‘What can we do to make that old wash-trough look decent?’ Clare’s Mum asked one day. The wash-trough had been bricked in to make a fish tank with the left-over tiles from when the bathroom had been renovated. The trough now sat as a centre piece in the back garden and was considered an eyesore.
‘We could cover it with a mosaic,’ Clare suggested.
‘What could we use as pieces for the design?’ Mum wondered.
‘There are broken tiles behind the shed. Some pebbles are left over from the footpath,’ Clare did an inventory of the materials available.
The wash-trough became the base for a montage. It was Clare’s first attempt at turning broken pieces into a picture. The creative juices were set in motion even though a few years would lapse before there was another attempt.
THE FIRST CREATORS OF MOSAICS
Mosaic art was first created by assembling small pieces of coloured glass, stones or other materials into a pattern. The earliest known mosaic pieces were found at a temple in Ubaid, Mesopotamia. It is thought to date to the second half of the third millennium BCE. The Greeks were the first creators, to use pebbles of the one size to create a floor mural.
Mosaic art became the ‘in thing’ when Christians began to use it to decorate the walls of churches instead of floors.
The two earliest examples of mosaic art are in Rome. The Santa Costanza, built about AD 350 as the tomb of a daughter of Constantine. This shrine has lively mosaics using pagan themes decorating its vault. More significant is the mosaic in the apse of the Santa Puduziana, dating back to 390 AD.ADs. It depicts Jesus on a throne, his apostles supporting him either side.
THE FACINATION OF DESIGN
When Clare returned to mosaics, design fascinated her, and she studied examples and techniques from books. The bases were still recycled items; trays, boards that could be used for table tops, door numbers.
‘Beautiful pieces of china that were dropped found their way into my shed. The first pieces I produced were door numbers using the fine crockery pieces. The bases were plaques or notices on doors.
Used terra-cotta pots were grist to the mill of mosaicking, ‘Can you do something with these?’ Clare was asked by people wanting to dispose of unwanted pots. Always she rose to the challenge and produced stunning pots. Exterior walls and fences have undergone make overs with Clare’s mosaics.
What was the underlying challenge in mosaics for Clare? ‘I love doing jigsaw puzzles. Using mosaics is fitting the broken pieces together like a jigsaw, into something useful, decorative, striking.’ she says, adding, ‘The challenge for me is taking something that is rejected and turning it into a lovely, ornamental piece, giving it a second chance.’
CARE FOR THE ILL
Training as a nurse and midwife put her in touch with many people who felt rejected by society and by God. Clare spent fifteen years as a missionary in Ghana working among the sick, and down trodden. In later life as a sister in a Doctor’s surgery, she rubbed shoulders with the less fortunate and ill. Her career path, led Clare to help put lives together as in a jigsaw. What was Clare’s secret? The Lord Jesus Christ, who is the master jigsaw solver. She could point the broken individuals to Jesus.
LOVE IS THE GROUT.
God is the master Creator of mosaic art. He sent Jesus to put together the lives of people who felt spurned and without hope and enable them to become useful and wonderful citizens. Clare was his heart of love to minister to them.
Clare uses grout to stick her pieces together. God uses love as his grout. A deep unconditional love to put people back together. He does not reject anybody regardless of who and what they are. God has no favourites. When we experience the unconditional love of God, we are healed in spirit, mind and body.
We can experience that depthless love by opening our heart to God, by responding to him and accepting Jesus. We have to get it out of our head and heart that God is judging us, that he censures us if we get it wrong. Embracing his love, accepting his love heals even our deepest guilt and fear.
THE MIRACLE OF AN INDWELLING CHRIST
‘And he has put his own Holy Spirit into our hearts as a proof to us that we are living with him and he with us… we have seen with our own eyes and now tell all the world that God sent his Son to be their Saviour. Anyone who believes and says that Jesus is the Son of God has God living in him, and he is living with God.’(1John 4: 13 LB)