Background image of Mosaic Tiles

Inspiration

I am inspired by ancient jewellery, reliquaries, frescoes, tiled surfaces and painted icons. These items fascinated me as a child and have influenced the majority of my work. The rich precious surfaces are extraordinary. I love the idea of buried treasure. A lot of my Art work draws on artefacts from the Byzantine era . Although most of my work uses bold colour I also appreciate the faded beauty of wall paintings and tapestries and this influence is starting to filter into new designs.

Many of the artefacts I am inspired by are broken or incomplete and that interests me. I leave gaps and spaces in my framed assemblages deliberately to provoke questions. What was there? Where is it? Who has it? How was it lost or broken? My intention is to engage and start a train of thought.

Everyday objects like coins, leaves, fabric, distressed buildings, footprints and tyre tracks also grab my attention. Sometimes there are direct visual references reflected in my work other times it gives me the need to go and make.

 

Technique

The handmade tiles are made from polymer clay which is a man-made modelling material. I use polymer because like earth clay it can be textured and impressed with pattern so easily. Also it can be decorated and embellished with pigments, acrylic paint and jewels. It fires at low temperatures and does not require a ceramic kiln. The surface applications are numerous and it allows me to be experimental. I love rich bold acrylic colour and metallic pigments really add the lustre of precious metals. The jewels are synthetic but have the clarity and sparkle of precious stones without the expense. I embed the jewels and rows of glass beads into the polymer there is no need to glue them, the polymer shrinks when fired and holds them tight.

I love the immediacy of using rubber stamps, found objects and handmade moulds to produce pattern and texture. It is a technique that has been used by craftsmen to decorate metal and ceramics for hundreds of years. There is a playful element to this technique that actually creates a sophisticated form of embellishment. I do have signature patterns and shapes like the spiral, that often appear somewhere in a finished piece.

When the tiles have been textured, coloured and embellished with jewels I fire them. I make them in batches until I have enough for either a mirror or assemblage. The construction is then driven by size of the tiles and their placement in relation to one another and colour combinations. There is usually an accent colour of gold, silver, copper or bronze that ties the piece together. Finally I coat every tile with an air drying satin glaze for protection and to give a semi-gloss to the surface.