean.

Brushed out the sand and grouted.

And gazed at the gold…

I had some help with installing it on the wall.

Final touches glueing olives over the screws.

My two boys doing a few hours work for a change!!!

The Olive Tree (2.12m height x 1.20m wide) (stained glass, ceramic tile. marble, gold leaf smalti glass)

Details

 

One happy customer

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One happy me

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Mosaic Odysseys Festival – from London to Athens to Mykonos

feeding-doves

Two weeks ago I returned from Athens from the Mosaic Odysseys exhibition which has now moved onto Mykonos. Being in Greece was an inspiring experience, I climbed the Acropolis and Lykavittos Hill and even though there were crowds of people around me, I still felt a connection with the ancient Greeks and I was in awe of the Greek Gods.¬† Spread out before me was the whole of Athens and I imagined what it must have been like all those years ago with temples and lodgings scattered about. One evening on top of Lykavittos Hill I watched a storm brewing, lightning bolts lit the sky reminding me I was in Zeus’ territory.

The exhibition was held in the Michael Cacoyannis Foundation, a modern light and spacious building with a theatre. Our exhibition was displayed on two floors.There were more works on show than there were in London. More pieces by the¬† Greek artists and lovely big photos of pieces that were sold in London (printed by Lydia Papadopoulou’s husband). So the whole exhibition was there in a sense.

On Friday 9th September we had the inauguration. The place was buzzing with people all night. New people were met and lots was said.

Michael Cacoyannis Foundation

Michael Cacoyannis Foundation

 

Inauguration of Mosaic Odysseys in Athens

Inauguration of Mosaic Odysseys in Athens

 

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Me with my doves

Me with my doves and photos of my works sold in London

 

Sunrise in Athens

Sunrise in Athens

 

View from the Acropolis

View from the Acropolis

Now the exhibition is in Mykonos until 30th September. Unfortunately I can’t be there as I am at Somerset Crafts having set up a temporary studio for the duration of Somerset Art Weeks.

mykonos-poster

The work looks wonderful in a magical setting. I wish I was there! You can see pictures on the Mosaic Odysseys facebook page.

I have been reassured by Artemis Klitsi, one of the Greek mosaic artists that they are taking great care of my doves although they had trouble the first night keeping them from flying out to join the night life and the second day they wanted to fly to Delos!

Here is Lydia Papadopoulou feeding them with grapes!

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The Enchanter

This is the second piece I made for the Mosaic Odysseys festival.

I don’t think it needs much explanation except that I see the sun as an enchanter…always luring me¬†towards him.¬†And how enchanting he always is, how beautiful he colours¬†the sky when he rises and sets. I¬†want to bask in his light and feel his warmth on my¬†skin.

drawing enchanter

I made the sun with transparent coloured glass rounds, gold leaf glass and hand gilded metal leaf glass. I also gilded the board beforehand to emphasise the gold colour and add texture to the transparent rounds.

gilding the board

 

Detail before grout

Detail before grout

As well as using Italian piastrina smalti (the red and orange glass) I have also used a strong coloured glass tile very similar to piastrina smalti that was given to me by Elaine M Goodwin. She told me she had bought it from a tile company called Marble Mosaic Company based in Weston Super Mare in the 1980’s. She said they were an Italian family. I wanted to find out more so I got in touch with the company.

It is a fascinating story of the company’s mosaic history passed onto me by the Marble Mosaic Company director Stephen Maddalena. Stephen even came to do his first mosaic workshop with me where he told me more snippets of information and then sent me photos of the some of the company’s mosaic panels from the early 1900’s.

However I can’t do the story justice here so I will write another post about it soon with all the photos he sent me to show you!

So here is my finished piece.

The Enchanter (glass tile, gold leaf glass, millefiori, hand gilded metal leaf glass, glass rounds, metal leaf on board)

The Enchanter
(glass tile, gold leaf glass, millefiori, hand gilded metal leaf glass, glass rounds, metal leaf on board)

 

The Mosaic Odysseys Festival

The first exhibition will run for a week at the Hellenic Centre in London starting on Tuesday July 19th and finishing on Saturday July 23rd.

Meet the artists: Tuesday 19 July, 6.30pm-8.30pm.

