t h r e e t r e e s
Three Trees planted beside streams of living water depicts the deep roots of the believer that plants themselves in the word of God, growing deeper with the presence of God’s word washing over their life, into their life, through their life and in turn overflowing as living water into others’ lives.
The Three Trees Mosaic is approx. 110cm high x approx. 170cm wide. It is purposely a triptych representational of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. It is constructed from Smalti glass, opaque and transparent glass, mirror, tiles and coloured stones. When the theme of trees was established for this work project, Australian ghost gums, my favorite tree, became my subject matter. Vincent Van Gogh was also showing in Melbourne, and since some of my favorite works of his were not in the exhibition, he too would form part of the design aspects of the final work. This evolved into the work once the sticking down of the materials begun. First the tree trunks, then work on the glass shards for leaves and river began, then the ground, river and tree leaves in Smalti followed and finally the sky.
Once the concept had been established and I had drawn up the design for this mosaic, I was apprehensive of beginning the project. I had only made one Mosaic (ever) in preparation for this project earlier in the year, but once we got started laying out rough colour placements, it was easier to begin transferring and sticking down the tiles for the final project. I cannot thank the students and staff that helped on this project enough. Thank you!
Through using grout to attach all the tiles it became more of a cathartic experience for me regardless of the size of the work. The various different materials behaved with the grout, used to stick them down, in different ways. Smalti, with its naturally irregular tendencies, could be cut and manipulated to fit just about anywhere. Its duller, less reflective finish allowing each colour to vibrantly stand out. Using tile was the most difficult. It needed the most attention to safety when cutting, but also was the least attractive and desirable material to work with. It had to be grouted and placed quickly as the tile absorbed the moisture in the grout like a sponge, drying out the grout. The glass stones in the river, on the other hand allowed some flexibility as they were laid down as you could slide them into place or remove them easily if they didn’t quite fit. There was this huge contrast between these ugly weirdly cut grey tiles for the trees and the beautifully coloured blue river stones. The blue glass stones look great, in their solid, hardened structure. They didn’t absorb moisture from the grout like the tiles did.
It got me thinking. It’s like our lives and where and how we plant ourselves. Are we focused on an agenda so we are seen a certain way? Like the blue river stones? Sure they look good, but they didn’t absorb anything, they move about and can be displaced easily. Whereas the tiles, with their sharp angular shapes, as soon as it came in contact with the grout, it leached water straight out of it. Wherever it was placed it stuck solid each time. I want my faith to be like the tile. Planted by streams of living water. Drawing up the living water to over flowing. But the tile is only a small part of the bigger picture. It can’t perform its ultimate function as a single entity. The glass blue river stone alone is beautiful, but hard. It doesn’t leach water out of anything. It represents keeping up appearances or hardened by hurt which can stop us from wanting to know God more or even if we can trust him. If it is planted in a stream of living water, can it take anything in? It is a solid individual entity. It looks great in the river, but most of the flow of the river, flows around and away from the blue stones. But it remains in the bigger picture. Maybe we contain both entities in our journey depending on life experiences?
As the final work was grouted with black grout to mimic stained glass windows, the tiles leached all the fluid they could again, reminding me that no matter what stuff consumes us in our journeys, covering us up from seeing our purpose and potential, changing our direction, sometimes causing hardness, we can still be immersed in and absorbing God’s word in preparation for what’s next. The rubbing back of the black grout and as it dried further, scraping the black off the tops of the different surfaces in the artwork to reveal the beauty of each tile and pieces of glass underneath, reminded me of God’s transformation from pieces of brokenness into the full picture only he can see.