2020, The Map Wall, The Ruins Project, Fayette County, PA, USA
Caitlin Hepworth and Marian Shapiro
Hazelbrook, NSW and Glenbrook, NSW, Australia
Australia: 80 x 100 centimeters, Tasmania: 25 x 20 centimeters
beach glass, brass and copper waste, broken jewelry, concrete pipe, coral, earthenware pieces, fire salvaged smalti and vitreous tile, glass furnace waste, glassblowers waste, horn, knitted copper wire, local stone, melted millefiori, mookaite, mosaic gold, pebbles, smalti, tiny plastic people, watch parts
In late 2019 we were invited by Rachel Sager to contribute a map of Australia to the Map Wall at The Ruins project in Pennsylvania, USA. The Ruin’s World Map project has brought mosaic artists together from around the globe, creating an international collaboration. Initially, we explored ideas around place, relocation, dislocation, immigration, and population, before beginning to research population density and cultural origins of the Australian population. During this time Australia experienced the summer of 2019/2020 and the catastrophic bushfires that ravaged our landscape and communities. Reflecting on this we felt it to be more timely and relevant to transfer our focus to the concept of a heat map which reflects the extreme temperatures that are becoming our new normal. Rather than taking the colors and zones of the heat map literally, we took them as a starting point, going from a deep dark red at the centre to a cooler yellow at the edges.
We both love to work with mixed media and enjoyed developing a palette of materials. We started this process with individual ‘Studio Raids’ where we scavenged through everything we owned searching for suitable colors, varied textures, found objects, interesting stones, etc. We brought these collections together and loosely categorized our collaborative stash into color bands. We both live in the midst of the Blue Mountains National Park so felt compelled to include some locally sourced materials. We went fossicking along a local bush track which produced a wonderful collection of rocks as well as remnants of old ceramic pipes, roof tile and local brick. Finally we added a splash of mosaic gold, hand knitted copper pods and fire salvaged materials.The original plan was for the work to be installed on a wall that had existing mosaic inclusions which overlapped with our map, and Rachel sent us a template to work on which incorporated the existing mosaics.
Our initial design worked round the inclusions and was also designed to allow us to cut it up easily into sections to be shipped to the USA for installation, which before COVID, we had planned to do ourselves. We allocated ourselves alternating sections with a larger space in between each area, so that we could work on it simultaneously. Work started in early February 2020. We worked on mesh with thinset to allow us to cut up the work for shipping. By late March, lockdown was in place, flights were suspended and borders were closed. Installation would not be possible for us then or in the near future.
Initially, Rachel kindly offered to install, however, with the amount of patching required around the previously installed elements we needed a new plan. We worked with Rachel to find a new suitable location at The Ruins where Australia could be installed in its entirety, removing the need for her to undertake extensive onsite patching and joining. Further lockdown friendly modifications were added to our process, and our side by side approach gave way to Australia revolving between our two studios, enabling us to complete our allocated sections at a safe distance from each other. Once we had finished construction, Australia was cut up into sections, registration marks applied for easy and accurate installation, and the mosaic was packed for transportation. Some ten days later the piece arrived safely at The Ruins where it was installed it with a little guidance over FaceTime.