Ceramicist says ‘aloe’ with tree mosaic

Lynne Gadd–Claxton

PORT Elizabeth ceramicist Lynnley Watson’s latest creation of a mosaic masterpiece welcomes visitors to the serene Gardenview Guest House in Walmer.

Earlier this year, Watson was commissioned by Richard and Edith Buchanan to create a mosaic for the upmarket accommodation and conference centre – a venue which last week hosted a multimedia exhibition of work by several Eastern Cape artists.

But the aloe tree mosaic proved more challenging than Watson anticipated: “I thought it would take six weeks but it took six months as I had to stop and start, trying to juggle work for exhibitions with doing the mosaic. I loved doing it though.”

The ceramicist wanted her grand creation to match the tastefully furnished guest house with its neutral palette.

“The main difficulty materialised because I felt it was important to fit in with the ethos of the guest house,” Watson said. “I had difficulty finding colours that would work as I wanted to create a sense of volume and depth.

“There really are 50 shades of grey – and not many available to buy,” she quipped. Watson made some of her own tiles and formulated the colours she needed.

The mosaic incorporated her fine art and ceramics background with her focus on detail, such as honeysuckle birds enjoying the nectar from the aloe’s tubular flower or the plumed seeds of a dandelion blowing in a breeze.

Her use of colour creates a sense of depth with the landscape stretching to infinity. Watson used pebbles and rock to create the layers of soil, with fossilised rock embedded in the piece.

Watson had seldom explored mosaic creations before she was commissioned by the guest house. She has many talents including pottery, sculpture, painting and photography – her photographs are exhibited at Learn Photography’s exhibition at ArtEC Gallery in Central, which ends today.

Watson was selected as a finalist in the Brett Kebble Art Award in 2003-2005, she participated in the Nelson Mandela Art Museum Exhibition in the Netherlands in 2005, and, in 2006, she was a finalist in the Nelson Mandela Art Museum Biennale Exhibition and Award.

In 2010, Watson was the recipient of the Award of Excellence at the Ceramics South Africa regional exhibition.

She is assisting in establishing a ceramic studio at the Keiskamma Art Project in Hamburg.

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