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.

The festival will then move to Athens with an exhibition at the Michael Cacoyannis Foundation 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.

Have a look at our website here

Thank you to Artfinder for publicity and for sponsoring our printing costs!

Come back soon to read about the history of those vintage glass tiles

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Anglo ‚Äď Greek Mosaic Odysseys Festival

The Whirlwind That Takes Me There

I’ve been making some new work in the last few months for a festival of mosaic art involving 6 Greek and 4 other UK mosaic artists.

We aim to promote a cultural exchange between Greek and British mosaic artists in order to develop friendships and a professional network between us and an opportunity to showcase our works together.

Each artist will be exhibiting new mosaic work inspired by their own personal interpretation of the theme Mosaic Odysseys.

There were many ways to interpret a mosaic Odyssey and like some of the other Greek artists I chose Homer’s Odyssey for inspiration. The Odyssey is a wonderful story about the journey of Odysseus and his men returning home after the Trojan war.

At the same time I was considering making a series about the long journey’s of birds and perhaps as a metaphor for the journey’s of refugees. As I sifted through the Odyssey for inspiration, it became clear that it was the weather Odysseus encountered on his journey that connected all three ideas.

The weather is something we all understand (in a manner of speaking), yet when it’s written about in a mythological story it is deeply symbolic.

So through the challenges of my own artistic journey I made my first piece …

Whirlwind drawing

Whirlwind drawing

 

Whirlwind in progress

Whirlwind in progress

 

Detail before the grout

Detail before the grout

 

Grouting

Grouting

Grouting this piece was particularly harrowing, I wasn’t sure if I should do it but there were some areas that really needed it.

The finished piece …

The Whirlwind That Takes Me There

The Whirlwind That Takes Me There

(smalti, glass tile, gold and copper leaf glass tile, Jurassic Coast fossil, gold lipped oyster shell/mother of pearl, glass tile, glass gems, glass rod, glass marbles, marble, slate, quartz, hand gilded metal leaf glass, foil backed glass tile, ceramic tile, milliefiori, paint)

In this piece I used quite a variety of materials. The gold lipped oyster shell was particularly exciting to use as it was given to me by mosaic artist Elaine M Goodwin, who told me it came from Boris Anrep’s¬† workshop supplies. Anrep created mosaics in the National Gallery, Westminster Cathedral and the Bank of England amongst other monumental mosaics.

¬†The shell(s) must have been very large and they are cut into good sized chunks with a saw but I didn’t want the straight lines so I had to break the pieces. It’s really tough shell and was very difficult to cut. I had to slice it first with a hammer and hardy before breaking it into pieces.

 

detail whirlwind fb

Detail – The Whirlwind That Takes Me There

 

Detail

Detail

 

detail

Detail

Exhibiting artists in the Mosaic Odysseys exhibition:

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.

The first exhibition will run for a week at the Hellenic Centre in London starting on Tuesday July 19th and finishing on Saturday July 23rd.

Meet the artists: Tuesday 19 July, 6.30pm-8.30pm.

The festival will then move to Athens with an exhibition at the Michael Cacoyannis Foundation 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.

Have a look at our website here

Thank you to Artfinder  for publicity and for sponsoring our printing costs!

Come back soon to see my second piece for the festival that includes some vintage glass tiles with an interesting history

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Ten Years – Mosaic Exhibition

TEN YEARS

An exhibition of mosaic art by Kate Rattray

at Somerset Guild of Craftsmen, 23a Broad Street, Wells BA5 2DJ

9th May – 13th June 2016

PRIVATE VIEW – Friday 20th May 4-6pm

I am delighted to announce that I am presenting 10 years of my work at the new back room gallery at Somerset Guild of Craftsmen in  Wells.

Having worked in the art of mosaic for over 20 years now, the last 10 years has been the most productive for me. I have chosen works that explored my interest in folklore, weather, and the apocalypse, featuring birds, moths and butterflies.

Here are three from that apocalyptic year of 2012!

The Storm

The Storm

 

"Chorus at the Wake of the Sun" in sunlight

“Chorus at the Wake of the Sun”

 

Unfinished Symphony

Unfinished Symphony

And two of my latest pieces.

