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Elaine M. Goodwin and retrospective at RAMM
Vase with three birds
SWAC Trustee Alan Bourne welcomes visitors and introduces Trustee Ann Jones
Vote of thanks to Elaine M. Goodwin by Jo Hawkins - Friends of RAMM
SWAc Academician Dr Alan Cotton opens the exhibition on the Friday
Elaine M. Goodwin book signing
RAMM Gallery Elaine M Goodwin Retrospective
Elaine M. Goodwin

The 2019 SWAC Drecki lecture* presented by the distinguished mosaic artist Elaine. M. Goodwin A welcoming glass of fine white Burgundy was offered to everyone who crowded through the garden entrance of the Royal Albert Memorial Museum and Art Gallery Exeter on the evening of Wednesday 10th April 2019.

The wine was a gift from our guest speaker Elaine Goodwin and brought over by her from the village of Couches in France where she now lives and has her own art gallery. The wine is specially bottled for her in a nearby vineyard and is a mark of the high esteem in which she is held by the community there.

At seven pm we all walked through to the spacious art gallery. The gallery had already been prepared by the industrious museum staff with rows of chairs, and at the far end, a large projector screen and a small stage and lectern. Lighting and sound were all perfect and the chairs were quickly filled in eager anticipation of the lecture by an enthusiastic capacity audience.

Alan Bourne introduced the events of the evening by giving a brief resume of the origins of the Drecki Memorial Lecture and the marvellous painter, philanthropist and human being Zbigniew Drecki, whose name we honour in this annual event.

(Search the SWAC website for ‘A personal recollection of Zbigniew Drecki’ by David Bazell for more information about this remarkable man.)

It was then my turn to introduce my dear friend Elaine. I spoke briefly about her fascinating artistic journey from BA honours graduate of Exeter College of Art and Design to the renowned world mosaic artist, author and teacher that she is today.

In 2010 she received a BA Hons Doctorate from Exeter University for her outstanding contribution to the world of art. She was also made an Honorary Fellow from the College of Humanities at the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies. She is a founder member of the British Association of Modern Mosaic and a proud member of the prestigious Chelsea Arts Club in London.

Elaine has lived in India, Marrakech, and Exeter and now in France, where she has her new home and art gallery. She has travelled extensively throughout Europe and North Africa.

During her illustrated lecture, she took us on a marvellous journey of her life in art and her involvement with mosaics.

So, what was the initial inspiration which led to this lifelong romance with mosaic? A chance visit way back in 1974 to the second century AD Roman Villa of Italica near Seville in Southern Spain and witnessing her young son running across a carpet of small pieces of stone and marble put together to embellish the ground like a carpet and Bingo! A life changing moment – one of several in her long and illustrious career, but arguably the most important.

Few books were available at the time and no art colleges in England were teaching such an ‘ancient craft’.

So began a long journey to discover all there was to know about mosaics. The materials, the tools, the techniques and by extensive travel witnessing first hand ancient mosaics from previous periods and cultures. Elaine gathers her mosaic pieces (tesserae) from an old family business in Ravenna, glass (‘smalti’) from Murano and marble from Carrara.

Her first forays into the medium were initially explorative and decorative but she quickly realised the unique and intrinsic qualities of the small units of stone, marble, gold and glass and how they could be arranged to create a very real three dimensional presence to catch and reflect the natural light.

With this realisation … another life changing moment … so began her fascinating and ongoing ‘journey to light’. She had found her voice within mosaic and some of the answers to some of the deeper philosophical questions of life She explained the stages in this life long process from pots and vases, trees, vines, the human form (he and she), water and light, and the deeper philosophical significance of windows (looking through) and doors (passing through).

Elaine commented on the slow creative process of mosaic making, of selecting materials, the cutting and careful placing of the tesserae, allowing space and time for free flowing thought, questions and answers. A visit to the mosaic walls of the basilica of San Vitale in Ravenna was another life changing moment when she observed that the natural light flooding into the building changed the pictorial reality of the mosaics on display to surfaces of pure light. She had learned that mosaic is a medium of expression like no other, involving the careful juxtaposition of small facets of light and colour and where the whole is more than just the sum of its parts.

A sincere vote of thanks was given by Jo Hawkins on behalf of the Friends of RAMM and this brought a superb evening to a close.

Our thanks to all our visitors and well done to all those members of RAMM and SWAC who helped in any way to make this event such a success.

If you have not yet visited Elaine’s remarkable exhibition I strongly recommend that you do so before it finishes on 23rd June 2019.

The lavishly illustrated exhibition catalogue ‘Journeying to Light – A Retrospective’ can be purchased from the Royal Albert Memorial Museum Exeter 01392 265888 and for any further enquiries you may have about Elaine’s work and prices.

On the following Friday, Dr Alan Cotton was invited by the City Council representative to officially open the exhibition which he did with his usual humour and sincerity. Both Elaine and Alan spoke entertainingly and affectionately about the event – another exciting partnership between SWAC and the Friends of RAMM.

Ann Jones (Ann L Roe. Hon SWAc)

Photos: Elaine Goodwin; Alan Jones.

*The Annual Drecki Lecture is a collaboration between SWAc and the Friends of RAMM.

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