As part of the Abirdabode Exhibition, myself and Richard Dawson couldn’t resist creating some of our own art bird boxes. We got so carried away we couldn’t fit them all into the Gallery as part of the main exhibition so came up with a sneaky plan to install them into the library downstairs.
Having got the go ahead from Oldham Library, who were brilliant and completely open to our weird requests, we spent an afternoon installing the boxes on the shelves in the main library. The ten boxes have now formed an art bird box trail amongst the books and the only clues to find them consist of Dewey Decimal numbers and subject headings.
I’ve been ridiculously busy for the past six weeks working on my mosaic commission for the Royal Brompton Hospital in London. The project started six months ago when I worked with lots of patients, staff, parents and visitors to create leaf shaped mosaics that would eventually become part of a larger piece for permanent display in the courtyard at the hospital.
After a fairly wet and chilly weekend, all the mosaics were installed on the walls and looking fantastic. We celebrated on Monday with an opening event which some of the original participants came to. We had great fun trying to find their individual mosaics from the hundred or so that were included in the final artwork.
Each ‘leaf’ shape within the mosaic artwork was made by a participant in the hospital workshops. Once I had gathered all the participants’ artwork, I spent a few days arranging and rearranging the mosaics to get all the colours and individual layouts to work. These were then transferred to larger templates and I mosaiced around the leaves to fill in the background colours. These were chosen to compliment the participants’ mosaics but also to bring some much needed greenery to the hospital courtyard.
I also kept the in-fill mosaics to a fairly simple design, with most mosaics cut in a Byzantine tile form (20mm x 10mm) and laid in a primarily Opus Classicum layout. Opus Classicum is a combination of Opus Tessellatum and Opus Vermiculatum whereby the tiles are primarily laid in a brickwork pattern with any ‘objects’ within the background surrounded by tiles following its form. This allowed the mosaic pieces to really highlight the participants’ work whilst creating a simpler background to also set them off.
Last week myself and Richard Dawson spent a day at Dove Stone Reservoir installing the new RSPB Wayfinders. Made from solid oak, with CNC’d lettering and mosaic detail, the posts have been carefully designed and created to be sympathetic to the space at the same time as being useful! The mosaics all show flora and fauna found at Dove Stone and aim to inform visitors about local wildlife.
We had beautiful weather after a very wet Friday (nice soft ground) which made for a relatively easy installation, apart from the stones and the inaccessibility of some wayfinder sites by vehicle. Thanks to Sam and Joe who came and did some excellent hole digging and lumping of heavy things! And thanks to the lovely dog walker who supplied us with some wine gums in Binn Green car park.
Having completed two sets of workshops at the Royal Brompton Hospital in June, I trotted off to London this week to pick up the final completed mosaics and to present the final designs to rb&h Arts.
For the workshops, I spent two days working with patients, visitors, staff and passers-by to develop designs and ideas for the final artwork and then two days making mosaics, using a leaf shape as a basic template. During the workshops we made over 70 mosaic leaves which will all be incorporated into the final artwork.
I also created 50 mosaic ‘packs’ for people to take away and use or for people that couldn’t make it down to the workshops. These consisted of a bag of mosaics, a leaf template on brown paper, a pot of PVA, a glue brush and a set of mosaic instructions. The packs proved really popular and they were all used which was fantastic!
I’ve created a design based on the same leaf template but at a much larger scale. Each ‘leaf’ incorporates the mosaics created during the workshops and these leaves will be displayed around the courtyard. I’ve used every single one of the mosaics made which at the last count was 93 individual pieces.
Next job – reverse the mosaics made during the workshops as these were made using the double indirect method. I’ll use the indirect method to make the larger pieces.
I also delivered some of my leaf prints to the hospital as they are being used for a small exhibition in the foyer there alongside promoting the mosaic project.
Images © rb&hArts at Royal Brompton & Harefield NHS Foundation Trust
Here are 18 of the completed mosaics for the RSPB way markers at Dove Stone Reservoir. The mosaics will be inserted into wooden fingerposts which are being made by Richard Dawson who has already created this wooden arch at the reservoir. The flora and fauna shown in the mosaics are all found at Dove Stone with the Peregrine Falcon and the Mountain Hare being particularly important to the site.
For the second year running, myself and Peter Castle have won a silver medal at the RHS Tatton Flower Show for New Charter’s show garden ‘A Day at the Seaside’. We also went one step better this year with the garden featured on the BBC2 programme about RHS Tatton. Joe Swift commented that though the design was simple ‘it really worked’ – yes!!!
This year’s build has had it’s own challenges with the non-stop heat and little shade but I think I prefer it to sideways rain! I’m really pleased with the overall effect and think the planting has worked really well. Thanks to Brentwood Moss Nurseries for the plants – incredibly helpful and fantastic quality. Thanks also to all the volunteers and helpers who did a brilliant job, especially my sister and my Dad!
Here’s a few screen shots from the BBC programme – they have the advantage of a camera on a crane so there are some good overhead shots! And one of Joe Swift admiring the plants and mosaic fish…
The other artwork to be included in New Charter’s RHS show garden will be 45 mosaic fish, all swimming amongst the flowers and plants that represent the sea. Each double-sided mosaic fish is mounted on a steel rod and they will be displayed individually and in shoals. The fish were all made by young people from the New Charter Dreamscheme group and they look absolutely fantastic. Here’s one I made as an example being ‘roadtested’ in my garden.
And here’s the young people’s fish, grouted and ready to have their steel rod attached. There’s a big complicated table which lists whose fish is whose – everyone that made a mosaic will get it back once Tatton has finished.