Deadlines and Countdowns

Deadlines

Life is busy just now, but then what’s new. Since moving to our new pad out at Dalchonzie, where I’m just doing mosaic and no B&B, I’ve been going from project to project which is always good fun.

In May, I saw an opportunity to submit a design for an ‘animal parade’ . This one was called “Crieff Cowches” and it was essentially 11 life-sized highland cows to be decorated. Normal people, such as “In the Garden with Friends” artists Ceri White and Gail Robertson, would do this by painting, however I have always wanted to do a mosaic one. And given that it was in the town where I had lived for 20 years, and Scotland’s Charity Air Ambulance will be the beneficiary after the auction in October, a great cause, I thought I’d give it a go.

I was approached by Graham of Gordon & Durward. He wanted to sponsor me and we came up with the idea of covering it in mice, given that Gordon & Durward make sugar mice. The cow is called “Sweetie Annie”.

So making this Mosaic took place in June. It involved over 25 mice and took me approximately 260 hours with a further 120 hours by volunteers over a 30 day period. As with my usual style, I tried to incorporate as much old crockery as possible. All the work in progress photographs can be seen on my Facebook page in the Sweetie Annie album.

Sweetie Annie Full
Sweetie Annie in Crieff

The auction for Sweetie Annie will take place on the Wednesday, 9th of October with a black-tie dinner at the Hydro Hotel in Crieff. If you would like more information contact David McCann by email on david.crieffsucceeds@gmail.com, or get in touch with me and I’ll pass it on. Tickets for the event evening can be bought via Eventbrite.

Sweetie Annie Head

Countdowns

Perthshire Open Studios is approaching fast with only 10 or so days to go, running from the 7th to the 15th of September. 10am until 5pm. I’m going to be closed on the Thursday this year.  Look out for venue 112 on the Green Route.

Visitors are always welcome even without necessarily buying anything. My passion for mosaics means that I can just talk about them until the cows come home.

I had asked via Facebook as to what kind of information would entice visitors to visit me, and got some great advice.  Some of this I have made into a series of banners. So here goes

Perthshire Open Studios Details
Perthshire Open Studios Details
Perthshire Open Studies 2019 visitors welcome
Perthshire Open Studies 2019 visitors welcome
Map of how to find venue 112, Katy Galbraith
Map of how to find venue 112, Katy Galbraith
Map of Dalchonzie area
Map of Dalchonzie Area

Whilst I have many things on the table right now, including mirrors, mosaic balls, little slates, little birds: my usual scatter- brained approach, I also have to progress our bathroom mosaic which is very intricate and based on a paisley design.

But this year is all about the birds…

Hanging Birds in Mosaic
Hanging Birds in Mosaic, each one is unique

I do hope you can come visit…

Cyprus ~ day 7 ~ finally

I don’t know how I have arrived at mid May 2019 and have finally faced up to writing up day seven of my Cypriot trip. Maybe because for the highlight of the day, the Paphos mosaics, I took the poorest photos in the excitement of the visit.

But to complete to documentation of the study trip, I write this whilst on a train to Crewe heading to a mosaic project.

Packing up our bags, finishing up the kiln, having lunch consumed the early part of the day, then we headed towards Paphos, with a distraction here and a distraction there, which meant that we got to the Roman ruins about an hour before closing. So I legged it round.

But so glad I did. The area of Nea Paphos covers approx one kilometre square of ruins, once a prosperous town, likely to date back to approx 4th century bc reaching its height of wealth at the tail end of the 2nd century ad. So pretty old.

So giving you a snapshot of some of the mosaics (the best of my images):

The Theseus and the Minotaur mosaic is so impressive in its size and intricacies, with such a detailed frame, with chains, rows, guilloche and more.

The Enormity of the Framing

Theseus and the Minotaur

Theseus and the Minotaur edging detail

Exploring The House of Aion, the mosaics were, to me, mind blowing. Intricate in design and details yet so large in size that they were hard to capture in a photograph, plus I was still zooming around at a pace of knots. The size of the individual stone tesserae are 2-5mm, and to give you an idea, the panel below measures 1.99 x 1.31 metres.

The floor was comprised of five panels, this one, represents the moment when Baby Dionysos is about to be handed over to Tropheus and the nymphs of Mount Nysa.

Floor Mosaic in House of Aion

I cannot remember

In the House of Dionysos there are 34 mosaics, and it is believed that the patron would choose the subject matter from copy books which would be created as a mosaic, yet the mosaicists were not always familiar with the subjects represented, so there are some errors.

