the making of Mother Nature

I was approached by the Rotary Club of Barrie at the end of 2023 to create a large ceramic mosaic at the Barrie Waterfront. The board had been a donor board for the TransCanada Trail, but it had been relocated years ago, and had been sitting empty. A concrete wall! The perfect substrate for a mosaic.

The illustration was drawn by Angela Aujla, a modern Mother Nature design.


In early February (2024) I sent the illustration to a local print house to enlarge it for my working drawings to begin making the porcelain mosaic tiles. 

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, and with what I was most excited about! First, 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 built up along the way.

The hair was to be created from fish and I thought that I would love to include the children and families and teachers of the Barrie Montessori School where I teach art. Everyone could make a fish! I love community art.....involving as many people as possible to get creative and possibly try something new.

The fish are minnows, the emerald shiners of Lake Simcoe that swim all together in a school!  School of fish?! Ah! The ideas were all coming together brilliantly.

I hosted a free workshop at the school one Saturday and 40 family members made fish. We used pasta letters for their names in the clay. They burn off in the kiln and leave the names embossed in the tile.

Every child from the Montessori preschool (2.5-4yrs) and the Montessori private school (JK-grade 8) made either a "happy bubble" (preschool) or a minnow. Some of the older students wanted to make happy bubbles too with positive messages. I absolutely adore them and I know that the children will be excited to find their tiles on the wall.

I glazed the fish and the bubbles in various shades of touquoise blue.

The lovely fox in the design is legendary....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. Sadly, many of our endangered species in Ontario are turtles. Our snapping turtles are currently (2024) listed as 'Special Concern'. 

The tiny mirror-bits are an homage to my first mosaic instructor, Isaiah Zagar. They will sparkle when the light hits them and add a little more magic to the piece.

We installed the tiles on June 7th and with a fabulous volunteer crew, the grouting was completed on June 9, 2024.

One passerby asked me on the installation day if it was 'everything that I had hoped that it would be?'

What a thoughtful question..... the truth is that on the installation day and then again on grouting day Mother Nature herself was a poured rain on and off all day and it only cleared up just as we were finishing the grouting (!!) The whole process has been an invaluable learning experience and I am thrilled with the final mosaic.

xx Meg






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