Category Archives: Retro

Midnight Garden – a community mosaic project with children

As I’ve mentioned previously I was contacted a little while ago by a public primary school here in Canberra to  lead a mosaic project with their students. What came out of the brief discussions we had was to create a feature mural and some extra mosaics that will float around the courtyard. The theme of which is a macro garden.

I went away and created a design that fit to the brief, but that was also going to be simple enough for a whole school to participate in. In my opinion, too much detail can be overwhelming. I also like stylised designs, as I suppose one can tell from my work. I suggested some colour themes and created colour packs for them to refer to, but emphasised that these were suggestions only. I think ownership comes from choice in process and it was important to me not to take that away. I worked in small groups with kids once a week and the teacher leading the project worked with kids throughout the rest of the week. All the kids cottoned onto the hows and whys pretty easily and then took the information and passed it on to their peers who had not yet participated. As we fabricated, the kids made changes to some of the colour selections. 🙂 The kids have been so great! Most of the panels have been fabricated already. There was always a lot of interesting conversation, a lot of problem solving (not only of the mosaic, but also of social matters in their lives). It was a lot of fun to listen to them all talk. Of course, the part they loved the most was smashing tiles!

It makes my day to hear things like:

“When I grow up, I want to be an artist” and  “This is so fun, I wish we could do it all day”, amongst many other uber cool other statements.

Yesterday I started on the installation. One of the teachers walked past while I was working and she said to me “you are such an inspiration to these kids.” I wasn’t too sure what she meant by this and after chatting with her she remarked on me being a woman doing what I am doing and how it is inspiring for kids, both male and female, to see me creating large scale mosaics: teaching, fabricating, installing etc… I never thought of it like this. Ever! Wow. It was a pretty empowering moment and one that makes me feel like I am on the right path for me. I am exactly where I should be.

Anyway, a year 6 teacher was keen for her kids to be involved. They’ll be assisting me in the rest of the installation as well as grouting the project which will basically happen next week and the week after which puts us in line to completion for the end of term.

I also had a number of students discuss with me the name of the mural. They came up with Midnight Flowers, which I thought was way cool. We settled on Midnight Garden, after some discussion, to include the whole scope of the project.

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Big THANKYOUS to all those involved: students, parents of the community and teachers, in particular Hazel who is leading the project from the school perspective and the Principal, Lindsay whose understanding of the value of art for children is invaluable.

I’ll post final pics when we get there 🙂



Filed under Architectural Installations, Art, Artists, Asian, Australia, Canberra, Community Projects, Female, Flowers, Garden Mosaics, Kids, Kids' Projects, Kim Grant, Mosaic, Murals, My projects, Nature, Ornamental, Public Art, Retro, Round the World, Schools, Uncategorized, Works in Progress

Celestial Horizon – a mosaic floor installation

I’ve just returned from a fantastic trip to Melbourne, visiting my sis and her new baby. A little while ago, my plan was to make a mosaic for her on a deck that her hubby built. Time passed and I never got around to doing it… As it was the first trip down there in 2 years for me, I decided what the heck, might aswell just do it! Now or never… So I grabbed some mesh, some tools and some tile the night before and had a great holiday, just me and the kids 🙂

I managed to get the entire installation done in about 3 days… if you add up all the hours spent. The mosaic feature itself took 5 days, working on it at nights and then the installation took another day, then one more grouting. So all in all I was a Mo-machine! I deviated slightly from my more usual anal self – smashed the tile as opposed to cutting it, though some of it was cut. We went to the hardware store for some extra colours and anything else I didn’t bring and I set about getting it done.

I was very pleased with it, given the time pressure. Stayed on for one more day just to get the grouting done because we had a lazy day on Monday… took the kids to watch a movie, I went shopping at IKEA – again, lol!

Anyway, the idea to make a feature surrounded with tile that they already had, was made some time ago. I liked the idea of a circle. We decided on the extra swirl off of the main circle at the time. I wanted it to have a bit of a retro feel too. I don’t know if I necessarily achieved it, but am certainly happy with the outcome nonetheless. This has been another project where it just took on a life of its own. I really like working like this and actually work better… It always ends up much more interesting. My sis is also an incredible artist, so I was trying to prod her out of breastfeeding stares and get her to give me some of her ideas too, something that she’d like to see every morning… 😉 We mothers all know how much mothering is artistically draining…

The deck itself was made from cement sheeting with a waterproofing membrane rolled on. All I had to do was clean it. The pre-existing tile was charcoal and I think were some kind of roofing tile. 8mm thick, so quite thick and some kind of textured, unglazed ceramic. I think I am swearing off that stuff. I hate grouting it and every time I have used it, I’m always swearing at it! Vinegar to the rescue once again… The grout haze on that stuff is awful!

Anyway, because the tile was so thick I had to lay a fairly thick adhesive bed down for the mosaic feature. Also had to pop off all the glass gems so they wouldn’t get lost once grouted and so that you couldn’t see the mesh underneath. Not very attractive! This project is my first mesh project and actually my first intentional at least mosaic floor installation. The mesh is a great way to work! Will do lots more with it in the future. Goodness knows I have a whole heap because I bought a whole roll of it last year. The stuff is soooo much more expensive in Australia. Yes, I’m whingeing about the large cost differences between the exact same materials that are available in places like the US. Since everyone kept telling me when the Aussie dollar was not so crash hot that it was due to the currency conversion, now that the US dollar has taken a serious nosedive (thankyou Mr Bush) I wonder why it is that everything here still remains to be inexhaustibly dear!? I believe it’s due to 3 party mongering… Anyway, I found a supplier in Sydney who gave me a good deal and she’s lovely to boot!!!

Back to the mosaic… So yes, stayed down there for just under 2 weeks and manged to get the mosaic completely finished by the 9th day. I think I’ve worked on picture frames that took me longer than that!!! lol…

As for the name for some reason “H” kept throwing itself at me. Horizon it was since there are many definitions of the word that I liked, in particular “the limit of a person’s mental perception“.

If you’re interested in seeing more WIP pics, then please check out my Flickr site.

Day 1
In the beginning, I just drew a very vague pic. You can see that by the end of it, it changed a fair bit.

Day 2

Adding the main swirl vine because I am such a Swirl Ho after all 🙂Day 5
Ready for installation!

Tiles for the background
Dirty tile for the background. This was a redback spider farm!!!


Celestial Horizon Done #1
And after!!!! Yay 🙂 I’m happy because my Sis and her Hubby are happy with it. It’s always nice to give that to someone else. They’ve still got a lot of work to do on their home, and they’ve already done sooooo much – seriously it’s unbelievable. They’re also doing it all themselves and live on a really steep incline. So my hat goes off to them both for getting it all done while also having a family. It’s no easy quest.

Celestial Horizon

The entire deck measures 1.85m x 3.65m or 6′ x 12′.


Filed under Architectural Installations, Art, Artists, Australia, Building, Design Concepts, Finished pieces, Flickr, Floor, Flowers, Garden Mosaics, Kim Grant, Melbourne, Mosaic, Mosaic Materials, My projects, Ornamental, Retro, Round the World, Travel, Uncategorized, Works in Progress