Celtic Sun sculpture 2012 – 2019

This was a challenging job on a number of levels. I was commissioned to create a mosaic with a Celtic theme in 2012. In consultation with the client, we agreed on a sculptural approach. The client was after a symbol of wealth (with Celtic references) and I began researching Celtic culture. So much of what we now think of as Celtic culture is supposition – they didn’t write stuff down, so much of what we think we know is second-hand Roman references and such like. We do have many artifacts from the ancient Celts and I decided to focus on Celtic knots as they translate well into mosaic. To create a wealth symbol I chose the sun. ‘Make hay while the sun shines’ indicated to me the value of the sun and its role in wealth creation. This led to the spherical form depicting the sun and the idea to cover the sphere with a continuous Celtic knot.

The Celtic Sun sculpture is a water-proofed ferro-cement skin over a steel frame.  The cement sphere is covered by hand-cut, glazed ceramic wall tiles, with some gold enamel. It is installed onto a partially in-ground concrete plinth and secured firmly to it. An experience that was both joyful and fraught was driving behind the truck carrying this 2m diameter sphere to its new home.

Making the sphere was the first challenge. With the assistance of Mark Fraser at BRF Engineering, I designed a cradle to hold the metal frame of a sphere, which would later be covered in ferro-cement. I added a curved screeding bar to the cradle’s axle, which could be rotated around the sphere to screed the ferro-cement into a near perfect sphere. So far so good. Next challenge was to translate a design on paper to the curved surface of the sphere. Not easy but I got that done too. I realised I would have to create a curved section of the sphere on which to place the cut tiles, essentially creating curved mosaic panels that would fit nicely on the sphere. I did this by taking a plaster cast of a section of the finished concrete sphere and using that to guide the tile cutting. There were various reasons why it took so long to finish the work but eventually the finished sphere was loaded onto a truck and delivered to the site. I installed the Celtic Sun sculpture in December 2019.