Teignmouth: The Town Of Mosaics

APPROACH Teignmouth by road and you are reminded that this is the “Gem of South Devon”. Always effervescent, the resort has been tickled by a magic wand and now aspires to the title of Devon’s mosaic capital. Varying from dinner plate size to extensive murals, the large collection has become a year-round attraction for visitors, beguiled by mosaic’s unique qualities. Families enjoy a discovery trail leaflet and search out a series of circular plaques highlighting local fish and birds.

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Undisputed Queen of Mosaics is Michelle Greenwood Brown, a Devon Guild of Craftsmen member who grew up in the resort and is a well-established full-time artist. A key player at TAAG Centre (Teignmouth Arts Action Group) in Northumberland Place where she runs workshops, Michelle was engaged by Teignbridge Council as lead g artist for a community project to include the transformation of an ugly concrete tub used only for a Christmas tree. Local people created individual panels which were applied to the tub, an unofficial memorial to a recently deceased councillor. The project had a triumphant conclusion with a well-attended public unveiling by the councillor’s two sons. With its eye-popping jacket and new name HUB, it is a centrepiece for the newly established River Beach and Arts Quarter.

An award winning artist using dichroic glass, Michelle is equally content to recycle broken crockery, encouraging her pupils to use a variety of materials. Five years ago an ugly underpass below the busy road cutting through the town was transformed when Michelle worked with children from five local schools to design and complete 10 large panels of local features. It is a companion to a similar scheme in nearby Pellew Arcade created by Teignmouth Community College students several years earlier. Miraculously, both displays have stayed virtually graffiti-free.

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Across the river, Shaldon Primary School commissioned Michelle to provide a set of mosaic panels for the exterior of their new buildings in 2013. Individual mosaics crop up as house name plates and decorative garden items, the makers almost certainly those inspired by attending Michelle’s classes. A small housing development at the top of Mill Lane in the densely populated area of west Teignmouth gave rise to a professional mural made by Opus Mosaic Gallery, Exeter. Designed by Andrew Stacey working with pupils of the nearby primary school, it reflects the characteristics of the estuary and hinterland. Teignmouth’s latest incarnation is glowing ever-brighter as it rockets along the Art Axis.

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