Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Mexican Diary Introduction: Barbados Mosaic

You can see pictures of my mosaics on my website: www.martincheekmosaics.com
The Barbados work is shown on page:
www.martincheekmosaics.com/html/barbados_floor.html

Mexican Diary Introduction: Barbados Mosaic

My brief was to design a mosaic floor that would capture life on the Caribbean island of Barbados. I was given a list of all things Bajun, which included Dominoes, cocktails, Breadfruit trees.
My initial design went down well – it showed a Bajun couple dancing to a calypso rhythm, being played out by a third figure on the steel drums. The floor was circular so that their three poses – their ‘lines of action’ carried through to form a circular ‘andamento’ or flow.
My clients felt that the mosaic design was a good start but lacked authenticity. It was therefore decided that I should visit Barbados for a week or so to get a proper feel for the place. A tough call, I know, but someone had got to do it. My first reaction was that this was a bit over the top, but when I actually came face to face with the breadfruit, banana, palm and papaya leaves, I began to realise what my client had meant.
The actual mosaic was made in Mexico. This is the first time that I haven’t made everything myself in England, but the sheer size of the floor meant that it was simply not possible for me to work fast enough to finish it on time. If I worked a five day, forty hour week, then that is the equivalent of twenty Mexicans working each day. The mosaic factory was very efficient and ship shape, they really knew their business, having produced many mosaics over the years for swimming pools, hotel lobbies and airports.
The mosaic was made in many small parts – like pieces of a huge jigsaw puzzle. The design is firstly drawn onto strong brown craft paper and then cut up into the ‘jigsaw’ not in even squares but in haphazard zigzags that that the joins don’t show so obviously on the finished floor. Next time you visit a Roman villa, take a close look at the mosaic floor and see if you can spot the joins – the subtlety (or not!) of these connecting lines is considered one of the qualities of mosaic work.
Each piece of mosaic was then boxed up and shipped to Barbados to be laid down in situ. The mosaic is made ‘indirect’ in other words it is upside down and back to front, the paper side being the final surface. Thus the finished mosaic is perfectly flat.

You can see pictures of my mosaics on my website: www.martincheekmosaics.com
The Barbados work is shown on page:
www.martincheekmosaics.com/html/barbados_floor.html

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