Below is a section representing the tragic story of Phaedra and Hippolytos. I love that he is about to go hunting only wearing his boots and a shawl.

Phaedra and Hippolytus

I came away with the official Guide to the Paphos Mosaics which has way better pics than mine, and all the stories that explain the mosaics. I wish I had it before I went and that I had the whole day to self-indulge.

Then after a cooling down drink and a wander about the harbour, we headed to visit the Lempa Wall. At dusk, so images are even worse:

Created by the Cypriot artist Stass Paraskos in 2002, it is made of discarded materials, including a toilet, oil cans, mosaic, bike parts etc. I just love anything this eclectic, whilst technically not that accomplished in terms of mosaic, there is such joy in it.

Mosaics and more at the Lempa Wall
Lempa Wall section

So all-in-all, I had a brilliant week, and I learned so much, had so many inspirational moments and loved the enthusiasm of Martin and the other participants.

Thanks to Martin of Grampus Heritage, The community of Kato Drys, the Arch Network and Eurasmus Plus funding.

Finishing the Mosaics, Completing the Oven, and More Out-and-About

Days Five and Six of our trip were focused on finishing our mosaics and completing the adobe brick oven, with scatterings of other cultural activities in-between. So rather than doing my usual timeline of activities, I will write it up by project/theme. And some of day seven may well have been included here too!

We started first thing in the morning by grouting our mosaics… well, mine were different, so I assisted the others with theirs, and floated about the courtyard like a spare part!  Using fingers and papertowels as tools in the clean up wouldn’t be my way of working, I am a credit card (or store card) for spreading the grout & cut up towels for wiping excess away kind of girl.

I wrote about the finished mosaics, with pictures, in a previous blog, so click here to see them

The adobe brick oven was also in for some serious work, building up the walls and the domed section of the oven.

Having created a big load of bricks out of straw, clay, liquid and soil (see day one for the process), we started building up. The bricks needed to be laid in a staggered way, so that there were some that went across both lines, tying in all faces of the walls.  The right hand side image was a demonstration without any “mortar”.

Esther was delighted with her brick!

Esther Showing off her Brick

Using a mortar made of the same mix as the bricks, we worked on the side walls, then with a shaped polystyrene form for holding the arch up during construction, we worked away on that section.  The bricks were fanned out with a old shard of tile as the wedge, all mortared in as we went along.  Keith came into his own at this point – Man’s Work – as did Kirsty, who is an architect and maker, and has often taught brick-laying in that role.

Once the dome was made, the front was completed, leaving a space for the oven door – though the hinge part was also fixed in.  As you can imagine, it was a bit too messy for much photography, though it is quite well covered in our film which we made.

When all the bricks were in place, we did a final coat over the surface, and it was at this point that my mosaic were put in place, purely by pushing them into the surface until all the tesserae were touching the mortar mix.  All a bit experiemental, but it worked.  The blue nugget in the centre of the flower came from the silver-smith’s workshop, a by-product of their work.

I was also challenged to make something of a broken fish shaped jug, so with a bit of careful nibbling, I managed to get the head cut out, which was also fixed into the mortar.

kiln fish

Once the mortar had a chance to dry, the polystyrene arch was removed and we then rendered it with a lime-mix screed, which dried to a soft creamy/grey tone.  

With the mosaics, I delicately grouted them with the mix, making sure that I did not dislodge any of the pieces, and then as the “grout” dried, cleaned it off the top surfaces.

kiln mosaic 4

If I were to critique my work, and were I to do it again, I would have either used less white (though most of the crockery at my disposal was white) or ask that the mortar be tinted darker, as the cow (and the goat a bit) look somewhat insipid, and the grout / tesserae colour combe is so important!

So that was the kiln finished.

kiln group photo

Another activity on-site was the making of small ceramic acorns – squeezed in as an activity as only a couple of people could do the rendering at any one time.  Kato Drys means Ancient Oak, so as part of Martin’s Green Village project, they sell these acorns.  I couldn’t resist making a flamingo too.

In amongst all this, we had the chance to visit the Choirokoita Neolithic Settlement, which included a re-creation of a small settlement.  Blisteringly hot, I realised that I am so much more interested in the decorative elements of a building than it’s construction and function.  So much so, that the pictures that I took that day were more about their information centre, and how it’s design could be used by Comrie Croft near me!

