Keep Warm and Safe … see you in 2017
Keep Warm and Safe … see you in 2017
As I watched the sun go down over the hill one evening, it shone directly through the middle of a tree in the distance. It seemed as if it had burnt a hole right through the tree and the leaves around it gradually changed colour from orange to green. The photo I took didn’t reveal the colours, but here it is anyway:
I made a coloured sketch allowing a fair amount of artistic licence to creep in!
I was going to make the background with stained glass strips in sunset colours that gradually change into rain at the bottom of the picture, but as I layed out the background it didn’t feel right. There was too much colour and it seemed to compete and clash with the leaves. So I chose a blue sky of vitreous glass tiles which changed into a rain of grey vitreous tiles and strips of mirror glass.
I played with the photo after I had finished the mosaic and I quite like this:
The Somerset Guild of Craftsmen’s next exhibition is called “Whither The Ash” – it appears to be a very topical theme at the moment, not surprisingly, as we are still losing our beautiful trees. I can’t exhibit my sculpture of “The Last Tree” (see last post) made in response to this issue at the Guild gallery because it is soon to be transported down to Delamore House for the exhibition there in May. So I decided to make a small wall mosaic for the Guild’s exhibition.
I wanted to illustrate the last part of the Norse Myth – Ragnarok – the destruction of the old world that led to the creation of a new world.
There was the burnt out lightening torn ash down the road that continued to inspire me throughout the ash tree project. The perfect hollow ash to protect Lif and Leifthrasir who sheltered there to survive the destruction, bringing life into a new world.
I made a coloured sketch:
I used irregular smalti, marble and stones, matt ceramic tile and gold leaf glass and worked directly to allow the mosaic to have texture. I felt that this would describe the turmoil of the apocalypse better than a flat surface.
I found standing up with the work on an easel was much better too, helping not only ease my back after a bout of flu, but also to work in a more spontaneous manner. I felt more like I was painting with oils than breaking and sticking!
I hope you can see Lif and Leifthrasir crouching inside the ash. I painted the grout chrome to highlight their outline, but also to suggest that they are lit up by the flashes of light from the tumultuous skies.
“Lif and Leifthrasir will hide themselves in Hoddmimir’s Holt. The morning dew they have for food, from them springs mankind.” (from the Eddic poem – The Lay of Vafthrudnir. 45)
My sun and tree mosaic is finished. I had to redo the leaves because I originally made them onto glass that I cut slightly bigger than the leaf parts laid onto it. I did this as a way to make the grout line around the leaves quite thick, however it just resulted in looking clumsy. So I laid fresh metal leaf glass onto the leaves. Although none of the tiles are completely level in this mosaic, the leaves stand slightly proud of the sun, and I like this as it helps to create an almost realistic feel to the work. In the photo the sun looks quite red, and you would be forgiven if your think that my attempt to make it more orange by putting the gold foil underneath hasn’t worked, however I took the photo outside in a cold grey light as it makes the most of the other colours, but in brighter lights you can see the gold shining through.
I have called this piece “The Embrace” . It is part 1 of a series called “Catching the Sun”. Here the tree attempts to catch the sun in order to harness the power or light. And it is also an “embrace” – a thanksgiving or gratitude for the light it has received, so it can produce new leaves each year and thrive.
After making my coloured drawings for The Embrace I was inspired by Ian Stewart’s tv series “How to Grow a Planet” where he explains how plants harness the light from the sun to create our life-giving atmosphere and how they are able to adapt and change in order to survive.
Part 2 and 3 of my series “Catching the Sun” will illustrate other instances of harnessing the sun and our relationship with it.
Come back soon and see the beginnings of part 2!
You won’t believe the trouble I had trying to find suitable gold foil for the underside of my sun! In the previous post I showed you the transparent smalti laid onto some gold foiled tape. I thought this is the stuff I would use, I have a big reel of it, however it is sticky, but not sticky enough to stick to my cement board. I tried sticking it with silicone, but the glue already on it interfered with the adhesion. I tried various other foils I have lying about collected from the scrapstore. One was a gold book covering with “Taking Popular Music Seriously – Selected Essays – Simon Frith” printed on it. Interesting stuff… My silicone was old, so I tried some Bostik. Once in contact with the gold book covering it discoloured, shrivelled a bit and gave off an awful smell. Then I read on the tube “don’t use with cellulose paint” – maybe this was the gold colour of the book jacket material! Wow, how we learn!!
Hunting about the house for more foil, I found a bit in the children’s making box. Oh why, I was thinking, did I throw away the christmas wrapping paper after it had been ripped off the presents this year, I am sure there would have been some gold there, and to think I used to keep everything! The foil from the gold coins would have been good…but wait…both of my scrummy young teenagers did a spot of tidying at the weekend. They tidied their rooms, the first time since…well god knows when…which means…
…into the wheelie bin, head first…yuck…yuck again…hang on…here we are…two, three, four, five gold coin wrappers!
So here is the progress on my sun/tree mosaic. I grouted the tree and the leaves that are made from my handmade copper and gold leaf first, as I wanted the grout black on these bits as the rest may not be. I want the sun to have that close up magnified sort of look, so the different shades of foil and it being scrunched up beneath the red transparent smalti that I am going to use should do the trick.
Come back soon to see the final mosaic!
We all know how refreshing it is to look at kids art. Unrefined, naive, thoughtful and completely original! Sometimes artists try hard to bring that naivety back. Some succeed but others fail, perhaps they have learned too much about techniques and the world in general. Maybe the best way is not to learn the techniques and not to get out much! (The last bit is easy in the middle of Somerset!)
Because it is the summer holidays, I thought I would share with you some of my kids mosaics as a break from my work. (back soon with that!)
From the most recent and back through the years:
Arthur likes to make art that has some meaning. In “Secrets” there are four symbols, the bird, the tree, the keep,and the key. The pathway runs between mankind and nature. The bird lives in the tree and the key opens the keep. There is more to it but it is a secret!
In the tree Arthur has made the trunk like a soda glass with a straw sucking up the carbon of the fossil fuels (represented in the mirror). The golden leaves are also hands that hold the glass.
The large paving stones below were made in 2000 with my 3 boys. Then using recycled low fired ceramics and having been jumped on regularly without being laid properly into the ground have now suffered the ravishes of time.
Here is a picture of Charlie age 7 taking the paper off his Pterodactyl.