Thornwood Mosaics text

Each two dimensional mosaic in this series of urban interventions is in the shape of a bowl about the size of two hands cupped together. All but one of the mosaics are made with glazed ceramic tiles.

The concept for these ‘street offerings’ has its origin in art works made for the exhibition Creative Resilience in November 2022 at Yard Life Gallery in Glasgow. One of these works called Empty 1 was a two dimensional glazed ceramic mosaic in the shape of a bowl. The mosaic was fixed to a piece of broken wall which once belonged to a 19th century building in the heart of Glasgow’s ‘Merchant’ City. The bowl motif in this work reflected the lengthy vacancy of the building before demolition and the act of demolition itself. The work was also inspired by the global Empty Bowls grassroot movement in which handmade ceramic bowls become vessels of hope by motivating and mobilising people to share food.

I am fascinated by Glasgow’s rich and diverse local history, especially that of ceramic tiles and the significant role that tiles once played in the everyday lives of the people of Glasgow. We still have reminders of this past in the beautiful, ornate ‘wally closes’ in some of the old tenement buildings. Many homes and buildings in Glasgow have beautiful mosaic doorsteps or floors from the 19th century. Contemporary mosaic art holds an inherent meaningful connection to this past and I enjoy transforming broken glazed tiles or broken materials into wholeness.

Furthermore the idea for Thornwood Mosaics grew out of a deep lament amidst so much brokenness in the world. When I booked the gallery space at Nicolls at the end of last year, all the paintings had already been completed and I wanted to make something ‘new’ for the exhibition. It was then that I thought of nestling a number of mosaic bowls around the gallery. During this process of making and installing the mosaics, the bowls started to take on new meanings and lives of their own. Each location was either carefully chosen beforehand or the colours in a specific mosaic determined the site afterwards. Initially I thought that these bowls could just be a way to motivate people to donate to their local food banks, but as the process unfolded I came to realise that each bowl became a street offering to the community.
Each has an unmeasurable effect on its location and on the people experiencing the art…a sacred space.

I did not have permission to install all the mosaics and I wrestled with this for a while, because in my attempts to get permission, it was seldom granted. I therefore made the decision to choose only locations which belong to ‘everyone’, to install in daylight while engaging with the community and to install the mosaics with non-permanent adhesive so that no surface is damaged.

If you are inspired by these bowls, please consider donating to your local food bank.