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Making a mosaic: one artist's journey

Firstly I'd like to introduce myself. My name is Fran and I've been working as a full time artist for the past twenty years. Even saying that out loud make me feel like I'm getting old! I wanted to talk about my first ever job as an artist. I finished up college at the age of 22 and like most people who study art I didn't have a clue how I was going to make a living. I think I just got lucky. A friend of mine who was also a tiler and a bit arty himself was decorating a bar out in Castleknock in Dublin. He asked if I would be interested in sketching up a design for a mosaic which would go directly onto the ceiling of a bar. This sounded like a crazy idea and I loved it! So I got working, taking inspiration form Celtic mythology. Everyone loved this modern take on Irish Celtic design. So we decided to use it on the ceiling!

This was my first ever real job as an artist. A baptism of fire by all accounts. Firstly I had to learn how to mosaic. It might sound easy but there is definitely a right way and a wrong way. Luckily I'm a fast learner and took it right away. I'm sure you can imagine how awkward and bloody sore it was to mosaic onto a ceiling. Firstly the design had to be drawn out upside-down! So myself and another artist go to work making sure the image was drawn out totally symmetrical which was in-itself an achievement. The mosaic itself took a few weeks to complete. It must measure 10mts x10mts. Each tile had to be smashed into our hands with a pin hammer and then stuck up individually by hand. It was a tricky process and one I will never forget. My hands were bruised and sore for weeks. Standing on movable scaffold surrounded by tubs of adhesive and buckets of colourful broken tiles was a challenge, you have to keep your wits about you when your on site. Its so easy to get engrossed in your work and forget where you are. You could easily fall off the edge if the safety bars weren't there.

A few weeks ago I heard that Brady's in Castleknock is going to be pulled down in order to build apartments. This prompted me to pop down and have a look at this mosaic work again and also take some photos before its gone. I was surprised at how fresh the work still looks. I always liked my art work to be finished to the highest standard and things haven't changed much there. The fact that this was my very first paid job as an artist makes this very close to my heart. Its such a pity that a work of art can just be torn down like that! If I could find a way to save this first work of art that I created all those years ago I would. It would be fantastic to have a preservation order put on it. Although I must admit that it tickles me thinking one of my works was worthy of this! It just seems such a shame to lose altogether. I spoke to some of the residents living in the area and they feel so disappointed about there favorite bar and restaurant being destroyed. One resident spoke about how he gains inspiration from the art work on the ceiling and pillars, and truly feels that such an original work of art should be kept for generations to enjoy. It was quite something to listen to. Its not every day you hear someone speak with such passion about your work.

These days I specialise in mural painting. I decided to hone in on one area and get really good at it. I love transforming a black wall into another world. That's another subject I'd like to delve into next time.

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