Wells in Mosaic is a community project to install a beautiful piece of permanent art adjacent to the Bishop’s Barn in Wells. It will be a six-metre diameter mosaic circle in the form of a walkable map of the historic city centre, along with many artistic and informative features, which will be a legacy for all to enjoy for centuries. The mosaic will be of national significance but a project of this size and quality does not come cheap, so all donations are very much appreciated, however large or small.
It’s now approximately 7 years since the project was first conceived, and 2 years since Ruth laid the first tile on her long journey to completing the artwork. She starts at one edge and slowly works her way across the full circle, slicing it off first into one long strip and then into individual sections which are safely stored. The first strip was completed relatively quickly across the summer of 2020, but as you move across a circle the area obviously increases in size, hence many more boxes of design to build and store away. Ruth is very happy with the speed of progress and is now approx. 50% of the way through it.
Now that Ruth is at the halfway line she has started ‘construction’ of the most iconic building in the City. She explains why it’s challenging…
“Hiring an expert with a drone to capture the perfect angle for my representation of Wells Cathedral was looking like a complicated process. But then I discovered the incredible scale models of Rupert Cordeax and realised this could be my solution. However, when the cardboard model arrived through the letterbox in flat pack form, it was clear that model making on this level was far beyond me. Through a chance discussion, it transpired that our friend, Geoff Laycock, loved model making! He was hired! A few weeks later, Ian and I drove to St Albans to collect the finished construction. The detail is astounding, we are so grateful to Geoff for his skill and patience. Having the Cathedral in 3d form has allowed me to photograph the building from any angle, work with it in my design software and then refer to it as I am placing the tiles. It is without doubt the most complex part of the project to mosaic”.
The first picture in the gallery below shows Ruth explaining the process to members of the City of Wells Lions club, who visited her workshop recently to present a cheque in sponsorship of the moat-boat race quatrefoil. It also clearly shows the mid-section of the mosaic on which Ruth is currently working.
Our project continues to attract many supporters, the most famous being Michael Eavis who launched our design but we need many more to help us complete it so please help if you can. We’ll continue to add a selection of pictures here, to give you an idea of the variety and quality of completed items being safely stored until the whole moasaic is ready for installation…
DONATIONS & SPONSORSHIP
We’re 100% funded by donations, if we don’t raise the funds then it won’t happen!
We’ll keep an updated record our our fundraising in the ’tileometer’, so check back often to see how we’re progressing.
We’ve had many donations, both large and small, and we appreciate every single penny. But our latest sponsor was Richard Green, who kindly gave us two personal donations due to his interest in the project itself and his links with the Showmen’s Guild (who are represented in one of our windows, as shown in the ‘current progress’ pictures above). Richard is seen here with Wells’ Town Crier, Les Sweales.
We are very grateful for the help given to us by the following organisations…
If you’d like to help bring our mosaic to life you can make a donation via the paypal link below, visit our sponsorship page via the left-hand link, or engage with one of our events via the right-hand link
How it all began, the design, the materials and the location…
The project was born out of a much simpler idea at a meeting of Wells Lions Club way back in 2014, when a small decorative floor display for a Lions initiative was discussed. Steve suggested a much bigger project could be tackled and agreed to look at it. He came up with the idea of a walkable map created in mosaic. It soon became obvious that it was bigger than Lions could do alone, so it morphed into its own project. Steve approached Ruth, a local mosaic artist already known to him, whose considerable artistic input has developed the design into the spectacular piece of mosaic artwork proposed today. Others also joined the team and it then took us almost 6 years to complete the many formalities for a project of this size before the actual build could begin. We hope to see the physical result of all our hard work and get the mosaic in the ground sometime around 2023, but this is very much dependant on many factors, not least of which is funding.
We launched the completed design at a ‘grand unveiling’ event in November 2019, at The Swan Hotel in Wells. The largest part of the mosaic, taking up the centre of the circle, will be a walkable map of central Wells. The map itself will be to scale, and will also be orientated to match reality. Its level of definition is restricted only by the size of each individual mosaic tile, and whilst much of the map will show artistic representations of Wells’ features, some of Wells’ most prominent buildings will be represented in a classical, front-on aspect to make them stand out. Although the map is an important part of the whole design, we’ll also be including many fascinating features that expand the whole mosaic to 6 metres in diameter. A key feature will be a circle of gothic windows, each of which will contain a particular historical fact about Wells, along with a circle of quatrefoils containing pictorial representations of a variety of items directly linked to Wells, many of which you may have had no idea about! So the mosaic is not only useful as a map, it should also be extremely informative for both locals and visitors. And of course, no artwork depicting Wells would be complete without reference to swans and water, so the design will also incorporate many related features to ensure it is always seated firmly in Wells, even when being shown in photographs or discussed as a famous piece of mosaic art on the other side of the world.
