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  • Helen McLean

'New Beginnings'


In 2021, I was commissioned to create a mosaic artwork by the Diocese of Down and Connor. When I viewed the selected location for the mosaic at the top of the stairs the first thing that struck me was the beautiful light flooding the area from the three tall windows opposite. Mosaic is married to light. The light makes it sing, bringing the vibrancy and colour of the glass to full form. A badly lit mosaic looks devoid of the unique three-dimensional property the material can possess in the right circumstances. With proper lighting, mosaic can bring a new and vibrant energy to almost any space.

To flow with the architecture and form of the curved wall that joins the two buildings, the artwork was designed on nine tall panels with carefully staggered spacing between each section.


My design, titled simply 'New Beginnings', was inspired by the tension, and ultimately hope, experienced while living during the pandemic. The movement is from dark to light. From the left as you ascend the stairs the panels move from the dark velvety blues of the night sky to the vibrant gold of the rising sun, into the purple pinks of a new day.


Against a dark sky backdrop a figure stands alone in the second of the nine panels. Neither male nor female it represents the viewer reflecting on the future, gazing towards the sun. The sun is a ball of vibrant gold, full of optimism. Beyond the sun on the horizon is a little boat, the symbol of a new chapter, to be filled with hope to carry us on our journey through any challenges to come.


With the artwork recently installed on site, the above video was taken with a phone camera, after dark, but I hope it serves to give you an idea of the of the three-dimensional properties mosaic can create.

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