Creating a timeline history of Newbury

In April 2004 I was invited to submit a proposal for a large mosaic, to be situated outside, and depicting the history of Newbury in West Berkshire and involving as many of the townspeople as would like to take part. In May, my proposal was selected from the shortlist and I began the research part of the process.

This was an ambitious project with a tight timescale of only one year. However, outside of the brief, I was given a great deal of latitude in terms of content.

In a sense, this was quite difficult, as, relatively speaking, not much has been written about Newbury, so in addition to published sources I had to rely on independent websites, verbal information, interviews and so on. I elected to start at the Domesday book in which the area that Newbury is situated is mentioned in an official document for the first time.

For technique, I planned to use Venetian glass, an ancient material used in many of the great mosaics in Italy. As a community project that would involve 'non-artists', I also had to devise a method where others could take part, but to retain the bulk of decision making process for myself. This was achieved through an industrial computer controlled milling and machining process, which fixed the drawing elements and composition. I am eternally grateful to Delcam UK for their assistance in this process.

I would also like to thank Vodafone and Greenham Common Trust for contributing substantial funds; to some 4000 people, young and old, who participated in the building phase and financed the project through their own generous donations; thanks to Jonny Diorio, my erstwhile assistant and sidekick without whom it would never have been finished on time; and lastly and perhaps most importantly, none of this would have been possible without the vision, foresight and hard work of Mike Rodger, Mayor or Newbury, 2004-2005.

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