Part 1 was rather rudderless: Part 2: further solitary in ‘The Cooler’ through the summer. My sentance another big floor mosaic.


I recieved this email after a request for information on progress or news about the installation of my mosaics.


‘Unfortunately progress is slow on the redesign for the junction as there are a lot of considerations to take into account.

We believe that we have a solution and we are awaiting a detailed drawing from our designers.

Once we have this we will be required to confirm acceptance from the local authority.

All this takes time as you can appreciate and we want this completed as soon as possible so that you can complete your works’.


Since the last post the local authority have agreed to adopt the mosaics after the 12 month gaurentee period that I am responsible for any repairs to them, but I am unable to install yet as the site needs modifications (quite major rebuilding including groundworks). But I thought it was encouraging as it shows intent to commit and complete the project, and as my old Mum used to say, ‘Everthing comes to those that wait’. Not sure that is actually true , though it will probably apply in this case.

So, a time-lapse video of the final mosaic from the series of seven.


Another Delay:

I don’t want to turn this blog into another one about waiting. My other blog called ‘The cooler King’

was all about waiting…….Waiting for this project to start, and I describes in a veiled way the reasons and scenarious that prevented it from moving forward. So again I am at another impasse.

I did unofficially visit the site for these mosaics, and was a little shocked at the site preparation. I spoke with the clerk of works about it, who asked me how to fix it, and then said it was always a temporary subase and now you have told us what is required we can do it properly to your spec.

Why not do it to the right spec the first time ?

The local council seemed to have refused to adopt the mosaics after the 12 months guarantees I agreed to in my contract with the developer.

So I have a set of mosaics no one wants and a site that I can’t install them on.

But I have been paid according to my contract thus far.

So it is out of my hands again and I don’t want to write another blog about waiting.

But I have started my next large mosaic for Nunhead (the one with more than half a dozen design re-works). Having said that I am extreamly pleased with it and think it will be great. It is based on the idea of an oriental rug. These persian type rugs show history, heritage and cultural stories in the motifs developed in their patterns. Using that idea I have designed a Nunhead Rug for the Green. Persian rugs are portable and you can unroll them on the green and have a picnic on, eating with your famliy and friends, but also with your ancestors and their stories and a collective history. My Nunhead Rug may not be quite so comfortable to sit on and you wont be able to roll it up after the sandwhiches, but I hope it has the same cultural value.

So….. I am still in the cooler making mosaics. But this blog is really about the x7 Bicester Mosaics and as a result of the delay I have decided to finish this blog here.

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I dont feel so guilty now I read Claire Eastgate’s new blog:

What she says about working as an artist for money and the satifaction that brings or does’t bring is something I have wrestled with on and off for a long time and I,m looking forward to her talking about a new phase in the development of her work.

I have begun my new commission another big mosaic, not a new development for me, an opportunity to develop technique may be!

But that is not what I wanted to tell you. I wanted to say that doing a commission and developing your work by doing what floats your boat or stimulates creative juices is possible. last June 2013 I tilled the interior of some public toilets on Dover Promenade. This really took mosaic to a place I wanted to take it and had been waiting for many years to do this, after countless rejections proposing this approach on all kinds of public projects. I call it ‘organic tilling’ and of course is inspired by one of my hero artists Hundertwasser.

see the photos here

There were political sensativities about the project and the toilets remained closed for about 10 months even though they were fully re-furbished. Closed right up untill last week when they were finally opened to the public and my tilling seen for the first time……! It was great to see the results in a finished building (not a building site, which was how things were when I last saw it). And those commissioning the project were very pleased as well. It costs 20p to use the toilets, and see the artwork…bargain!

I took a day off public art during the Easter period and made my own paints from the clays and rocks from the cliffs near where I live. I wrapped some in foil and backed some in a bonfire to make darker colours, and one yellow made a red, surprised when that came out the other was a slightly darker grey. I painted a wooden head and some sticks and put them in my garden……..all part of what I really would like to be doing…… instead I’m in the cooler through the summer now developing my mosaic technique.


Perspective, time and reflection.

That is it.

If I look back and can see why I am so frustrated.

I had a purple patch for a few years, where my clients allowed me to have ideas and they worked with me to help me realise them. I was experimenting with new materials, new ways of working and being an artist so so great.

Now, just by the roll of a dice really I have two very different clients, with different surrounding circumstances.

No; my clients are just as nice, just as well meaning, but the BUT is things are linked to so many other influencing factors that I can’t make things happen and neither can they, I feel powerless.

I am not installing the set of seven mosaics I spent more than seven months making, its …er….. on ice and I have cancelled my accomodation booking. I am sure I will install them, but even the site that has been built for them is now having alternatives considered.

The ‘partnership working’ on this project is a blend of:

Property Developer

Town Council

and County Council (Highways Dept). which is where this last hurdle that has taken all involved on programme by surprise at the 11th Hour. So something like 2.5 years later were still hitting unexpected issues.

My other project is a blend of

The community, through a representative,

The Council,

and the Councils Architect.

All with views, ideas and agendas which opose each, other so when one agrees the other undoes what went before. I have no real clear boss or employer and it is ‘my responcibity’ to gell these organisations together to agree shared goals, and get progress, while addressing all points of view.

I have managed to stay true to my oringinal inspiration or idea, after a lot of input from all partners on content, subject matter, composition, colour descisions, site, size and format. I wondered why was an artist brought on board at all, other design proffesionals and arts administrators were taking on that role, and all that was really required were contractors to tender for the implementation of an already given design.

We have at last appeared to have passed through all that, and my original starting point has now become addopted and I am drawing out my design now. Of course this is on the hurry up now after such as slow start, I was paid to start in Nov. It feels a little like working for free now, though of course that is not true.

So by comparison life as an artist was so great, when I felt I was working with my clients. This however, is the other side of the coin. But only a phase and I will survive in the cooler through the summer. And come out wiser, looking for interesting things to do.


I believe I left the workshop door open overnight my mistake!

How do I know that? Because I found the door open you ask me, well that may be true but I am in and out and cant remember if I just popped in to get my phone charger or something trivial. But the reason I know is because my dog Cosmo was particularly interested in things. News sniffs to sniff and stuff and exploring behind places he had no interest in before!

Did mice or a cat wander opportunisticly in I wonder. Nothing missing or taken only my enthusuiasm for work. But I am feeling better after my little tantrum last time and preparing the cartoon for my next mosaic will start on that tommorrow. Today….well pigments at Turner Contemporary…….I am really excited about that. Pigments Painting….just dreams at the moment, more mosaics to make for the forseeable.

So the mosaics cut up and stored ready to go. Accomodation booked and installation starts week 22nd after bank holiday. The installation is the part where the craftsman or tradesman really comes to the fore and installing these mosaics is just as much part of the process as making them. An old friend of mine many years ago said

‘the measure of a good craftsman is how they adapt and cope when things go wrong’.

Never a truer word spoken.

I took a photo every time I started work on the final mosaic ‘The Windmill’ and put together what is really a cartoon (the other sort made of still pictures joined together).

Mosaic Flick Book (The Windmill)