Star Map

Engraved stained glass applique

This piece was commissioned by the National Trust for a property called Mottisfont Abbey which is located near Southampton. The project was a temporary sculpture trail with 12 artworks hidden around the extensive grounds.

I was commissioned to make an artwork which was to be hung above the stream which runs close to the house. The brief mentioned that Mottisfont Abbey was founded around a spring and water is still an important element of the site. I took this fact along with the theme – stars – and combined it with my current passion, maps to create a design based on a star map of the constellation Aquarius.

The major stars in the constellation are represented with glass that corresponds to their actual colour. For example the star Situla has an orange hue and different pieces of orange glass have been used to create a representation of this star. Fainter stars that surround the constellation have been shown by setting marbles within the mosaic. Some have been surrounded with a spiral pattern representing the coming together of gases during the formation of stars. One of the stars in the constellation – Eta Aquarii – is spinning so fast that it is flattened at the poles and bulges around its equator. The spaces between the stars – the dark night sky – has been filled with a wavy pattern of blue, green, turquoise and purple glass to further express the watery theme. There are also several nebulae in this area of the sky and they have been represented in their actual positions on the map. Nebulae are vast structures made up of billions of stars and clouds of dust and gas, but because of the huge distance between us and them, they appear as delicate, faint objects in the night sky – their insubstantial nature has been shown here through glass engraving. This piece has been exhibited as several shows including ‘par-al-lax’ – a group exhibition held at the Mile End gallery in 2014.

This piece has now been converted into a lightbox and will shortly be installed in the Howard Centre in Welwyn Garden City.

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