the making of Mother Nature

I first met Angela Aujla during the pandemic. I had posted "Judy" a vintage dressmaker's doll that I had lovingly carted around for way too many years and had finally put it up for sale online. Angela bought her. I liked Angela immediately, and then I found out that she was a talented artist!  I love her illustrations and I started to imagine her work as a basis for a mosaic.  I had just brought this up to Angela when I was approached by the Rotary Club of Barrie to create a large mosaic at the Barrie Waterfront.  Angela's beautiful illustrations and collaborating with her was at the front of my mind. It felt meant to be.



Together, Angela and I decided that the design would be based on a modern version of Mother Nature.  When Angela suggested that the hair should be created from fish, I thought that I would love to include the children and families and teachers of the school that I work at in Barrie, and that everyone could make a fish!  We decided the fish would be minnows, the emerald shiners of Lake Simcoe that swim all together in a school!  School of fish?! The ideas were all coming together brilliantly.



Not to sound flakey, but in many of the large projects that I have created, there has often been a moment where something truly magical has happened that tells me, beyond a doubt, that I am where I am meant to be and doing what I am meant to be doing. This moment came when I talked to Angela about my idea to have the children at the school that I teach art at create the minnows so that the mosaic could have a community art component. When she asked what school it was, she told me that her children had attended our school.  Amazing. Meant to be.

The lovely fox in the design is legendary I am told...I guess he is well known to the locals as he walks the Barrie waterfront frequently in the early morning hours.

The loon symbolizes a reawakening of hope, and the white waterlily represents celebration, wellness and also hope.

The snapping turtle is a wise old creature that lives at the bottom of the lake. Many of our endangered species in Ontario are turtles. Our snapping turtles are currently (2024) listed as 'Special Concern'. 



In early February (2024) I sent Angela's drawing to a print house to enlarge it for my working drawings. The first day, with the huge drawing filling all the floor space in my studio, I did wonder how I would ever do this.  It felt like a huge undertaking.

I started slowly. I created the large porcelain tiles for the cheeks, then I made the turtle, the nose, lips, the eyes, the raspberries, the flowers.  You know that age-old advice from school, that if you were taking a difficult test and they said, "start with what you know" or what you feel confident about.....? That's exactly what I did, and the project's positive momentum has built up all along the way.

As I am writing this blog, the tiles are not quite done, but I'm likely about 90% complete. I am feeling a little bit aprehensive, but mostly super excited for the installation process that comes next!

Thank you for following me on this journey. Sharing the process out definitely adds to the fun of it for me. Hey, I tried something new with this project too....I have never created a mosaic from someone else's drawing/illustration. It has truly been a lovely learning experience for me and Angela has been such a gracious co-creator! 

As soon as the warm weather is here we will install the mosaic and grout it and I honestly cannot wait! 

If you are interested in helping with the installation, please reach out. I will need a few volunteers.


Stay tuned. I feel like the final results will be epic...
xx Meg

 More on the talented Angela Aujla




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