Black Swan

Black Swan

 

White Swan

White Swan

But much better to see them in the flesh amongst a total of 29 mosaics. And if you are interested I am running a mosaic workshop on 21st May in the gallery. See details and book here

Come and see!

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The Sky is Flying with Flock ‘n Roll!

I have been revisiting an idea I had in 2011 where I made three pieces of work for an exhibition called “Flocks” at the Craft Centre in Dartington, Devon.¬† You can see the 2011 works here
You can also read about my experiments using photoshop to get an idea of grout colour and how it might work here

And if you are still interested then you can see my animation here

Those pieces came about after spending a peaceful day on Priddy Moor on the Mendip Hills.
As I walked that day the sky was filled with the sound of larks singing, but as I looked into the sky I couldn’t see a single lark. It was as if they had blended into the sky; they made the sky the colour it was.

The Sky is Flying series

So here I am again cutting those bird shapes which I so love doing! Each work is a different sunset or a part of a sunset. While I work it is interesting to see how¬† the coloured glass works together. I try to replicate colours of the sky as much as I can but some combinations don’t work as I would expect them to and require a different shade which is sometimes quite a subtle change. ¬† I love the glass with the copper fleck bringing that extra hint of sunset light into the pieces.

It takes a little time to assemble the birds so that there is as little space around them as possible, whilst at the same time allowing them to fly free!

You may notice that some of my titles contain titles and lyrics stolen from a few of my favourite rock songs.

See if you can guess what they are. Answers on a postcard to:

Red House,

Black Dog Road,

Solsbury Hill,

Tin Pan Valley

or leave a comment below!

(Btw, I am not really that old, but I was brought up with the sound of 60’s and 70’s rock songs that over the years have become one with the fabric of my being! And today there are very few musicians who can play as well)

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Click the pictures to purchase on Artfinder!

£10 off any Artfinder art work by clicking this link http://artf.in/2Jp2Rg and joining

Birds Who Bring Sunset

Birds Who Bring Sunset

Flying Sunset

Flying Sunset

A Golden Winged Bird Passing my Way

A Golden Winged Bird Passing my Way

In Formation (the Code of Flying)

In Formation (the Code of Flying)

Amongst Birds of the Sleepy Red Glow

Amongst Birds of the Sleepy Red Glow

Moths on the Moon

Once upon a time, a very long time ago, before humans attempted to rule the earth, before a human was even born in fact, back in the time when the earth was made of blue butterflies, there was a very beautiful blue butterfly Queen, her name was Arion. Her particular skills were sky dancing, and she was admired by all the other butterflies for her grace and her ability to leave a¬† trail of beautiful patterns in the sky as she danced.¬† Now it came to pass that her best friend gave birth to another blue butterfly who grew up very strong and¬† beautiful , graceful and clever. Her name was Asthena. So clever was Asthena she was able to not only imitate Queen Arion and her wonderful dances in the sky, but she was able to turn the trail of patterns into little golden balls of dust. All the other butterflies admired her so much and asked her to dance for them every day. This made Queen Arion jealous and she began to turn green with envy, and one day in a fit of rage and mad fluttering she turned Asthena¬† white and banished her from the earth. Disagreeing with Queen Arion’s actions, many of the other blue butterflies on earth became agitated and began an uprising, but Queen Arion was having none of it and she turned them all white and banished them all from the earth.
Meanwhile Asthena flew in the dark away from the  blue earth below and became afraid, but when she turned to see her beautiful blue earth one more time she saw lots of white butterflies coming towards her. Together they flew on in the darkness until they became tired and there they formed a new world, we call it the moon.
Back on earth Queen Arion became sorry for what she had done, so she allowed the white butterflies to visit the earth at night, (in that way she wouldn’t have to see them and feel even worse for what she had done) she also gave them a new name – moths. However not being able to see very well the moths rarely visited earth at night, that was until humans invented artificial light …

Part 1 - Full Moon

Part 1 – Full Moon

 

Moths - Crescent Moon fb

Part 2 – Crescent Moon

 

Part 3 - New Moon

Part 3 – New Moon

Click the pictures for more details!

Story and art work © Kate Rattray