The wonderful glass mosaic signage has always added a touch of class to Manchester’s Victoria Station. The ornate lettering is made from gold smalti, a glass and gold leaf mosaic material, beautifully set against the blue surround. (although now in need of careful attention)
Most of the ornate signage is currently obscured from view whilst refurbishment works at Victoria near completion. These photographs are a reminder of the art nouveau style, and you can see at once that these designs were most probably influenced by the contemporary work of Angelo Orsoni.
Whilst the Orsoni piece below incorporates many more shades of green and exemplifies the textural qualities attainable using hand-made smalti, the foliage in the Victoria Station designs is more flamboyant in its swirly gesture. I would imagine that having pushed the boat out to accommodate the cost of the gold smalti, a more restrained approach to the rest of the palette must have been essential to stay within budget. Of course, in aesthetic terms, the limited palette is highly effective in creating a consistency and simplicity, that today we might refer to as it’s ‘corporate identity’.
Elegant, British designed and made spun steel fire bowls to bring some Pagan passion to all your summer parties. Now you can stay toasty warm outdoors long after the sun goes down.
Our gorgeous big fire bowl creates a stylish focal point for outdoor entertaining, as well as a great source of warmth and light on chilly evenings. Designed in Manchester by my talented husband, Paul Wigley and available from my main website.
The original floor was laid circa 1910, I suspect, by a team of expert Italian mosaic floor layers. Large expanses of white opus circulatum, broken up with occasional silver grey tesserae, framed by a simple geometric border embracing blues, greens, yellow and silver grey follow the shape of the room. A modular unit of half-inch square tesserae, approximately ten millimetres thick, hand cut to shape from unglazed porcelain tiles. Unglazed porcelain is a surprising choice of material for this type of floor. Both Manchester Town Hall (built 1877) and Victoria Baths – Manchester’s famous “Water Palace” – (completed 1906) also have traditional Roman style mosaic floors but they are made entirely of marble. However, porcelain is tougher and considerably harder to cut.
At some point in the station’s history, the space was divided with partition walls to create a warren of offices and their floors were covered with carpets. To facilitate the 2014 heritage refurbishment, the carpets were lifted and the walls removed, revealing ingrained dirt, thick deposits of carpet adhesive and wide channels of completely absent floor. Some of these channels were deep but they were all different. In total, I calculated from the plan later, they constituted a total surface area of about four and a half square metres.
During my site visit, I collected a selection of salvaged tesserae for colour matching, a set of dusty grey images taken on my phone camera and a sketch plan of the areas to be addressed, with notes. My ‘to do’ list was already considerable: match and price materials, check delivery times, estimate the work involved and submit a quotation, consult with technical advisers about cleaning, adhesives, put together a team of assistants etc; etc…. It was the middle of April and the First Class Refreshments Room refurbishment was scheduled for completion at the end of May. Hmmm…
However, when working with contractors who are contracted to main contractors who are working for developers who check everything with the client the paperwork takes a few weeks to process. Four weeks later, I was given the go-ahead to order materials and a start date of the first week of June!
The first task was to make patterns for the missing floor areas. I used newsprint paper and cobbler’s wax to take rubbings of the surrounding tesserae and pick out the shape of each missing section. Then I marked onto the pattern the colours of the tesserae for reference. Back at the studio, my team – Paul and Karen – cracked on with the relentless cutting and washing of tesserae.
I met with the Site Manager and Heritage Officer on site to look at a made up sample of mosaic work and check that everybody was happy with the quality of the work, the colour match and the reproduction of the geometric pattern. They were delighted. Within a week I was ready for the first stage of installation: the replacement mosaic sections in the priority lobby area, just outside the First Class Restaurant.
In total, the job took just under six weeks to complete. During these weeks, Karen was helping me to produce the mosaic sections in the studio, Paul continued to cut down tiles for at least two days a week and I installed on site in stages, making the most efficient use of the team’s availability throughout the project.
The completion of the work was immensely satisfying and has been an excellent experience. I’m now looking forward to the next phase of works at Victoria Station, scheduled for 2015.
What an interesting, varied and fantastic year 2014 proved to be for Tracey Cartledge Limited!
Highlights included creating a landmark sculpture outside the Weaver Hall Museum in Northwich…
…making and installing part two of the Longford Park pavement mosaic features…
…the contract to repair the mosaic floors at Victoria Station, Manchester…
…and my first work selected to represent the UK at the Rencontres Internationales de Mosaique exhibition in Chartres…
So, I’m hoping that this time next year there will have been more challenges and interesting projects to report!
Thank you for taking the time to visit my blog.
Now available in their newly created packaging, a cute collection of mini mosaic kits that you will love and here’s a quick peep at the first four designs that are now available on my website:
As soon as I have some photos, I’ll show you the new packages. They’re adorable!
Yarlside Nursery and Primary School in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria invested in one of our school project packs for the autumn term 2013. They wanted to create a colourful set of stepping stones for their new wildlife area, so they chose the ‘Mosaic Stepping Stone Pack for 30‘.
A year on, they still had enough materials left in their pack to run a second project and make another set of brilliant stepping stones. They sent me these photos of their talented pupils with the fabulous work that they made this time. There must be quite a lot of expertise at Yarlside Primary School by now. I wonder what projects they’ll tackle next?
“With every additional step you enhance immensely the value of your first”
(Ralph Waldo Emerson)