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By: Rob Turner
I have been commissioned to make a 'Gateway or Threashold' feature. The product will be a map of the town made in mosaic and installed in the High Street of the town. The mosaic is intended to encourage visitors to see the whole town including the historic inland waterway canal junction.
# 13 [20 May 2008]
So: Back from Stourport, installation is complete and it was fun.
It rained quite a bit (not fun, as controlling the water is essential when installing mosaics).
I was inside a little fenced compound like a cage in the high street, but I spoke all day to passers by about; British motorcycles, the church in Driotwich, compulsory purchase orders, British craftmanship, plumbing, the construction of swimming pools, the longest narrow boat in the world (at 72 foot) allegedly, plus holidays in france.
I guess this is the point where it becomes a little more serious and I feel I should say something which enables enquiry, reflection, positioning or strategic thinking of some kind.
Well sorry but I work with intuition, gut feelings, a sence of balance, I am kind of serial in my thinking, but unable to invent systematic thought processes. I associate things freely and dont approach things with methods. I find intangible things motivate me, things I am just unable to see with clarity, only with hunches, reactions and leanings! I like colours and composition, just stuff that I can not reach with words.
My three fav subjects are Nature, History and Sociology. Mix them together and I am somewhere in there.
I will try harder another time, but I will say one thing...I do things carefully and I consider things before I do them!
# 12 [12 May 2008]
Off to France.
Installation of the mosaic starts thurs 15th May.
# 11 [6 May 2008]
Hi there blog.
I wonder what this blogging is really about? I dont find it a natural thing, I never liked writing at school. I always felt I was writing the wrong thing..... and how can you possibly write the wrong thing on a blog. Still, these feelings carry on into middle age in my case!
What I really wanted to mention was that I will be cycling (off road) in France for 3-4 days. Something that I am looking forward to very much. It has nothing to do with art in the slightest, which is a good thing, cos I live in a public art 'expression of interest' bubble. Again what are you supposed to write for an expression of interest, with that fear of writing the wrong thing just hanging around!
So bikes, bikes, bikes it is then.
# 10 [28 April 2008]
A walk in the Woods
So I doubt wether I will say too much till I install this mosaic, I have only got to cut it up and store it till the installation.
Now I have a little time on my hands I made a small path in the front garden. I might make another one tommorrow.
I think I will read Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance....... I find reading for pleasure a difficult thing and miss out on so much. Attention Disorder, lazy, always think that something else is more important, why is this? prehaps the answers lie in the book. Outside stimulas is such a good thing, so why do I find it so hard to leave my little insular world?
The blue bells are out, and I took my dog Cosmo out for a walk it was amazing, like blue water over the forest floor.
He was so happy charging through the woods, mud, smells, squirrels, stagnent water and leaves and grass to roll in. Just dog stuff I will never really understand. He was so happy it made me happy in a sad sort of way?
# 9 [15 April 2008]
So the madness hoverd around the fringe of my mind on this project. It is nearly over now.
I had a conversation today and I found out that the site wont be ready for five weeks or so! I expected to hear five days. True, some time after easter was bandied about, I thought I was well behind the contractor. Thats great news, I will not need to force myself kicking and screaming into the workshop. I have no time preasure. That's when mosaic is really cruel that fight to complete on time.
So I'll have to find something else to say instead.
'The straight line leads to the downfall of our civilization' Hundertwasser. 1953.
# 8 [11 April 2008]
The bun fight is tommorrow at 10.30
I will drive off early start... to Wantage where the commissioners (of my last project) Persimmons Homes and The Vale of the White Horse Dist. Co. are providing drinks and cakes so the residents can use this celebration to meet each other and get to know their neighbours. This is what should happen more often, after all the point of these projects is to strengthen communities and build social capital.
The best one was when an aquantance sent me a photo of celebrations at a project I had done ages before. It turned out to be an asian wedding and they used an urban stone circle I created, which they sang, danced and waved coloured material around and stuff.
Now for me, that makes a successfull project.
Lets hope tommorrow is as fun?
As for this project, its too boring to talk about, but it looks fab. check out the photos.
# 7 [10 April 2008]
So that's it then the nice bits all done and what's left is just mechanical. Brain damage will no dought ensue.