We also got to go wine tasting, which is always fun.  And I duly came home with some honey, grape juice and a bottle of RED WINE….

wine tasting

And a bit of walking around the town of Lefkara, between our accommodation, the student house and Martin’s house, I was able to do a bit of door envy.  Very on-trend with my love of turquoise & blue doors – the more delapidated the better!

And finally, inspiration in the student’s house.  It had a lovely vibe in the courtyard, and great wall-art in the kitchen, accompanied by a poem, which has already triggered another thought process for another mosaic. That is what it is all about.

Student's House Courtyard

 

Last night I dreamed a strange savage future



The world had warmed and most had died



We lived with camels that lived on spiny cacti



Whilst we ate dates, goats and salty cheese








The land is seared and burned so we must swim



A fetid ocean that teemed with fish in my youth



Now only dreadful, Godless creatures live there



Bred by scientists to gobble up our awful waste








With good but flawed intent they created new life



Mindless of sowed seeds of dreadful doom



Swapping genes and installing gleaming chips



Gobbling fuel in their great whirring machines








These engineered fish now are feral, escaped



Uncontrolled they eat metal and glass and oil



Mimicking beauty with patterened shining flesh



They flash into the bay cutting water with a whine








Boiled and limpid under the burning noon sun



We mush swim there, to escape the fizzing heat



Gambling their lives some shrieking feed the fish



They eat our waste but now eat the wasted people








Source: Green Village, Lefkara

Kourion Mosaics, archaeological sites, Halloumi and more mosaics ~ Day four of my Cypriot Adventure

Visiting the Kourion Archaeology site in Cyprus, with spectacular Roman mosaics, also a Halloumi Farm and contemporary mosaics in Limassol

The Thursday was about heading to Limmasol, and visiting the Roman site of Kourion.  Like all of our trips away from Lefkara, we had to do a couple of stop offs en-route, and today’s detour was via a halloumi farm.

The delights of halloumi are many, great taste, unusual texture, pretty healthy, a great addition to the salad, and I have even found a cashew nut and halloumi curry recipe which is fantastic!  So we were all really pleased to get taken to meet the goats and sheep, whose milk is combined to make the halloumi, and to see the process of making it, and of course to taste…

Herding the Sheep
Herding the Sheep at the Halloumi Farm in Cyprus

Holding a Newborn
Holding a Newborn

The farm is one of the projects supported by the Martin of Grampian Heritage – trying to find ways of traditional agriculture entering the modern day, and here the problem is one of staffing.  They have more demand for their halloumi than they can manage, but struggle for staff in their rural location, and are caught in a position where they do not want to increase their herd size, then find they have no staff to milk.  A couple of the course participants mentioned the idea of woofers, individuals who would work for them in return for learning about the processes and enjoying Cypriot life – a hard concept to start with, but a model that was felt could be looked at to support the Halloumi Farm.

Whilst eating lunch, halloumi with tasty tomatoes and home made lemonade, I perused the varying artworks on the wall, and this caught my eye.  A mosaic of snail shells…

Mosaic Made of Snail Shells
Mosaic Made of Snail Shells

We then headed on into the centre of Limassol where we were to meet with the  Limassol Mosaic Collective. Originally started in 1981 as a wider group of contemporary mosaic artists, working individually and collaboratively, they now having to re-think their organisation and are closing their premises. The purpose of the visit was to show the group how mosaics can be used in a contemporary context, and it was useful to see their showcase pieces including a doorstep mosaic, a disabled sign on the toilet and a vespa.

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Upstairs they had a fantastic shop of tiles, and more tiles.  Not my cup of tea for my mosaics, being a recycle queen myself, but very tasty eye-candy anyway.  This is where Panayiota buys the materials for the classes. When they close, where will she go, or can I encourage her to give the recycling a go!?!

Then it was a quick visit to a bakery to pick up a carry out lunch, and on to Kourion, near Episkopi.

At this point, I should apologise for the photos.  It was blisteringly hot, and the sun was beating down, and whilst most of the mosaics were protected, under cover, it was so difficult to get images due to the shadow play.  I have done my best with the mosaic images. The heat was too much for some, and the site pretty big, so it was a bit of a mad dash around to see the best bits. We were there at about 3pm, and it must have been nearly 30°, if not more, and the site closed at 5pm, so one tip for the Department of Antiquities, have a longer lunch time and open later into the evening, so more visitors could enjoy the site in comfort.

