Tag Archives: mosaic

Dynamic Mosaic


The Vogeltreppe Mosaic Project, Pirmasens, Germany 2019

The pure energy, excitement and ambition of her ground-breaking projects made an enormous impression on the audience of the BAMM Forum in 2013 when many of us met Isidora Paz Lopez for the first time. Her presentation, showing the extraordinary scale of public art projects that she had recently spearheaded in Chile, had an immediate impact and many of us were ready to rush out to join her at the first possible opportunity.

In 2014, a handful of UK BAMM members keenly accepted Isidora’s invitation to take part in “The First International Urban Mosaic Intervention.” This project involved a total of eighty artists travelling from twenty two countries, together with twenty local artists, and took place in the beautiful town of Puente Alto in the south of Santiago, Chile. Each artist created their own section of a long “Magic Garden” mosaic mural that breathed new life into the façade of the town hall building that it was directly installed onto.

Fly forward to 2019. Isidora has relocated from South America to live with her German husband and family close to Pirmasens, a town traditionally associated with Germany’s shoe industry. The town is economically depressed but Isidora is ready to launch her public art business locally with a project that has the potential to act as a catalyst for regeneration. Successful negotiations with the municipality of Pirmasens lead to the commissioning of the “Vogeltreppe Mosaic”. Not so big compared to Isidora’s previous commissions but at a scale and budget that the authorities are comfortable to start out with.

The site for the Vogeltreppe mosaic. Photo by Tracey Cartledge

The title of the project, “Vogeltreppe”, refers to the theme of birds and the site for the mosaic: an external concrete and steel stairwell, literally “Bird Stairs”. Pirmasens sits in a valley with streets at different levels, so hills and staircases appear frequently. Isidora announced the project to her friends, fans and Facebook followers in autumn, 2018. She invited artists to join two teams for stages of mosaic production taking place in February (Team Alpha) and March (Team Omega), 2019. There was also an invitation to make a native bird in mosaic on mesh and send it to her for inclusion in the mosaic. Some artists did both. In no time at all, a contingent of chirpy, colourful characters was winging its way to Pirmasens from all corners of the globe. More than one hundred birds have now safely landed ready to take up their position on the mosaic staircase.

BAMM members in Team Alpha taking part in the Vogeltreppe Mosaic Project in Pirmasens: Katy Galbraith, Isidora Paz Lopez, Tracey Cartledge and Jan Johnson. Photo by Cinzia Venturini.

Katy Galbraith, Jan Johnson and I were the three BAMM artists from the UK who ventured to Pirmasens to be part of Team Alpha. We arrived in the town ready to begin work on the morning of Tuesday 4th February, making our way to the workspace inside the Dynamikum building for a 10.00 am start. Having travelled on an icy cold evening, trudging through snow the night before, it was an absolute delight to be welcomed on our walk to work with glorious sunshine. Best foot forward, as we entered the former shoe factory building that now offers an interactive science museum experience with the key topic “motion”. Aptly enough.

Dynamikum Building, Pirmasens. Photo by Tracey Cartledge

Our week began with an introduction to the project, a brief introduction from each of us to the rest of the group followed by the presentation of gifts: a fabulous green Vogeltreppe work apron and a pair of ‘Brutus’ compound nippers – both practical and desirable. Enthused, we then set to work.

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Cartoons for the Vogeltreppe Mosaic by Isidora Paz Lopez. Photo by Isidora Paz Lopez.

Large sections of the design were set out on table tops, covered with plastic sheeting and mesh. The core team, who had been working and preparing for two weeks in advance of our arrival, were on hand to guide us with the colour scheme and instructions for each panel. Amazingly, she explained to us, Isidora carries the whole design in her head and draws out the cartoons at full scale by hand. That surprised many of us but we understood her logic for being able to see the final size of the smallest details to ascertain at the outset that they cut be achieved in the mosaic medium.

Tracey Cartledge at work. Photo by Katy Galbraith

The meticulous approach to realising this beautiful design will contribute decidedly to its finished elegance. Isidora stressed that we should take our time to make each part of the mosaic accurately and neatly in preference to completing areas quickly. She supervised our work with a keen eye and a collaborative spirit, ready to allow artistic freedom but intent on ensuring that her overall vision was achieved and, to this ends, made quality control interventions as required.

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Artist Isidora Paz Lopez, making an important assessment about the mosaic work. Photo by Cinzia Venturini

Isidora was constantly re-assessing all aspects of the work: colour combinations, the direction of the light, the shape and style of cuts within every element in the composition. Somehow, she seemed to keep her attention simultaneously on the tiniest of details and the ‘bigger picture’. Isidora is an exceptionally skilled project manager as well as being an accomplished mosaicist.

Detail of flowers. Photo by Katy Galbraith

During the next few days locals responded to fast spreading news about the project that encouraged them to pop in to visit. Happy with the warm, friendly welcome that they received, quite a few were inspired to stay and work alongside us. On the Wednesday, Team Alpha was booked for a complimentary two-hour session to explore the Dynamikum’s science museum and on the Thursday, we had a day trip to a Villeroy & Boch showroom and on to their museum and factory outlet. Work continued the next day and then in the evening we were special guests at the private view of a new exhibition of work by Salvador Dali at the Arts & Culture Centre. The Mayor and town officials of Pirmasens were overjoyed to receive an international delegation of artists. We were treated as VIPs and they held a champagne reception for us, showering us with gifts and keepsakes to show their appreciation.

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Lisa Kline (USA) and Gordana Hajdin (Serbia) delighted wih some of the gifts received.

Shannon McEvoy and Sivan Ravid, Team Alpha. Photo by Tracey Cartledge

Fifty-two artists from twenty-one countries will have contributed to the Vogeltreppe Mosaic by the time that work is complete. In the workroom, you could mostly hear conversations in French, Spanish, German, English and Hebrew and yet none of these languages were the mother tongue of some of the artists amongst us. Gordana had travelled from Serbia to join the project – the first time she had ventured out of her country for twenty years. As an art teacher and a caring member of her own neighbourhood in Belgrade, she has discovered the positive power of mosaic to bring together and heal communities that have faced difficult social challenges, with its mindful and therapeutic capabilities. This was echoed in the projects that Dalia Grossman presented to us, where she had brought Arabic and Jewish communities together, uniting them in their shared efforts to create public art mosaics and attempt to create a sense of harmony in Israel. Both participants had also overcome personal obstacles to get themselves to Pirmasens for the project in terms of health and opportunity.

Detail, ferns. Photo by Tracey Cartledge

On the first day Isidora made a pertinent comment about the value of the project. She said that it would be much more about the interactions we would have connecting with each other than it was about the work produced. She was spot on. We all left the previously unknown town of Pirmasens enriched and re-energised not so much by what we did but by the depth of friendship, laughter and love that we shared and enjoyed throughout the week. This was the true value of taking part in the Vogeltreppe Project.

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Tracey with new friends from Israel and flags (in background) of all nations represented by contributing international mosaic artists. Photo by Cinzia Venturini

 

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Jesse Rust repair at Churchgate House


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A close-up of part of the floor outside the Mayoral office in Churchgate House. Jesse Rust glass mosaic – it was popular stuff in it’s heyday. Jesse Rust worked with Alfred Waterhouse and you can see his firm’s work in Manchester Town Hall as well as in the corridors of the old part of Manchester Royal Infirmary. These floors underwent a major overhaul and full restoration a few years ago by fellow mosaic restorer Gary Bricknell and the team from the Mosaic Restoration Company. Gary gave me some useful advice when I was researching for this repair work.

As it was only a short length and, for the most part, a single row of tesserae that was missing from the floor, it was not going to be viable to have glass specially made to match the original material. This is how I improvised…

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Bisazza glass mosaic, carefully chosen for the colour and quality, shaped and abraded to best fit in with Jesse Rust’s beautiful colour palette, as seen in the opposite side of the floor in question, below. His mission had been to create a beautiful but affordable flooring material as an alternative to marble.

“I take old glass of any description and fuse it with a large quantity of sand together with the colouring matter. I thereby get a material resembling marble, but which is much harder and will resist moisture. Any colour and shape can be made in a fused state. I then press it into moulds, in the shape required either for geometric designs, or in squares to be broken up for mosaic.”

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Following meticulous removal of first the repair epoxy that had been used to temporarily fill the gap in the mosaic floor, then the damaged mortar bed and lastly the broken screed beneath, I repaired the floor beneath the glass tiles in three stages. Finally, here are the pieces lined up ready to fit…

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Fixed, grouted…

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All done!

Chorlton Central Church Community Mosaic


In spring 2016 the committee of Chorlton Central Church, where I run my weekly mosaic evening class, commissioned me to design a large exterior mosaic to cover the old church hall entrance.

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The New Glass facade with artwork by Steve Raw, photo credit Andrew Stuart, MEN

The church had undergone extensive refurbishment works completed in 2015. These  included the construction of a large new glass facade incorporating entrance doors within the south elevation. Architect Mick Timpson, who also runs yoga classes in the church, was responsible for the refurbishment and artist Steve Raw was commissioned to create the design for the glass treatment. The old entrance doorway – you can see on the left in this photo – became redundant and was blocked up to make a storage room.

