I had a vision I wanted to do something larger in life.
Large has no definition. Large will be small as soon as it is achieved and then a new peg is marked for the next big thing.
Over two years that I had been experimenting with mosaics. I had created colourful bright and vibrant mosaic art on murals and mirrors. Adhering tesserae with different types of tesserae with different adhesives to different types of surfaces. A lot that I read about online, observing the works of international mosaic artist. Trying to identify the same or similar products in the Indian market. Sourcing material that is durable and will be able to withstand creativity can be a challenge. Most often the gentleman at the counter has limited knowledge or is just not interested enough to tell, especially when you tell them your required quantities of material is limited. Eventually I resigned to using whatever that I find readily in my local markets, or else I would be waiting till kingdom come to build the castles I wanted to create.
I had been observing the works of Caroline Jariwala, Fernanda Jaton, Isidora Pas Lopez, the magnificent large scale public artworks that covered the length and breadth of architectural structures. I know I want to do that one day, someday. What I noticed is that they primarily use ceramic tiles for their creation that gives them scope for larger area coverage, perhaps durability and of course a larger variety of textures and patterns to play design with.
Last December I was visiting my brother in UK. I reached out to Caroline Jariwala for a workshop. She warmly invited me to stay overnight at her quaint English home in Birmingham. Bright and vibrant in every nook and corner, had inspirations written all over for me and any artist who wants to learn the art of combining picassiette, glass and ceramic tiles. We realised an instant bond and I fit in as her apprentice immediately. I learnt to cut poppy flowers and adhere them to a mesh for direct wall installation.
We spoke at length about the projects I had in mind. I am sure she must have been sceptical at first, but then gave me a happy listening ear…. and before my 3 week vacation came to an end we had DLF 5 sponsoring her visit to India, giving us a public space to showcase the first of its kind collaboration. We together would rock the millennium city Gurgaon’s urban landscape with the beauty of combining ceramic tiles, glass tiles and the carefully cut pieces of crockery Caroline carried from UK. This project was slated for mid-february. This was big and I had no experience of it so far. I knew Caroline would make us sail through but I needed to convince myself of my capabilities.
As soon as I got back to India, a friend commissioned me to create a 70 sq ft terrace wall in mosaic. We had been talking about this wall project for over 6 months but now there was an urgency to move into the apartment on the auspicious day of Basant Panchami, 12th Feb ‘16. Some leg work had already gone into discussing the design. We had almost decided on a Poppy flower meadow with blue skies and butterflies. But eventually the story that they appreciated most was my vivid memory of a visit to the hill town of Kasauli. The morning fog had merely lifted and I had seen this huge expanse of hill flowers in every possible colour dancing on the rocky mountain and beautiful butterflies fluttering away into the blue skies… mesmerised I was… and I guess both Parul and Aakash were too with the visualisation.
The day that we finalised the design, I precisely had 21 days to execute the project…my first of its kind.
I love such challenges… and passion drove high to accomplish the task. I had sourcing to do for the DLF project and deliver the Hill flower on Rocky mountain wall mosaic. I had to incorporate my learnings old and new and somehow mustered the conviction that, I could do it all!
Thank god I had sourced the fibreglass mesh from Caroline. Going by her instructions, I drew the broad outline on large roll of paper taped together for exact wall dimensions. I deliberately placed brown rexine material I had lying around to give the semblance of the wall section that would be covered in slate stone for rocky mountain effect. We covered the design blue print sheet with clear plastic sheet and placed the fibre mesh on it.
Some materials I had and some had been ordered. My studio help Rosina, was set to task to cut glass tile flower petals in pinks lilacs and blues. She must have cut more than 1500 such petals in every given shade. My friend and accomplice Pooja helped assemble the flower bunches for the rocky mountain. They were fast and they were good. I felt blessed.
I focussed on the butterflies; the ones placed closer at eye level were cut out in ceramic tiles for the elevated look and the texture of the tiles I had sourced. The only realisation these tiles were much thicker than what I had used at Caroline’s workshop.
The background swirl patterns of the skies and clouds started forming shape.
My studio was buzzing with support from friends and family. Jyoti, Rakhi, Pooja to my rescue. Time was ticking. I had to get it all done before Caroline Arrived for the DLF project.
8th February was judgement day and here it was the entire glass mosaic on mesh.
The installation was to be done on the terrace of a 10th floor apartment. So we hired professional installers. I could feel the butterflies in my tummy as the installers literally performed a c – section on my mosaic mesh and packed it carefully.
Each section lifted with utmost care…
And pieced back on the floor for installation. …that’s Ali and Sattu discussing the plan in detail.
As advised by Ali, we used the best adhesives. Kerakoll, that’s the adhesive we used for mounting the mosaic mesh. Parul and her daughters came to add bunches of mosaic flowers, while the installation took place.
We worked late into the evening and this is what I had by the end of day….me looking like quite a cartoon :p
Super epoxy grout in 3 shades, neutral, invisible and grey. The invisible grouting to fill in the gaps of the glass tiles.
We stuck broken pieces of slate on the slate wall to give a rocky textured look and also the glass flowers on the rocky mountain as it was etched in my mind.
The before and after of the wall. We were happy with the final outcome of the Hill flowers on Rocky mountain project. All done and dusted by 10th February, ready to receive Caroline on 11th February.
We went to visit Parul and had lovely tea in her beautiful terrace overlooking the DLF Golf course.