Chile oozes culture and creativity. Urban art and performance artists pop out of the traffic to entertain you and feed your senses. On 13th January 2014 Puente Alto received another 60 artists from around the globe to create art for its streets. In addition, 20 Chilean mosaic artists and 20 international volunteers gathered in Puente Alto a district of Santiago on that Monday morning to form the worlds largest mosaic intervention to date. 23 nationalities across the world were are involved. The media was watching and the Mayor of Puente Alto himself, curious do see with what exactly we would be adorning this building.
We meet in Chile
I was 1 of 8 artists representing ‘Team GB’, and was overwhelmed at the prestigious names that stood around me as we were introduced to the project by Art Director, Isidora Paz Lopez. Carrie Reichardt and Gary Drostle 2 of Britain’s most respected and leading mosaic artists, Mosaizm, Sherri Warner Hunter, Stephanie Chatelet just to name a few are some of the international artists and collaborators that gather at ‘the wall’.
The mosaic intervention was to cover an area a 200m length of wall either side of the entrance to their Town Hall, their Municipal building. The collaboration from the 'international artists' entailed designing and creating mosaics celebrating the indigenous plants, flowers and animals of Chile, themed ‘Magic Garden’, the entrance facade was the 'Chilean artists' element.
So, day 1 and 60 artists were given upturned buckets to sit on and a space of 1.50m2 to mosaic with 9 days,(72 hours) to complete. ‘The wall’ as it was known, was pre drawn with flowers and plants to create continuity to such a large project and to encourage a quick start. We were invited to to add our own style to our piece to give the wall distinctive character and diversity.
Organising and planning
It was quite a remarkable site at the wall that first day, staring at my chalked up canvas, waiting for my vision to come. I had sketches that I had prepared before hand so it was inspiration for the composition, integrating my ideas with Isidora’s plan and vision that I was waiting for. It wasn’t long that the pen was in my hand and my lead started to adorn the wall. The view of 30 plus artist all busy planning composition, form and colour was ‘magical‘ itself. It still is hard to put into words how I felt that day, not nervous...just inspired and egger to prove my worth of being there.
'The wall' as it was known, Day 1
As the days passed the the colours and forms became intoxifying. Everyone was so engrossed in their bit of the jigsaw, so focused, I remember not hearing a sound.
Soon the abundance of technical support began to reveal itself, advice through open and easy discussions on composition, weight and balance. No more than 2 feet away in either directions and beyond the 'masterclass' awaited.
'Mosaizm' Mosaic collective.
Mosaic artist - Stephanie Chatelet. My neighbour and guru at the wall.
Contemplating my next move.
Slowly the mosaics evolved and blossomed into the largest display of complex technical skill, laser precision cutting and ore inspiring creativity. I was sat amongst the best in the world and I seemed to fit. We worked as a machine at that wall, ‘tacka tacka tacka’ as the Chileans call it, the noise of the nippers cutting at tiles. The noise was hypnotic. The results were breathtaking.
If you have experienced mosaic art then you will know, it is not just about smashing up some tiles. The grout gaps behave as pencil lines would in a drawing, but in mosaics they sit between and amongst colour and form. They carry your eye, create the movement and speed that your eye travels around the piece, while depicting shape of the given form.
It was inspiring, hot and thirsty work... The ‘hippee’ house my temporary home was a yoga retreat set amongst the pre Andes mountain range in Pirque, an ‘alternative’ location and complete contrast to City life. There we found calm and solace to the long days. 12 people shared this experience of living at Las Palomas, 9 nationalities and cultures shared, beers, wine and stories. The friendships made in that house were/are special ones that will last indefinately. The opportunity to chat after a hard long day about work or life cemented friendships and brought on good times, and memorable parties. The Chileans know how to party and new exactly where Las Palomas was situated.
Some of us from the 'Hippie' house.
This concreting of friendships and respect was repeated at ‘the wall’ too. As the days got long and the presentations by the artists went on into the night we truly began to appreciate the incredible talent of those around us. We spoke from the same page, shared the same beliefs, had the same blisters on our hands and dreamt the same dreams. As artists, Annapola Franceschi from Italy and Cathrine Prioli from France discussed in conversation, we were ‘a human mosaic’. What we created out of tiles of many a colours and shapes, was a reflection of the nationalities and characters who worked upon the project in Chile.
This project started on Facebook and that is where it will continue.
We’ will continue to support, advise, share our mosaic art with others and nurture future projects and exhibitions for all to be involved. Our aim is to raise the profile and awareness of this beautiful and ancient art form and continue to share it with the art to the world.
Here are 2 artists that have a few good things to say....taken from the artist presentations. More work of the 60 artists will feature in future blogs.
As one friend suggested to me before my departure, ‘go have the time of your life Steph’... well I did! Sponsors I thank you. I have learnt more than I could ever have expected.
The project in Chile is just about to be completed by the Chilean team ...so photos will follow soon.
Up coming blogs
- 'Made in Chile' 2014. An insite into my mosaic in Chile.
- 'The Magic Garden' An intervention completed, Chile.
- Paint it up in Valparaiso, Chile.
“Sixty of the world's most prolific mosaic artists flooded the Santiago, Chile, suburb of Puente Alto with a sea of coloured tiles as part of the First International Mosaic Intervention.”