In April 2022 I was commissioned to make a mural mosaic for a customer. John had recently lost his wife Jane to covid after her 6 year battle with Motor Neurone Disease. He contacted me to make a mosaic to celebrate her life.
Unbeknown to John before she died, Jane had already become one of my customers having bought several of my mosaic bird wall sculptures and she had sent me a message telling me she had MND and used to make mosaics herself. So for John and myself it seemed a true act of serendipity, perhaps a sign to suggest I was the right artist for the job!
On my first visit to the house it was clear to me that Jane, whose career as an influential editor and book publisher, was also a very talented mosaic artist and confident designer, each room in their grand country house being awash with life and colour. Peacocks took up residence on wallpaper, plump velvet cushions in sumptuous purples and greens were comfortably scattered on big soft sofas, collections of beautiful coloured glass vessels bought on trips to Venice shimmered in windowsills reflecting warm and cool coloured light into the rooms. And Jane’s fabulous mosaic designs were artfully arranged on the walls.
During the time I was selling birds to Jane, she sent me a message to say she had an idea about how to display them and would send a picture, unfortunately I never received one, but now I could see for myself what she had done. She had hung them adjacent to a wall papered in a bird design making it look as if the birds had escaped.
John had a few ideas for a design, one of which was a sunrise from the house, with a beautiful view of the meadow and one which Jane had enjoyed so often. From photos he sent me I worked up some designs, and we finally settled on a circular mosaic.
I drew a life size cartoon on my studio wall.
The mosaic was to be made using smalti and I was delighted to receive a large package of beautiful Venetian coloured gold leaf mosaic from Jane’s mosaic tile collection to include in the mosaic.
I also bought some Italian piastrina and plate smalti to add to the colours and texture.
To create texture in the mosaic I made it direct. Some of which I made straight onto light weight cement boards (the more detailed bits) and some onto mesh.
Finally after 9 months of hard labour, installation day came.
John’s builders were on hand to screw the boards to the wall and my friend Rachel not only acted as driver for me but also helped me install the mesh to the boards.
15 hours later…
John and his family were very pleased with the result and John told me that “Jane, who was known for her love of colour would have been very pleased, excited and very chuffed!”
Mosaic made in memory of Jane Morpeth, well respected and talented editor and publisher. Amongst the many books Jane published were the Sister Fidelma books for Headline in 1993, Watchers by Dean Koontz, and Small Island by Andrea Levy which was also adapted for television , and books by as authors Martina Cole, Neil Gaiman, Adele Parkes and Victoria Hislop.
Jane and her husband John married in 1988 and had two children. John told me “Despite Jane’s battle with Motor Neurone disease which robbed her of her mobility and speech she could see, hear and think to the end of her life. She could no longer speed read but she could compose and send emails using just her eyes and some clever technology. With a team of dedicated carers she maintained a genuine quality of life while resigned to the journey of terminal illness. She certainly found peace and joy in life”.
It also warmed my heart to know that she shared her knowledge and joy of mosaics … John said “although she could no longer make mosaics, she trained her carers in mosaic ad would oversee and encourage them and shared their pleasure in the creative output”.
If you enjoyed reading my post why not consider a donation to the Motor Neurone Disease Charity here