An extraordinary mosaic is being created in the accessible toilets currently being built at Camborne Contemporary Crafts Hub.
Spanning more than ten walls and reaching from floor to ceiling, it celebrates the natural, social and industrial heritage of Camborne by charting the course of the Red River. Rising from springs near Troon, the river is about eight miles in length and is named after the mineral deposits associated with tin mining in the Tuckingmill, Pool and Camborne areas.
Local resident Alec Rice is leading on the remarkable project which combines his exceptional talents as a mosaic artist with contributions from the local community and Crafts Hub students.
The story of the Red River’s journey is depicted in a wide range of images that include symbols from the periodic table of elements, a diaspora tree to reflect the spread of mining jobs across the world, industrial references to businesses like Holman’s and the Bickford factory, balmaidens, a Trevithick steam engine and flora and fauna native to the river.
There are also ceramic reliefs of mermaids, dogs, Godrevy lighthouse, Stargazey pie and other Cornish features.
Alec Rice is a largely self-taught artist who has studied the highly individualised work of Catalan architect and designer Antoni Gaudi and the imaginative vitality of Austrian visual artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser. Creating mosaics is a hobby he fits around his full-time job as an area housing manager.
“My wife showed people photos of mosaics I’ve created in my garden and for friends whilst she was here on a course,” said Alec. “That led to me being contacted to see if I’d be interested in leading on the project here.
“It’s an amazing challenge and one that I’m happy to spend every spare hour on. Obviously, a lot of time is spent working in the hub but our kitchen table at home is also being used – thankfully my wife is very patient!
“Recycled material is sourced as much as possible and there are lots of discoveries for people to make when looking at the many stories the mosaic tells. I’m particularly pleased to say that there is more of an emphasis on the role women have played in our local history than is usually the case too – balmaidens, for example, and the ladies who did the clothes dying at Tuckingmill.”
Award-winning glass and ceramics artist and tutor Jane Smith, one of the hub’s two founding directors, is delighted with progress.
“We’re over the moon with how it’s coming on and people dropping in during our recent open day have been similarly wowed,” she said. “It creates conversations and the fact that our local community and students have also been involved makes it particularly special.
“Alec is doing a fantastic job and we’re very proud to be showcasing such an amazing piece of art that celebrates everything we are aiming to achieve.”
Located in the Donald Thomas Centre, which is undergoing complete refurbishment, the hub specialises in warm glass, ceramics and small metal / jewellery craft making.
The Camborne Contemporary Crafts Hub is run by Create CIC and is one of eleven projects to be awarded a total of £23.7m in Government funding through its Town Deal initiative.