Emma Biggs and Matthew Collings
3980mm x 4380mm
Before their partnership as artists began, Matthew Collings was well known as an art critic, broadcaster, writer and painter. Emma Biggs was a leading mosaic artist. A joint interest in the history of visual art was the source of their collaboration.
Their collaborative work deals with an issue that is simple to describe but complicated to realise: making beauty with severely limited abstract means. The function of their network of diamond shapes is to order colour until it produces a structural space, one that is like observable reality, but without a recognisable image.
The title of the mosaic artwork on the redeveloped Fruit and Wool Exchange comes from a quote in Genesis about a new born baby whose hand grasps a scarlet thread.
The artists always take their titles from Genesis. Not religious sense but the book of Genesis claims to be about everything that is, ultimate origins.
The initial colour idea came from the saturated high colours of fruit, offset by the earthy colours of sheep. (The Fruit and Wool Building.)
Sheep colouring is much more varied than most people realise but it’s always clearly opposite to the saturated sheeny character of fruit colouring.
“Scarlet” also a fruit – an apple.
Italian handmade glass mosaics were selected by the artists from Smalti in their Venice factory.
Fascinatingly, the image of scarlet thread recurs throughout the Old Testament , and is considered to prophecy the Messiah. (Blood.). So we thought this “scarlet thread” Biblical image beautifully brings together appropriate themes for the location of the mosaic, like metaphors multiplying in a poem. The new found in the old. Weaving rhythms together. Continuities going on and on (thread). Colour — the most striking. Scarlet. Emma Biggs and Matthew Collings