Site specific art – the clue is right there in the name isn't it. The secret to getting a successful mosaic artwork is in the skill to make it specific, whether that is specific to you, specific to the site, specific to the heritage or specific to the surrounding community.
Here I show a typical example of a real project and how the design developed from the initial research to the final mosaic.
The Bishops Walk Mosaic
This Circular floor mosaic was commissioned by Redbridge Council in England for a junction of pathways in a local park. The main pathway was called Bishops Walk and came from when the park was part of the gardens of the Mansion House built for the wife of the Archbishop of Canterbury in 1696. The brief for the mosaic was to both create something of interest, a focal point for this area of the park, and to convey something more of the parks heritage.
The first steps - research
As with all projects of this nature my work began with researching the park and it’s heritage. As well as the origins of the Mansion House further research and consultation revealed that the Mansion House and garden were for many years the family home of Sir Charles Raymond a central figure in the East India Company. Another interesting story was that ‘The Great Vine’ of Hampton Court Palace (the oldest productive grapevine in the world, planted in 1768), was taken from a cutting from a Black Hamburg Vine at Valentines Mansion.
Initial design sketches
Once the research was complete the design work began.
After some rough concept sketches three design options were produced to show a variety of approaches. The design options used elements of the association with the East India Company and the Archbishop of Canterbury with the third option including a compass point.
The final design
The client liked preferred the second design overall but requested that the element of the compass be included in the final design and that the Bishop reference be enlarged.
So the final design was created to incorporate and develop the client comments. The East Indiaman ship was refined and the Great Vine motif extended. A compass perimeter was added and the Bishops mitre given more equal weight to the ship. This design was then approved by the client.
With the design approved the mosaic was then constructed from tough unglazed French Porcelain in the studio.
Once completed the mosaic was transported to the site and installed in the park.