"Farewell, but not forever!"
Early in 2016 I submitted a proposal for a mosaic for the exhibition In All its Glory at Chester Cathedral. Fortunately I was chosen, alongside five other mosaicists, to represent BAMM (British Association for Modern Mosaic). Exhibiting artists were asked to create a piece of work in response to the cathedral itself, so I began by spending a day there drawing and taking photographs.
There are some very fine Victorian mosaics in Chester Cathedral:
The high altar contains a Venetian glass mosaic of the Last Supper by Salviati from 1876
The St Erasmus Chapel also contains a Salviati mosaic (1879) dedicated to the memory of railroad contractor Thomas Brassey (1805-70) and his wife Maria Farringdon Harrison (d.1877)
In the nave there are marble mosaics depicting the patriarchs and prophets, Abraham, Moses, David and Elijah, designed by J. R. Clayton of Clayton and Bell and executed by Burke & Co. (1883-6)
Inspired by the angels that inhabit every corner of the cathedral, depicted in mosaic, stone and stained glass, I decided to create a mosaic angel for the exhibition. My other inspiration was The Dream of Gerontius, the epic poem by Blessed John Henry Newman, which inspired Elgar's oratorio. My mosaic depicts the moment that the Angel leaves Gerontius with the words "Farewell, but not forever!" My aim was to express the ethereal quality of this supernatural being.
The completed mosaic has a diameter of 60cm and is made of Italian vitreous glass in a variety of finishes/effects, white gold smalti by Orsoni of Venice and other glass embellishments. It will be installed in St Thomas of Canterbury Church, Chester.