New Zealand Mosaic Art

A mosaic chaise longue for weary legs

Climb the steep slope up Days Track in Nelson and you’ll be relieved to find an amazing mosaic couch which absolutely invites you to stop for breath, take in the stunning view over Tasman Bay and Tahunanui, and wonder at the dedication of a community and the inspiration of a group of Nelson mosaic artists who created ‘Sofa so Good – A Couch with a View.’

In December 2011 during a severe storm the mid section of Days Track was washed out and closed to the public. Fearing it would not reopen, The Days Track Group was formed and succeeded in getting agreement from the Nelson City Council to begin a major rebuild in 2016. The group decided that a fitting reminder of the event and a means of continuing the friendships established would be to site a mosaic sofa half way up. There was work for everyone; a base to build, a design to ponder and much mosaic expertise to create a ceramic vision that would delight climbers and, on a practical note, hold against the weather.

The base is made from an actual couch, which was covered in chicken wire and concreted. One end was removed to create a chaise longue – there had to be room for everyone to fit! An eight- and-a half ton digger was required to carefully move it up the slope.

The beautiful design was created by Rocks Road artist Colleen Dallimore who walked the track many times before deciding on a ‘Sea to City’ theme appropriately recognising Days Track as a historical way into town. The scene on the back of the sofa includes the cathedral, the Gothic tower and the church steps memorial. The historic lamp post is offset with the modern hanging baskets of Trafalgar Street. Also on the back are images of houses, once seen on the walk from the city to the track. The name “Sofa so good” is vibrantly mosaiced at the end of the sofa. The front captures views from the Tahuna hills.

Translating these colourful and intricate drawings into a mosaic reality was the project management job of Ellie Fijn, assisted by Barbara Spencer and a team of dedicated artists: Susanne Williamson, Lindsay Twiname, Kay Switzer, Susan Pannell, Esther Sassenburg, Esther Baumann and Elen Heinrich.

The proportions of the chaise challenged the design. It was cut into sections and placed so that it flowed continuously around the sofa. These sections were given to individuals so they could work each piece onto mesh in their own time and place and then bring everything together to produce the whole picture. It was hundreds of hours work placing thousands of pieces of tiles together. Assembling on a sloping site in all weathers was hard work but the project begun in late February was completed by the end of August. The track was opened in September 2017.

Ellie says that the aim was to make something comfortable that had significance for the community and give walkers a place of rest and reflection.

Sofa so Good (Trailer)

Sofa so Good (Trailer) from Anna Hickman on Vimeo.

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