... more about the mosaics
Girl with a pearl thong  

(back view)



Development of the Mosaic Work

I first came to work in mosaic when decorating the shoes, using crushed glass and broken fragments of mirror. Avril Silk, a stained glass artist, gave me a huge selection of left over bits from her work in a wide range of colours to use on the shoes. I made shoes for the Snow Queen and Cinderella and more vampy shoes often in red. The shoe for the queen of Sheba was made with a delicate interwoven pattern of orange and blue glass.

The first mosaic piece was the Tree of Life in a wooden box which became an intimate space for the free flowing forms intuitively developed from my interest in images of the Tree of Life. I used broken wine bottles and smashed domestic crockery. The glass bottles when smashed at random, create lovely unexpected fluid shapes that suggested the design motif. Fruits were added and mirror fragments reflect the light. I tried to show two pools of water on either side with a broken drama occurring. Again the decoration on the china will suggest the way that the story develops. I discovered then that while selecting the china in charity shops and jumble sales, that I was drawn to the domestic, small faded femine patterns and realised that this demonstrated a relationship to the small fragments that I had been using on the dresses, as in the Memory Dress (see link below). It also probably referred back to my childhood in the 1950's, some sort of longing for that safe domesticity.

The shrine/waymarker in the Goyle was my first public art commission which I started making in May 2004. Having located a space under a loop in a tree, one of my favourite places on this part of the farm, it was almost cathedral shaped I felt, as I cleared the space with a shape trowel. There was moss and evidence of squirrels's stores. I made a chicken wire template of the opening that I then used as a pattern for a willow and hazel structure to line the shape and to use as a base for the mosaic .
I bought lime mortar from Limebase Products Ltd, Joe Leach. It had horsehair in it to strengthen the mix. UP4 was added to the pre-mixed lime and mortar and smeared onto damp willow and allowed to cure slowly. I did two coats and then started the mosaic. This developed intuitively, the interior shape was woovy as I had to include a tree root on the floor so the design developed as an abstract one using mostly coloured glass from wine bottles, 3 blue, 3 brown and 3 green and a dodgy bit of red. I used white exterior grade adhesive to make the best of the colours, and grouted it with the same, in a sky blue to reflect the sunlight.

It was very difficult perched on the edge of a pond but I watched the animals and a wonderful kingfisher and surprised a few walkers.

Girl With a Pearl Thong (shown above)

Girl With a Pearl Thong started with the shell for nipples and crotch and went from there. The hair relates to the Botticelli Venus with references to Bo Derek in the film '10' via the shells in the hair. The pearls in her bottom refers to Samantha in 'Sex and the City', who used a pearl thong as a sex aid,: then I realised that I was making this piece during the time the film 'Girl with a Pearl Earring' was showing, by a book from Tracy Chevalier, and decided on this rather apt title! I am now working on other female exotic, rather kitsch forms.

I so enjoyed searching out random pieces of china and glass, breaking them and then reassembling the bits to form a new order, allowing the pattern and movement of the coloured shards to combine with the base structure to create a new story. I add pieces of obscure ornaments, fairies, mermaids, chipped roses and shells, keys and organ stops. Anything that has got a history, a resonance to create an atmosphere. I use what may be considered life's leftovers and it gives me an opportunity to carry on my history in a visual form.

Other artists who have influenced me are Candace Bahouth and Kaffe Fassett, with their interest in the various grottoes and mosaics found around the world. Nike de Saint Phalle is a magician. I have read about the work of Lynn Mattson using 'memory ware', a popular form of American folk art from around the 1900s and also Diana Maria Rossi, whose work conveys a strong social message around the themes such as the dislocation of immigrants and the pain of homelessness. Andrew Logan in the UK produces wonderfully kitsch mosaics.


Other mosaic pieces.

Bird Woman (front and back view)
links to other pages: dresses /
memory dress / red glass slipper
website by Sara Fairfax sarafairfax@hotmail.co.uk