I am very very pleased with it though. Its like looking at one of those architectural models the ones with streets, cars, buildings with windows, trees and stuff. like looking into a micro world. Its the first time I think I've made a mosaic like that, though they are all micro worlds in their own way.
I will post a photo of the really good bits soon but today, I'll post what I have.
My batteries are low and the rest of it will be like a hard climb in the Tour de France; long, hard and painful. But I am strong and riden in these mountains many times before. I will huff and puff may even find a sprint finish at the end. I might have to find a fast finish as Halcrows 'are going to contact me' which really means when will you be ready to install, as we will be off site in a week or two!
I fixed me bike today, brakes needed attention and I've got a free lunch on Thurs next week.
# 6 [8 April 2008]
So where does the Zen come in then?
Well, hours and hours of cracking rocks day in day out is a pretty boring task and the mind is needed only in very limited descision making so a higher mind set is often reached, Nivarna, sacred and spiritual places are where this level takes us. Where is it? I can't remember but I've been there all day, I dont realise the CD's finished thirty five minutes ago, its only when the CD gets stuck that you realise there is life in your body.
Zen like levels dude,
Monks used to copy the bible by hand as there was no printing in those days.
How many times did a scribey type monk write the bible in a life time?
Prehaps it started as a great job, lovely illustrations, calligraphy Lombardic capitals, uncials super work if you can get it. But by the 3rd or 4th copy of the bible the gloss has worn off and the realisation that the next 3 months till the book is finished will be more of this Nivarna, this needs a zen like acceptance to reach the end of the task. Then, when it is finished there is the next one to do. This is also the exact same head space for mosaic making.
# 5 [4 April 2008]
Feeling fine with the mosaic. I will cut off the lower section tommorrow. So I am almost half way through.
The 'madness' has not yet arrived. The work has been interupted by other things and broken up the mind numbing hours of torture. So I am not going to talk about it.
What I really want to do is work with much larger material on a much larger scale. Something I would need to do to achieve this, would be to become part of a design team working with professional designers and architects to integrate a variety of materials into a floor scape for example, a town square. I find acres of mono block paving or flag stones rather sterile. I know they are everywhere but the blank empty hollow feeling they give could be avoided. They are quanityfiable, easy to work with, how many required, units, maths, time schedules, simple labour and materials all easily worked out and deliverd to the client no hass.
Result: flat floor on time within budget. Sounds great: Just that they are at best dull. We expect that and take them as the only way to deal with floors. Anything else does not compute.
I would like to see if this norm for surface treatment is a penatrable, not just floors, buildings more generally and whether BS standard building regs have closed off any kind of life.
Architects, designers, developers, contractors and clients might realise something less monotonous is possible if they broke free from units, prefabrication, time, deliverables and costs. People have to live and work and use these places, they all look the same, 'but the people provide the colour and life'. Just that they have gone mad and lost the plot.
But it was on shedule and budget.
Oh........ Thats OK Then.
Sorry.... for ranting and spouting nonsence I expect it wont be the last time.
# 4 [1 April 2008]
Just finished for today, midnight. Really tried to get as much of the background done as I could. I definately made the right decision not to go darker with the green of the grass. The ground is quite light and the lighter grass helps, makes the buildings show up more. My concern is the ground colour is too close to the white of the road!
But basically I will have to live with that. The roads a very bold, wide and straight and will hold their own as I am relying on them to 'hold it all together'.
See with painting its so easy just mix the colours to the one you need, or if you get it wrong, ...repaint....simple.
I really know from todays work just how slow these buildings will be. The impact of this is a controlled resolve to absorb the news and keep it steady as if it was insignificant.
The good news is it will look fab. The house I did looks great and bodes well for the long terraces to come.
Tommorrow I will do a little bit of cement casting. Sounds good but only small flat squares. I hope they dont snap too easy... only 12mm thick! see what happens.
today's picture is how much of the mosaic I had completed before I started this blog.
I am a visual artist working in the public realm and have completed loads of projects. I went to St. Martins School of Art and and expected to become a 'painter'. I have had a very different outcome to my career, and work with communities all over the country to deliver various projects, which fall under the catorgory of 'Public Art'. These include mosaics, sculpture, integrated art features and even the layout of public space. These projects are mainly about either the regeneration of, or building of new communities. So working with people has become more important than the images that began my career.