GOWLdi - The Tiled Fish Owl
2018, Auckland, height 1630 mm x width 920 mm, hand cut ceramic tiles, broken crockery and mosaic tiles, cast fiberglass substrate. Created for The Haier Big Hoot Public Art Trail in Auckland. I was one of 48 artists (and the only mosaic artist) chosen to adorn a giant Owl positioned amongst the streets of greater Auckland City. Mine was based in Onehunga Mall. They were exhibited from February - May 2018 before being auctioned off for The Child Cancer Foundation. The name GOWLdi popped up in my head in reference to the famous Catalan Architect Gaudi who is famous for the use of the ‘modernist’ ceramic mosaic style. The Blakiston Fish Owl is a sub-group of the Eagle-Owl. It is the largest, and one of the most endangered species of owl in the world. They can be found in Japan, Russia and Euroasia and feeds on a variety of aquatic prey including crayfish, pike, salmon and trout. Blakiston’s Fish Owl is revered by the Ainu peoples of Hokkaido, Japan as a Kamuy (divine being) called Kotan kor Kamuy (God that Protects the Village).
Waiwhetu Stream Picnic Area Mosaic Wall Mural
2018, Lower Hutt, 13800 mm x 8300 mm highest point, Vitreous glass mosaic. Commissioned by the Friends of Waiwhetu Stream and Hutt City Council. The design of this mosaic mural responds to the natural stream environment of Waiwhetu river, incorporating the native flora and fauna found in the area.
Art in the Park Community Mural Project
2016, Terrace Gardens on Flagstaff Hill Wellington, 6,000 mm x 1,600 mm, ceramic tiles. Wall Mural commissioned by Wellington City Council for Art in The Park. My contribution to a collaboration of artwork around Terrace Gardens outdoor pocket park in the city centre. The design is based on stories of the various uses of the park over the years as a children’s playground, a quiet reflective space, a place to perform and a site of passive protest. The central figure of the mosaic is a meditating jester. This figure was taken from a photo of one of Flagstaff Hill’s prominent residents, Ralph Pannet who used to dress and perform as a jester- clown. Jesters are not typically associated with meditation or quiet pursuits. Here, however, the jester embodies the history of this space, which has seen many different activities and eras. He is surrounded by Manuka, Kanuka, Kowhai and Harakeke flowers and birds, Tui and Kaka, and Monarch butterflies – celebrating the life that makes this space a sanctuary.
Aro Valley Preschool Mosaic Mural
2016, 7500 mm x 1000 mm (highest point), ceramic tiles, cement fibreboard substrate attached to wood.
Waimapihi Stream wall mural
This mural depicts the history of the local Waimapihi Stream that runs from the top of Aro Valley, to the city. It flows in pipes under the preschool as it makes its way to Wellington Harbour. Originally the stream flowed through the area now known as Aro Park (next to the preschool). It was here that Mapihi, a Maori princess, is reputed to have bathed. The area around the preschool is warm and sheltered, and was used by Maori for growing gardens for Te Aro Pa and the stream was used by Maori for watering these gardens. Kumara is occasionally still found growing in the surrounding area. The mural reflects some of the story of “our place” – the history of the local area and the connection this has for members of the community now, as kaitiaki of the preschool and neighbourhood.
Mosaic Mandala of Newtown
2017, Wellington,1600 mm diameter, cut ceramic tiles. Wall Mural created with the clients of Alpha Gallery and Studio and Idea Youth who have intellectual disabilities. Mandala is Sanskrit for ‘circle’ which is a universal symbol for wholeness and unity. A mandala has been known to be used as a creative tool to reflect on one’s personal centre. In this case we applied the same concept to ‘centre’ and focus the energy of the group working and creating closely together. Examples of mandalas can be found in all ancient cultures. The fact that Newtown is the most multicultural community in Wellington City is significant - a ‘cultural mosaic’ of diverse ethnicities and languages. Within this mandala are snippets of colour and pattern echoed in relation to the patterns found in textiles, architectural features and natural forms all within Newtown’s culturally diverse and vibrant streets.
CARAF African Community Centre Mosaic Exterior Wall Mural
2006, North London UK, 25 square metres total, ceramic and glass. The Caraf Centre is an African Community Centre situated in Queens Crescent Chalk Farm North London I was commissioned by Groundwork North London to work with the centre on a series of designs for a mosaic mural on the outside of the centre wall. The young people who use the centre went on a trip to Gambia and brought back images for inspiration to work from. The theme centres around the Tree of Life emerged in a gradual blend from night to day. It is emerged in a background describing typical African symbols and images of masks, textiles, costumes, instruments and vegetation, fruits and animals. Rachel Silver
I am an artist, designer and educator in mosaic art specialising in community based public art projects.
Although born in Wellington, I trained in mosaic making under French architect Pierre Mesguich and worked for his company ‘Mosaik’, producing prestigious interiors for clients in London, Paris and Barcelona. We produced mosaics for the higher end interior design market including bathrooms, bars and the odd jacuzzi. I then set up a studio in London’s East End where site-specific commissions for commercial spaces, private residences and landscape architects became my focus. After completing studies in community arts and art therapies my practice then progressed into the public arena working in arts and education with participation from diverse communities including Brazil, Argentina and Chile.
My career has taken me to far corners of the world. I’m particularly inspired by my experiences in South America collaborating with artists and facilitating projects with marginalised groups. In Latin America culture mosaic is a prolific urban art form.
I like to blend contemporary and traditional mosaic styles both of which integrate elements of warmth, spirit, vivid colour and fluidity.
Location: Toi Poneke Arts Centre, Abel Smith Street, Wellington
See my work: