The first public mosaic on the Mesa in Ashcroft was unveiled on Sunday, Jan. 6, as members of the congregation of Sage Hills Church revealed the mosaic they have been working on since early summer of 2018 and which celebrates the church.
Deacon Ken Klassen says that the church needed a sign, and that Joan Henderson (who was unable to be at the unveiling due to illness) suggested the idea of a mosaic because of her relationship with artists and designers Marina Papais and Daniel Collett at the Ashcroft HUB, where the pair have a studio, and because of all the mosaics that have gone up around the town.
“Joan felt that a mosaic sign would tie us in with the community, and show support,” says Judy Klassen. “Plus we wanted a beautiful sign.”
The mosaic on the front of the building reads “Sage Hills Church”. The church is still formally known as “Sage Hills Evangelical Free Church”, but “there wasn’t room for all the words,” says Ken, noting that the church is changing its name to the simpler one. “However, a plaque that will be going under the mosaic will identify the church’s connection with the Evangelical Free Churches of Canada.”
After Henderson brought the idea forward, it was discussed at a congregational meeting. Papais asked the congregation to think about what they wanted on the sign, and Judy did some designs, which included items such as the cross, a Bible, sunrise, and hills.
“The best thing I can do is make sure everyone has been heard,” says Papais, the project’s art director. “If it was about myself it wouldn’t be the same, it wouldn’t hit people’s hearts. I listen carefully to what people want, not what I want. It’s their ideas, and I make them work.”
“Marina helped formalize the ideas, and drew some hills,” says Collett. “Then at least eight to 10 congregants worked on the piece with Marina and I.”
Work on the mosaic started in June 2018. “It got off to a bit of a slow start,” says Ken, “but whoever could make it came and helped.” Ken was one of those people, even though he was a bit hesitant to start.
“I hesitated because I’m not an artsy person,” he admits, “and I couldn’t see myself putting pieces of glass on plywood. But I really liked what I saw around town, and I thoroughly enjoyed the process.”
Collett notes that “Lots of people don’t know they have that ability until they try. Marina is really good at bringing people in.”
Work on the mosaic was slow through the summer, but momentum began to build in the fall. “Joan spurred us on,” notes Ken. “In September she said ‘We need to get after this.’” Reuben Bond, using blueprints from Collett, created a frame out of cedar that he had brought with him when he moved from Terrace, and the pieces were assembled at the studio at the HUB before the mosaic was put in place at the church.
“It was a real community effort,” says Collett, with Papais adding “I took some artistic licence, but the rest is all them. Some people only did a bit, but they need to be recognized. The mosaics give life to the town.”