Monday, 29 August 2011

Magnificent mosaic #1

With my new Zen-Karoo garden planted, there wasn’t much left to do but sit back and wait for spring (then summer, then spring and summer again, and perhaps one more spring and summer), for the plants to grow in and the garden to start looking established. But two areas still disturbed me – both were untreated grey cement.

The pool pump, which had always been something of an eyesore (left, before renovations), was hidden and contained by the handy lads from the Riebeek Valley Garden Centre, using breeze blocks (below). The result, although it cut down on the noise and hid the pump components, was still umistakably just a big grey block between two beautiful beds. What to do?

I’ve tried to use only local inspiration, materials and labour in my house project, so I didn’t have to look far for who could transform these – my long-time friend Jill Gordon-Turner, an artist of exceptional imagination and talent, and the genius behind Hungry Heart Mosaics.

From initial discussion to completion of two mosaics took about four months. For the pump-housing mosaic, I asked Jill to work along a Karoo/endemic flower/plant theme, and, in May, we had several discussions about form and colour. Then Jill spent careful time taking measurements – because she works in her studio, these have to be exact so that when the mosaic is transferred, it fits perfectly.

This (left) was an early fitting, in mid July – Jill’s vigilance with the measurements was worth the time and effort, as it was exactly right.

And, last week, finally, after hours and hours and HOURS of intensive and concentrated labour, the mosaic was ready for installation.

Installation itself is a big job – which is why a mosaic artist needs to be multi-skilled, with not only oodles of artistic talent, but also plenty of know-how about the materials she works with, how the weather affects setting, grouting, cleaning and so on. And completed mosaics aren’t light, so a bit of muscle-power is also necessary.

The heavy lifting in this case was supplemented by Gerald, who prepped the wall to take the mosaic (above left), and then helped Jill lift it off the base it had been living on for so long (right). Between the two of them, they positioned it against the wall (above left), and then Gerald did the grouting (below right). This took a good couple of hours, and the job was still far from finished.

Over the next few days, Jill sat (literally in all weathers!) and carefully positioned the metal pieces, cleaned each tile, dug out grout that had covered itsy-bitsy pieces, regrouted sections that had been overlooked, and generally put the finishing touches to her amazing creation.

And here it is! Isn’t it just fantastically beautiful? It has a protea and a disa in it, plus a gasteria (with gorgeous, delicate iridescent detail in the leaves); a Swartland landscape (I love the two little houses in the middle-ground); several interesting flower- and mountain-shaped pieces of metal; a binding rune (in the circle), requested by my son; and ‘in vino veritas’, which was my daughter’s contribution. (This small picture doesn't do it justice - click on it to make it bigger so you can see the detail.)

The line that runs down the left side and along the bottom (also with its surprising little sparkly tiles) continues on the mosaic that Jill is busy installing on the firepit – the second mosaic has a completely different theme, and this line carries the eye between the two, especially when viewed from the verandah.

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Gretchen Bong Spoodle said...

Gorgeous. Magnificent. Other lovely words!

Mosaic south africa said...

What a beautiful collection of these Mosaics art. I have never seen such amazing mosaics artwork.