“Home Sweet Home”

This mandala (or is it a ship’s wheel and a compass?) is still in transit to the other side of the world. It’s for my eldest niece, who recently moved into her own new house. I obviously wanted to make something beautiful for her, but while we get along really well, her style and taste are different from mine, so to make sure I’d create something she’d appreciate and enjoy, I enquired what colours and shapes she might like. But she was very busy with moving house and working and didn’t reply fast enough to my liking. So I joked with her I would just make something not too big, post it off, and if she didn’t like it, she could just throw it in the rubbish.

I don’t think she’d ever do such a thing, but I was serious! I have thrown away mosaics that I made (after letting them ‘grow on me’ for a while – or at least attempted to. Don’t want to add to landfill sites too much). Then my brother (her dad) told me he’d been helping her put up sections of “feature wallpaper” over the weekend. I asked him to send me a photo or two, and that’s when the incubation of the project took off.

I ended up naming this mosaic Oost, west, thuis best. That’s Dutch and literally translates to “East, west, at home is best”, or, in other words: “Home, Sweet Home”.

The working title had been Premonition Mandala, as I made it between the time I suspected Andrew was the cyclist on the radio news at 7:30 am on the 19th of April and the time police showed up at my door with the terrible confirmation, around 1 pm.

In those in-between hours, when my premonition was strong that Andrew might be dead but I had no way of finding out (from 8am onwards, the news reported the cyclist had died ‘on the scene’), I was so restless that the only thing I knew to do was work on a mosaic — amidst hopping online and googling how far Andrew would have been able to cycle from the ferry, arriving in Picton at around 5:45 am that morning — could it be him, how big were the chances it really was him, had the police posted any updates, etcetera. And of course by trying his phone, although I thought it would be logical that – had he still been alive – he’d be saving his battery and have his phone safely stored away to concentrate on riding his bicycle. He would surely phone me when finding his first cafe for a coffee, maybe in Blenheim.

Andrew and I were normally in constant contact throughout our days, via phone and WhatsApp. So I had also sent him a WhatsApp phone message –  just 2 days before his death, sharing this budding project with him after I knew what I would make, and the materials had started more or less magically coming together (or so it seems when an idea is developing in my head).

He liked seeing what I was up to and was always encouraging me in my mosaic endeavors. I wrote: “A photo of this little cake plate that I found at the opp-shop after thinking about making the mosaic for Clara for her new house, inspired on her “feature wallpaper”. It’s always so cool to see the materials coming together. The little bowl was already in my stash, it’s a little broken praline bowl.” Later that day, while on the phone with each other, he remarked he liked the idea and the colours. He was curious to see the end result.

Two days later, the mosaic would come together with those pieces of ceramic, plus added gold accents (gold mirror, glass beads and coloured glass marbles). I also included little twigs from my forest*) and a few pre-made, miniature tile circles and glass marbles, loosely imitating the design and colours of the wallpaper. As I was working, I also associated it with a ship’s wheel shape (Andrew was a fine sailor and had been riding the waves since he joined Sea Scouts aged 10) and with a compass and it’s wind directions.

I finished it just before the police knocked on my door at 1pm.

So, Andrew never got to see the finished piece. But I like to think he watched and helped me make it. The piece is therefore extra special to me and I’m so happy it will be hanging on my niece’s wall in The Netherlands, exuding beautiful energy.

*) No problem getting those through customs in Europe. The other way around would be a different matter: impossible!



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