With regard to location, we have looked at many possibilities since our project first began. Things may change again by the time Ruth has completed the work but our current choice, which has been agreed in principle with all parties involved, is somewhere within the green space near the bandstand. The red circle on this satellite picture gives you a rough idea.
The quality of the materials we use has a dramatic effect on the finished look and feel of the mosaic, as well as its longevity. We have therefore chosen one of the very best suppliers. The tiles, having been manufactured in France by Winckelmans for over 120 years, are fully vitrified with an extreme density of particles. This means they are immensely hard and exceptionally well suited to high impact zones in all environments – commercial or domestic, indoors or out, whilst their vitrification process makes them water and weather resistant. Available in over 30 heritage colours, the mellow palette and unglazed finish give the tiles a natural and harmonious feel. Their quality, durability and colour retention make them a favourite for professional mosaicists across the world.
MEET OUR TEAM
We rely on a network of people and a few come and go from the main team but at it’s core there are only four of us working to make the mosaic a reality…
Ruth has been passionate about the arts all her life studying them in various forms. In 2003, when she completed her first mosaic, she knew this ancient art form was to be her future. As a mosaicist, Ruth is influenced by her environment and Wells, England’s smallest city, and her home for over 45 years, provides a constant source of inspiration. Much of Ruth’s work is commission based, privately or through public art – you may remember her wonderfully elegant mosaic swan, “Arcus”, from the “Swans of Wells” event. Over the years Ruth has honed her skills, underpinned by her natural creativity. She works with a broad range of materials and techniques to produce exquisitely detailed pieces. Ruth loves every step of the creative process from developing initial concepts and ideas, through to completion of art works that will endure the tests of time.
“Wells in Mosaic is a fantastic project and one I feel hugely privileged to be designing and creating for our wonderful city.”
Ian divides his time between working in London and his office in Wells and although born in London, always longs to get back to England’s smallest City and the family home. The project has a number of areas, behind the scenes, that are not as glamorous as the finished work of art are yet just as critical to ensure the work can be completed successfully to schedule and constructed in such a way as to ensure its longevity. Ian, working with the team and utilising his experience is ensuring that everything back stage is running smoothly and supporting all aspects of the project. That’s as well as providing Ruth with copious cups of tea and general gofer duties.
“Public Art is an important aspect of any community & to be involved in this project, providing a superb heritage for Wells, is incredibly exciting.”
Chris made Wells her home over twenty years ago and it is still her favourite historic city. She brings a vast amount of knowledge to our project after many years working in the heritage sector. She also has experience of community projects, fundraising, project management, financial and business management and event organisation, so she is a valuable contributor on the team.
“As chair of Wells Civic Society, I was delighted to be able to give our complete support to this ambitious project. I believe that public art should represent contemporary design and skills as well as examples from the past, which are so well represented in Wells. I hope I can help bring this project to fruition with other members of the team and the people of Wells, for the enjoyment, and even education, of many generations of residents and visitors to Wells.”
Originally from the North East, after moving around the UK in various roles Steve found himself in Wells in 2004 and never left! First in an export job within the drinks industry that took him far and wide, he then took over the King’s Head from 2007 – 2013, when it became of the city’s most popular pubs. After leaving the pub he spent a couple of years with a DIY business, alongside refurbishing and extending his own home, then in 2016 he built The Square indoor play centre on Priory Rd and has been there ever since.
Steve has been involved in various Wells projects but Wells in Mosaic is by far the most ambitious at the moment!
“I really believe that everyone should get involved with at least one community project in the area where they live. Can you imagine a world in which every single person contributed to their community in some way? I’m passionate about bringing this unique piece of art to Wells for many future generations of locals and visitors to enjoy, not only for the mosaic itself, but hopefully as a catalyst that leads to many other public art projects”