The Tamworth 250th Mosaic, a project
of the Arts Council of Tamworth, was created in 2016 by hundreds of children and adults alongside dozens of tireless volunteers. Mural artist David Fichter, Arts Tamworth director Juno Lamb, and K. A. Brett School art teacher Melanie McBrian guided the work.Thousands of volunteer hours went into building, mounting, and grouting the mosaics, and the project received support from the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts.
According to mathematical estimates made by Brett middle schoolers, the mosaic on the left-hand side contains 21,536 pieces while the one on the right contains 22,040—a total of 43,576 pieces. Most of these were carefully cut by hand into the shapes that form the design. Incredibly, every piece was placed meticulously by an individual working in collaboration with their neighbors, friends, and fellow community members.
To begin the project, organizers asked the community what they felt should be represented in the mosaic. Scores of people sent images and ideas, and each child at the Brett School drew a picture of something they loved in Tamworth. Next, David Fichter skillfully wove many of these drawings and images into the final mosaic design. Because not everything could be included in the mosaic, every image that comprises it represents a broader concept—animals, activities, people, places: everything has multiple meanings.
Both mosaics contain images based on drawings by Brett School students; the image above is representative of many students' work, woven together. The center of the mosaic depicts Mount Chocorua and Chocorua Lake, a view familiar the world over—one even featured on a US quarter. The mountain in the top left of the mosaic is Black Snout in South Tamworth, while the composite apple and dairy farm on the top right draws inspiration from a farm at the top of Mountain Road. The church on the left of the mosaic is Saint Andrews-in-the-Valley (located in Whittier) and to the above-right is the Wonalancet Chapel. The building on the far right of the mosaic is an earlier incarnation of The Other Store, while above it and to the left is the Bradbury Jewell house, the first timber frame building in Tamworth. There is speculation that the pig in the mural is the famous animal of Tamworth lore, the pig which escaped its pen and managed to find its way to school one morning! The mural also depicts community members' enjoyment of the outdoors all year round. Depicted are springtime pursuits like the ritual harvesting of maple sap; summertime enjoyment of local lakes and rivers; harvesting the bounty in the autumn; skiing, skating and racing sled dogs in the winter.
Those depicted in the mosaic are not the “most important” people in Tamworth, or those who have made the greatest mark. Rather, this group of citizens includes people of different ages and genders, roles and positions. The group includes year-round residents as well as seasonal community members, those born in Tamworth and those hailing from elsewhere. They are business owners and laborers, farmers and hunters, writers, artists, and musicians, military veterans, public servants of many stripes, medical professionals and people of faith. This work of public arts serves to embody the spirit of Tamworth by representing the people who, by their very existence, shape its history.
If you'd like to learn more about the project, please visit the Arts Tamworth 250th Mosaic page to see a slideshow, and watch a time-lapse video of a mosaic workday.