The Roman ruins, with some impressive mosaics, date back to approximately the 4thcentury AD. And beyond mosaics, the rest of the archaeological site was of interest too! 

More-or-less the first mosaic you land on is the House of Eustolios with a large floor mosaic from the 5th Century.  The focal point of the central room of the baths features Ktisis (Creation) in a medallion holding an object thought to be a measure which is the length of a Roman foot.

Ktisis, or Creation, at the House of Eustolios
Ktisis, or Creation, at the House of Eustolios

The other three panels include a partridge motif, other birds and a fish.

One little bit of mosaic work that I spotted ~ a few years ago, I read a mosaic artist’s take on andemento, and the “correct” way to finish two lines going into together into a narrower space.  And seemingly so many people did it “wrong”.  Never one to follow the rules, I generally do it how it happens, if my materials allow it, how it looks.  And then I spotted this mosaic – the craftsperson on this job was doing it “wrong” too.

Andemento in Mosaic, Kourion
Andemento in Mosaic, Kourion

The whole site, beyond visiting the mosaics, was packed with the ruins of buildings, including pillars, clear indications of their heating systems, an amphitheatre, where Lucy did a good rendition of a scottish ballad, and arches, which made a great photographic back-drop. See below!

And how’s this for a hunk of a man?

House of Gladiators Mosaic Floor, Kourion
House of Gladiators Mosaic Floor, Kourion

Finally, and America’s Next Top Model moment, with Kirsty, Esther, Lucy and Judith (and me at the front)

kourion arch with us

This visit to Cyprus has been funded by Erasmus+, with ARCH Network as the promoter and Kato Drys Community Council as our hosts.  We were welcomed by Martin Clark, a resident of the town, who is also a partner in Arch Network, and is a Director of Grampus Heritage and training.

Cyprus Mosaic Days ~ day three

I was promised mosaics, and I got them in abundance during days three and four of the Cypriot study trip.  The Wednesday was all about the group making their own mosaics to take home, and so learning the dark arts of cutting tile, spacial awareness and sticking.

But first off, a quick visit to the local silversmiths just next door to the Student House.

There were two older men, casting beautiful silver pieces, many of them inspired by the history and flora & fauna of the area, including acorns (as the village of Kato Drys is named for the ancient Greek for oak – though few trees survive there today) and fertility symbols (see the last post about the museum).  As we found elsewhere, their grown-up children didn’t want to follow in their footsteps, but one of our group, Kirsty, did and hopes to have the chance to return and learn from them!

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One of the Silversmiths

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Martin Clark, taking a break

We then moved across to the student house, a charming house with an inner courtyard.  As I already know mosaics, Panayiota left me to my own devices to make a mosaic on mesh for the brick oven that we were making. I let her teach the class, though couldn’t resist assisting her when needed.

Panayiota has been making mosaics for the last few years, using mostly glass tile, but is very accomplished.  I hope I showed a new way of working and cutting to increase her skill set!  Love two-way sharing of info & skills!

I worked away on the fibreglass mesh which came from the back of the tiles, and used a box of ceramics which had come from Martin’s kitchen and his collection of coffee cups, searching out the special bits to include in my designs which in turn were inspired by our visit to the museum at Nicosia. The neolithic pots with zoomorphic designs.

So I finished with a goat, a cow, a fish and a couple of my usual flowers.

The others in the group made their own mosaics which were very diverse in colours and ambition.  Work – in – progress shots

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Having spent a lot longer than planned with the silversmiths, the grouting actually took place later in the week, but here are their finished mosaics

And a few of us finished off the day with a swim in the sea… way to go!

This visit to Cyprus has been funded by Erasmus+, with ARCH Network as the promoter and Kato Drys Community Council as our hosts.  We were welcomed by Martin Clark, a resident of the town, who is also a partner in Arch Network, and is a Director of Grampus Heritage and training.

My Cyprus Adventures ~ Day Two

Day two was all about Nicosia (Lefkosia), artefacts and the Turkish side…

We set off bright and early to the North town of Nicosia, which spans both the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot sides of the country.  We travelled via the Kornos Coop Pottery, a women’s collective established many years ago to support a small community of women workers.  Now only two people are creating traditional pots, and they are looking to retirement.

 

The two women demonstrating the making process, sit on low stools and feed the clay onto the bases of the pots at such speed, it was most impressive.  I have posted a tiny film on my Facebook Page here (as I don’t have the facility to do it on my WordPress site).

