As a child in Copeland, outside of Gloucester, NSW, Arlene Weekes ruined her first maths book because she thought it was for drawing pictures in. She has, very simply, always loved art.
Arlene and husband Bruce moved to Barraba in 2000 because they wanted to retire to a quiet place after many years of work. The couple now have a powerful artistic collaboration making stunning mosaic works. Arlene is an accomplished mosaic artist, but her increasingly ambitious works are realised with her husband Bruce’s working as her studio assistant.
Arlene’s latest work is a very large outdoor mosaic in their Linden Street garden. Arlene says, “I had a bare concrete area near my studio. It was in need of colour. I love gardening so I decided to improve the space. It’s a nice place to sit and enjoy the bird life.”
The large work is a swirling floral design on a dark blue background sited on the garden’s concrete pathway. Bruce is also making a whimsical mosaic village alongside the large work.
Arlene explains why she finds the medium of mosaic so compelling. “Mosaic is a challenge. It is a mind exercise. Taking a flat piece of tile or section of glass or crockery and creating a pleasing image or art piece. It feels satisfying to me.”
Mosaic is also physically demanding. Bruce assists by cutting tiles and mixing grout for Arlene. His interest has increased lately and he is now making the village at the edge of the garden mosaic.
Arlene was introduced to mosaic on a road trip with her sister Alison to Phillip Island. “Alison knows I love art so she booked us into a class,” says Arlene. Arlene now teaches classes herself. During Frost Over Barraba festivals Arlene and Bruce have run sell-out workshops to keen students in their local studio.
Arlene has a semi-public work installed in Barraba for anyone interested in seeing her work. A work installed on the garden wall of the Andy’s Guesthouse can be viewed from the footpath at 98 Queen Street. By Jane Harris