TAMWORTH residents of all ages are invited to get creative and join in one of the town’s largest and most ambitious community arts projects at a series of workshops this half term.
Mercian Mosaic will see 1,400 individual yard-square tiles being decorated by people of all ages to create a large and striking Saxon-themed image, which will be laid out on the lower lawn of Tamworth Castle Grounds for one day only on Saturday, July 14th.
Hundreds of tiles have already been completed by willing volunteers from across the town, including from schools, church and community groups, sheltered housing schemes and art groups.
But there is plenty more work to do and around half of the tiles still need to be decorated. Anyone who would like to get involved and paint some tiles is invited to join Tamworth artist Maggie Carney at her base of operations in the former Argos unit in Ankerside Shopping Centre during a series of open community sessions during half term.
Volunteers of all ages and abilities will be given a paintbrush and set to work to help take the project to the final stages.
Sessions take place in the Ankerside Shopping Centre unit on February 21, 22 and 23 from 10am to 12pm and from 1pm to 3pm each day.
Maggie, who has created the intricate 70-yard by 20-yard mosaic design, said: “Lots of great work has been done already by hundreds of community groups, schools and individuals from across the town, but there is plenty more to do, so I’m really hoping people come and get involved next week.
“It’ll be a fun half-term activity and people will then be able to come along on July 14th to see how their individual piece fits in with all the other tiles to make one huge mosaic celebrating Tamworth’s Anglo-Saxon history.
“There are plenty of elements still to work on, and the workshops will focus on flowers, fish, butterflies, ducks, geese, squares of Anglo-Saxon patterns and some life-size figures. I’m really hoping people will help me get a large chunk of the project completed.”
Anyone who would like to take part, but is unable to attend next week, is invited to pop in and lend a hand whenever they see Maggie working away in the unit.
The striking overall design features key elements of the town’s Anglo Saxon history, incorporating its landmark buildings, rivers and people, as well as details such as Tamworth pigs, dragons, fish, the Staffordshire knot and Mercian flag.
At the centre is Tamworth’s ‘Lady of the Mercians’ Aethelflaed, who played a pivotal role in English history by building a chain of fortifications against Viking invaders throughout the Kingdom of Mercia.
Her fortification of Tamworth in 913 AD became the forerunner to Tamworth Castle. Daughter of Alfred the Great, Aethelflaed’s accession as a female ruler has been described as one of the most unique events in early medieval history.
This year marks the 1100th anniversary of Aethelflaed’s death in Tamworth and the laying of the mosaic will form part of a weekend of celebrations to mark the occasion.
Mercian Mosaic is one of several initiatives taking place as part of Arts in Unusual Spaces – a two-year scheme made possible with funding from Arts Council England to bring art to new and interesting spaces across the town.
Cllr Robert Pritchard, Deputy Leader of Tamworth Borough Council, said: “This is a great opportunity for people to take part in a truly amazing community arts project. It is quite an undertaking and I know Maggie is working almost round the clock on it, so I hope lots of people go along to lend a hand next week. It’ll make a great half-term activity for people with children of all ages who are stuck for something to do.”
Jeff Wigley, Ankerside Shopping Centre manager, said: “It’s been a delight to have Maggie at the centre as part of the Mercian Mosaic project and we’re looking forward to seeing her host the workshops during the half term holidays. The unit at Ankerside is looking fantastic, with some of the Anglo-Saxon pieces decorating the windows and walls and it’s going to be great to see the finished mosaic in the Castle Grounds this summer.”