The first stage of the commission was to consult with the church committee to agree the theme for the mosaic. They wanted the design to reflect the values of the church whilst having universal appeal and represent the church being part of Manchester’s multi faith network. Due to its position, we all agreed that we also wanted it to relate to the garden and convey a sense of welcome – ‘the door is open’. Referencing the bible’s creation story,  tree of life (Genesis) and the water of life (Revelation) provided ample imagery. Following a presentation to the church congregation and ensuing feedback, modifications were made to create a final version of the design.

From the end of June and throughout July, I hosted seven workshops which allowed approximately 100 local participants to take part in the making of the mosaic. With fabulous assistants from Chorlton Mosaic Group on hand to help, each workshop started with a lesson on how to use the tools to cut and arrange the mosaic pieces. Using patterns cut from our full size cartoon, participants patiently started to make component parts of the design, just like a paint-by-numbers technique. Every piece was referenced and carefully stored.

In September I packed up all the mosaic contributions and took them to my studio. With two brilliant studio assistants, Karen Nolan and Karen Allerton, working with me, the parts were assembled, completed and all background areas made up within three weeks.

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The completed mosaic in the studio, faced with tile tape, ready for installation.

Prior to installation I was lucky enough to meet master mosaic fixer, Walter Bernadine in London after he made a presentation at the BAMM Annual Forum. We had a good chat and with Walter’s tips in mind, I subcontracted Manchester dream team Andy Carroll & Son to install the mosaic with me. Thanks to their expertise, the installation was like poetry in motion…

On Sunday 16th October , which was also the Reverend Bob Day’s retirement celebration, the mosaic was officially unveiled by local MP Jeff Smith. The event was well attended by many of those who played a role in its realisation and after the formalities we all enjoyed a lunch in the church hall, generously provided by the Central Church committee.

The Chorlton Mosaic Group continues to meet every Thursday at 7.15pm and welcomes new members at any time. For more details, check the website or get in touch with me by email at this address: tracey.cartledge@icloud.com.

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Tracey with the completed mosaic. Photo by Vincent Abbey.

A First Class Job


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)

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a few gaps to fill

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.

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golden era

in need of some TLC

in need of some TLC

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’.

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A key influence? Mosaic by Angelo Orsoni, Venetia.

MakeMosaic Birthday or Hen Parties


People did ask me years ago, it’s true. For one reason or another, I didn’t do it then. However, when recently asked if I could run a mosaic birthday party quite close to home in Didsbury, I agreed…

Mosaic Birthday Party

Mosaic Birthday Party

Birthday Party Mosaics

Birthday Party Mosaics

…and I was quite delighted with the results. I’m happy to report that the birthday girl, her friends and family were all thrilled too. Hopefully these pictures will say more about it than my words can!

If you like the idea and fancy arranging a mosaic party for your special occasion, please get in touch. For the basic information on price and what’s involved, check out my website: http://www.traceycartledge.co.uk/products/210

 

 

Come out for a Night on the Tiles


A Night on the Tiles is an exhibition being hosted by the British Association for Modern Mosaic (BAMM North West) from 2nd – 20th November with a special opening night on Friday 1st November from 6pm.

Living Layers (triptych) by Julie Vernon

Living Layers (triptych) by Julie Vernon

The exhibition will take place in the basement gallery at 2022NQ on Dale Street, in Manchester’s Northern Quarter and will showcase mosaic works from a number of the region’s most successful working artists as well as up-coming new talent.

Sweeties Please by Deborah Pitman

Sweeties Please by Deborah Pitman

A Night on the Tiles is timely, underpinning a current debate surrounding the status and recognition of mosaic within the art world. These North West artists, working in quite different ways, share a passion for the application of materials that put their work into the bracket ‘mosaic’. Subterfuge and controversy about whether its place lies within ‘art’ or ‘craft’ has frequently prevented the output of modern mosaic makers from being seen by contemporary audiences. The exhibition at 2022NQ aims to dismiss the smoke screen and focus instead on the work itself.

We look forward to welcoming you to our exhibition!!

Chorlton Mosaic Group and BAMM North West are exhibiting work at the Victoria Baths ‘Water Palace’ in Manchester


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PRIVATE VIEW: Thursday 28th June 5pm-8pm

 DROP-IN MOSAIC WORKSHOP Sunday 1st July 1pm-4pm

EXHIBITION RUNS UNTIL 31st July 2012

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Victoria Baths, a set on Flickr.

The glorious Victoria Baths Water Palace in Chorlton-on-Medlock in Manchester.