We then headed to Nicosia, to the Cyprus Museum, which houses the Archaeological treasures in 14 galleries, including art pieces “from the 8th millennium bc to the end of Antiquity.”

And here I found mosaic inspiration in abundance.

The utilitarian pots had decorations on them that showed the domestication of animals including cattle and goats.  Three of the designs were interpreted in mosaic later in the week for the kiln (watch out for when I get that one written).

And I was drawn to the fertility symbols, and most certainly feel a mosaic sculpture coming in the future… maybe for next year’s New Hopetoun Gardens Art in the Garden exhibition!  They were flat figures, with breasts and/or arms, some had faces some with expressions on them…  Not that I need any fertility help myself, of course, so may need to find another reason to make them…

And the jewellry was also inspiring.  Throughout the visit, I was more drawn to the textures and use of decoration in all of the different items on show, maybe that is to do with the visual artist in me.

And finally, for my creative ceramacist friend Anna Olson, who has made gingerbread babies in clay for Christmas garlands, this piece caught my eye

Gingerbread Babies
in the archaological museum in Nicosia

We then headed into the town centre of Nicosia, via a traditional lace shop, and a leather supply shop.  The leather shop is a supplier for some of the fashion projects undertaken with the Green Village shop in Lefkara, and is such an traditional, old-style shop full of leather notions!

Lefkara Embroidery
Traditional skills of embroidery of Lefkara

Then it was passports out, and crossed the Green Line into the Turkish side.  I won’t go into the history of it all here, and it is certainly complicated!  There are sad stories of atrocities and also positive stories of neighbours of different origins helping each other, but complicated and still on-going.  Ironically, there is a Peace mosaic (and another impressive sculpture nearby) right beside the passport control.

With a tasty lunch in the Buyuk Han, an old caravanserai with a good restaurant, some craftspeople and touristy shops – I bought a turquoise pomegranite ceramic vase to go in my new kitchen – we then had a bit of time out to do our own thing.  I visited the Selimiye Mosque, which used to be a Catholic Cathedral until the Ottomans, and you can still see the building construction.  As always, surface decoration appeals.

And finally, graffiti … always love a bit of graffiti and personal expression it allows

My Cyprus Adventures Continued – Day One

As I finally find time to sit and write, only because I woke up so early and am enjoying the peace and quiet before everyone else wakes, I hope to be able to add to my blogging diary!  This week has been so full on, yet truly inspiring for me, that there has been little free time, beyond later in the evening with a glass of wine… blogging lapsed from the first day!  and  now it is the last…

Our hosts, Martin and Panayiota are such lovely hosts.  Martin is larger than life, so knowledgeable, about the local flora and fauna, birds, neolithic sites… you name it, he has knowledge, and he collects branded coffee cups, brightly coloured vintage clothes and zoomorphic branded roof tiles.   Panayiota, whose name derives from the Greek epithet of Panagia or Panayia (“All-Holy”) for the Virgin Mary, and she is an absolute delight.  Married to a Greek Scotsman, she lived in Glasgow for many years and has that keen sense of humour.  She is also very talented in the traditional Lefkara lace, and seems to be related to so many people.

Martin and Panayiota
Martin and Panayiota

We started off the week with a tour of the village by Panayiota, who explained a lot of the idiosyncrasies of the architecture, that they are generally constructed around a courtyard to keep the house cool in the summer… with a big front door.  Of the ones that we saw open, they look so inviting and a the perfect place for a party! And we visited a few smaller churches, to look at the icons, and where she told us about some of their traditions – such as when it is their child’s names saints day, they would bake a special bread and share it with the congregation after the service.

A couple of things that, at first, look a bit weird, but then with explanation, you understand, there were wax heads and bodies by the altars, and in one small church dedicated to a saint whose “thing” was eyes, there was a collection of silver eyes.  All of these were offerings or tokens were for someone who was ill or needed divine intervention.

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After lunch we headed to Martin’s house, which is his place of teaching as well as his home. With curios and items on every wall, it is quite a fascinating place… especially his collection of cups with cafe/coffee/logos on (more about that later). And we got going on the adobe brick making.

This involved stomping about in a pit of clay / soil / liquid / straw until all the bits of whatever were broken up until it became a sludge.  This was then filled into the metal brick-making moulds (mostly by our hands), the mould pulled away and the bricks left to air dry. The moulds are made by tin-smiths in the Turkish side of Cyprus.

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stomping in the mix in size 11s

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the adobe brick oven base

these are existing ovens in Martin’s garden