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Mosaics by Michelle McConnell
of Big Tree Mosaics
31 October 2009
The art of mosaics is both ancient and widespread and certainly brings to mind the classical era of the Eastern Mediterranean. Used to decorate everything from pottery vessels to buildings, it embodies an impressionistic technique of playing with dabs of colour and light in such a way that the designs are revealed in vibrant detail, even though no attempt is made to hide the usually broad brushstrokes.
The insight needed to know how to best place mosaic pieces that often contrast strongly with their neighbours, obviously comes with much experience and practice. With designs including everything from geometric patterns to organic forms, one needs to learn how to suggest what the viewer sees, rather than make clean-cut lines and clearly divided areas.
Michelle Mc Connell has mastered these techniques and under the name of Big Tree Mosaics, produces fine mosaic pieces that are imaginative, technically sound and artistically enticing. She is going to be sharing some of her expertise with visitors to the Country Craft Market of 31 October 2009, and will demonstrate her approaches to mosaic art.
It is not at all surprising that Michelle's interest in mosaics began while she was holidaying in Bodrum, on the south coast of Turkey in 2000. Indeed, this treasure-chest of ancient and modern mosaic work is a showpiece for the art form, and an inspiration for any artistically minded person. "The old fort there had the most magnificent mosaic on the floor", she tells. "I took a photograph of the design and promised myself that I would do the same on our veranda floor."
That was the start of Big Tree Mosaics, a name derived from the huge tree that is growing in her Durbanville garden, and that has been there for over one hundred years. Its apparent antiquity, the mosaic of its countless leaves, and the sunlight that plays between its boughs and greenery, make it a worthy symbol for her work.
Michelle has no formal art training but has acquired sufficient knowledge, experience and skill to be able to offer classes to budding mosaic artists. "It is a most practical art form for home decorating", she insists, "and allows one to produce everything from vases to furniture, while beautifying virtually any surface from doors to walls."
Tools of the trade
While bits of tile are typically the mainstay of mosaic work, Michelle uses mirrors, glass, shells, and many other materials that offer the colour, shape and texture she needs for a specific design. All these are grouted together by hand, into the chosen design.
Michelle adds, "It is definitely an art form for those you who love to get their hands dirty". She explains that producing any mosaic piece and having it slowly reveal itself as each new mosaic bit is grouted in, is hugely energising.
"Then, the final revelation - as the work is cleaned of surplus grout and polished up - brings the final joy", she adds, "and often there is an unexpected and pleasant surprise when the work has just acquired that something extra special."
Whether or not such a surprise will reveal itself at Michelle's demonstration on 31 October, visitors can count on seeing high quality, neat and original mosaic work in the making. Make sure your visit to this Country Craft Market to see the big variety of interesting craftwork, includes a visit to her stall to watch her producing mosaic work at its best.
Last Updated 01 November 2017 16:11