Every time her husband went away adventuring, Daryl Lynne Wood finally had some time to tackle a big mosaic project.
She was just starting a classical portrait of Jesus Christ knocking at the door when Bruce Wood, her husband, got in a near fatal accident in Mexico.
After a year and a half in the hospital at Bruce’s side, the two returned home and Wood started on the mosaic again, but this time it had a whole different meaning.
“That’s what I was thinking about all the time that I was putting these little pieces together in the mosaic was how every piece matters, every person in a community, when they come together, makes a huge difference,” she said.
She started a project for the United Church which grew to be a thank you to the entire community for their support while Bruce was in the hospital.
Wood said she was flooded with sympathy cards and friends would drive down from Campbell River to Vancouver just for the day to visit.
“It was an incredible experience of community,” she said.
The mosaic was recently installed in the United Church. They are hosting a dedication ceremony on Sunday, June 11 at the 10 a.m. service.
‘To me all (the image is) talking about is opening your heart,” she said. “Opening your heart to understanding, in the biblical sense you are supposed to be opening your heart to God, letting God in, so that you can have this relationship with God of loving and being loved, and loving your neighbour, loving other people.”
Wood first fell in love with the mosaics while she was travelling in Italy. Often floor to ceiling, or in domes of cathedrals, Wood said that the 2,000 year old pieces were so detailed they looked like paintings.
She started asking questions and was directed to Orsoni where they create smalti, the hand-cut glass often used to create mosaics.
From there she was hooked. Upon returning to Campbell River, she set aside her paint brush, dove into creating mosaics, ordering her supplies directly from Italy, reading books and joining mosaic communities online.
The first piece she created was a portrait of her oldest daughter. A friend she had made in the online mosaic community encouraged her to send it to be considered for the Society of American Mosaic Artists conference exhibition.
Though she says she isn’t very competitive, she sent in a photo of the piece, looking for assurance that she was on the right track.
“I thought if I do my best shot and it’s accepted that must mean I’m starting to know something,” she said.
Her work was one of around 40 or 50 pieces that was accepted.
“I was so overwhelmed that my work would be accepted that I was too nervous to go myself,” she said. “So I sent my work and I wouldn’t go.”
But she quickly came to realize that the modern mosaic movement was very young and that many artists were in the same boat as her, learning and experimenting.
So for many years after that Wood travelled to conferences around the United States as well as Europe showing her art and learning from others.
“I would go to conferences and be so surrounded by people interested in this medium and then I would come home and I wouldn’t know anybody,” she said. “Without the Internet and without going to these conferences it would be just me trying to learn on my own.”
Wood mostly does modern art. She likes to experiment. Her house and garden are full of pieces she has done and her friends know to bring her the interesting materials that they have accidentally broken, like crystal vases and china.
“Any jewelry I have I usually end up cutting it up,” she said with a laugh.
The mosaics on display in her cottage studio, as well as in her house, feature everything from pebbles found on the beach, to glass layered with real gold to bent forks and spoons.
“I love to see what happens,” she said.
Her inspiration comes from all around her and there is often meaning behind the materials that she chooses to use.
“The fun of mosaics is to have all of your materials around you and then plan,” she said. “The materials become part of the process as your working. It’s not pre-determined because as you’re working you’re thinking oh now I need this texture or this colour.”
A trip to the Grand Canyon inspired a mosaic featuring shoe prints baked in the sand, a trip to India lead to a portrait of a colourfully dressed woman carrying a jug amid swirling dust.
A set of three wave like figures were shaped out of Plexiglas to look like nacho chips, one of Wood’s favourite snacks. Her snorkeling adventures inspired the colours she used to complete that project.
For the portrait of her youngest daughter, she used china she collected from all over the world, because her daughter likes to travel.
In other pieces she incorporates movement.
A kelp mosaic she did was mounted on a turn table while it was on exhibit in Europe and one of her pieces, called Open Ended Conversation, is meant to hang from the ceiling and turn with the breeze.
Wood also considers what the piece will look like in the light.
“Mosaics really live with the light,” she said.
Since her husband’s accident, Wood is more focused on giving back to the community than competing.
And she has a new project on the go for another church in the area as well as a few other projects she has lined up after that.