In 2009 I was taken out of my comfort zone when making a mosaic for the Heavens above exhibition at the Opus Gallery in Exeter. I am used to working with warm bright colours and golds, but I decided to make a night sky mosaic using a lot of black.
The swan wasn’t so bad – I chose an iridescent black glass tile that was quite mesmerizing as blue and silver notes played off the surface. I used silver leaf glass mosaic tile for the stars and they added to the feeling of heavenliness.
But then came the background sky. As I cut the matt black ceramic squares into lengths and laid them in loose rhythmic lines, I began on a journey , a cheerless journey, one I had get into to get out of.
As I built up the walls of darkness around my field of vision, I became engulfed in a claustrophobic chasm. Without light it seemed there was no space, I felt breathless, cutting the tile faster and faster, in a desperate bid to finish the piece and feel less of this uncomfortable place. Occasionally there was a little breath from this relentless condition, when I looked at the mosaic as a whole and saw the swan flying down in sparks of little lights. But when I returned to laying the black matt, I was back in the dark again. My heart racing now, I stayed up late to finish, hunger forgotten, thirst no need to quench. I was beating my wings against the blackness, trying to fly through the a sky as if it were made of syrup.
At last, finished, I could breathe again, I gulped down the air like water after a long flight.
I have just finished a piece called “Forest Light”. It is for the “Year of the Forest” exhibition at the Opus Gallery, Exeter which will be held from 2 May -30 July 2011
Although I started with the same black matt ceramic in the trees that I used in the sky of Cygnus, I made the mosaic a lot faster which gave me less time to feel that strange claustrophobia, although I think if there were more trees I would have started down the slippery slope! I also knew I would be making a light sky of silver and gold, so I had something to look forward to and it would counteract the heavy presence of the trees. When I use gold leaf I feel elated and light. I use several different tones of gold, ranging from a silver gold which is more silver than gold but has a warmth to it to a deep rich copper gold. Throughout the range I use a bright gold that is more reflective than the others and a yellow brassy gold. I find that I feel different with each tone. The silver golds appear to let in more light, they are cool and fresh like pale spring morning skies, and I feel as if I am flying in the clear fresh air. As the tones become more orange I become warmer, immersed in a golden light, flying becomes very comfortable, too comfortable, so I run the risk of falling into a deep slumber …..
Just as well I finished in time!