Community Mosaic Projects
By following the links below, you can see a selection of some of Jan's favourites.
Merkinch Community Mosaics 2015
I was delighted when, in the spring of 2015, Elsie Normington invited me to visit Merkinch Community Centre to help the community make mosaic panels for the Skinner Room. I had run a project at the centre in 2011 and the experience had been joyous, so I jumped at this opportunity to return.
Courtyard Mosaics at Drumnadrochit
In February 2014 I visited Craigmonie, the community learning centre in Drumnadrochit, on the shores of Loch Ness. The building that houses both the school and the community facilities is beautiful and bright, with an internal courtyard, complete with benches, so that members of the community can take a break in the sun. The only problem was that the courtyard walls were bare and so there was little there for the eye to enjoy other than the contents of a few plant troughs.
Girvan Community Gardens
In both 2012 and 2013, I visited Girvan Community Garden, in South Ayrshire, to teach the volunteers some of the principles of mosaic-making for the garden. On my first visit I was impressed by this carefully-nurtured garden, hidden behind the main shopping street, with the sea to be found just over the garden wall. It was obvious that the folk here not only had green fingers but also strong recycling credentials, with growing pots made out of the most unlikely discarded containers. It even had a delightfully clean composting toilet. And when I met the crowd of volunteers who wanted to make mosaic, I knew immediately that their enthusiasm would take them far. Over the two days they made a huge number of varied mosaics (see some in the slide show below) and the event had a real party atmosphere.
Strathpeffer Primary School, Highlands.
I had a really enjoyable time at Strathpeffer Primary School in May, helping them to make mosaic stepping stones for a new community garden, sited at the back of the school. Primary 6 parent Jean MacNair organised the event and invited the Ladies' Lunch Club, which meets in the community wing of the school, to join Primary 6 in this fun activity.
They made a wide variety of designs using shells, pebbles, marbles and the like, which they laid upside down into sand. Then everyone enjoyed getting very messy mixing cement by hand, in washing up bowls, then back-filling the moulds.
A few days later, I returned to the school, where everyone who had taken part was eagerly gathered to turn over the moulds and see the designs the right way up! And they looked wonderful!
Hillhead Primary School, Kirkintilloch.
Hillhead Primary School, Kirkintilloch, along with volunteer parents, have been working hard to make a nature garden, both for teaching outdoors and for everyone to sit in and relax.
I only had two days at the school, but we certainly made best use of the time! The older pupils took turns to work on a large, cheerful mosaic sign for the gardens and the younger children made mosaic flowers and beasties onto mesh, so that they could be tranferred to the garden by the adults.
The afternoon of the second day was lovely and sunny and some of the auxilliary staff volunteered to help me attach the wee designs onto various rocks around the garden so that they could be 'found' by the children as they wanndered around.
Park Primary School, Invergordon.
Over the past few yars, the Parents Association of Park Primary School, Invergordon, have been creating a Quiet Garden for the pupils in the corner of the play area. It already had features such as magical wooden furniture and large flower tubs and trees, some of which were created in memory of two children who have died and who had attended the school.
However, the parents felt that the garden lacked a focal point and contacted me to create a mosaiced column for the centre of the garden, which would have a sundial placed on top.
Most of the design was made at my studio, on to mesh, and tranferred to the structure on site. On the day, the weather was atrocious, but the sun came out for a couple of hours, conveniently when the school's Eco-group arrived to help decorate the top with butterflies, bees and the name of the school.
Mount Pleasant Primary School, Thurso.
Mount Pleasant Primary School already has a wonderfully interesting and colourful nature garden, so when I made my initial visit to the school, staff and pupils agreed that if they were going to make mosaic panels for outdoors, then it would be an excellent idea to place them at the entrance to the school so that everyone, pupils, staff, parents and visitors would all benefit from their cheerful presence every single day.
Along with the pupils, I settled on the theme of the four seasons and the pupils got busy drawing up some designs. The general quality was so high, however, that I couldn't just choose one design per season; I ended up incorporating elements of many pupils' designs into each of the panels, making them full of life!
GOW Back Court, Kelvinside, Glasgow
A group of neighbours in a triangle of tenements in Glasgow's West End decided to improve the back court, an area of land onto which all their back windows faced. As part of the improvements, it was decided to make a simple mosaic in the paving which could be seen from the windows high above and which would sparkle and come to life in rain and winter weather. In addition, a slate sign was made for the back doors to each close, giving the green a village feel.
Kinlochbervie Primary Playground
At the end of the summer term, the pupils worked hard on producing bright and bold designs suitable for large-scale mosaic work. They decided on an animal theme, which would not only be cheerful and fun, but would reflect the pupil's recent work as part of the Ecoschools prgramme: a recognition that all creatures on earth should be valued and protected. I then set to work sourcing some interesting frost-proof materials for the making of the mosaic - everything from cracked mugs and empty wine bottles to marbles and cast off junk jewellery! The week before the making of the mosaic, I transferred the pupils' designs onto suitable boards and cut them to size and shape. I also edged the boards in glass tiles, both to give the work finish and to make it more weather-resistant.
Livingston Breathing Space
I was asked along to Knightsridge Church and Community Centre to help "cheer up" a blank wall in a small garden at the back of the building. The community had already made enormous improvements to their "Breathing Space" by way of flower beds and murals, so I knew they would rise to the challenge of making mosaic trees, hardy enough to withstand winter frosts and bright and sparkling enough to cheer up any grey days when the flowers were not in bloom.
A wide range of people volunteered to help over the two days, including a group of crafty young mothers, enthusiastic and 'mature' local residents and even the Methodist minister, who discovered she had a hidden talent for cutting glass! From old roof slates, bits of mirror and even wine bottles, we designed and made two outstanding, upstanding trees. Everyone was justly proud!
Merkinch Rainbow Tree
It had been a while since the community of Merkinch had come together to make a work of art and there were a couple of spaces on the walls of the community centre just asking to be brought to life. So, one Monday morning in September 2011, I set up a mobile mosaic workshop on the concourse of this bustling and happy building and waited to see if anyone wanted to join in the making.
I was not disappointed. People of all ages flocked around to see what I was up to. I had cut out a giant tree shape, crowned with a rainbow. Across the rainbow were the words Merkinch - 'The Place to Be'. And so it seemed, because by the end of the first day I had so many mosaic volunteers (many from the Singing for Pleasure group) that we had completed the lettering and filled in the branches and some of the leaves. That evening, the Youth club started work on the rainbow and completed much of the tree trunk. It was all going well.