Glasgow Lives: Zoe, 27, Mount Florida, UI-UX Designer and Ralph, 11

By Elaine Livingstone

I've always been in love with the tiles in the Glasgow tenement closes. I'm from Dunblane and when I moved here, I found Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s Art Nouveau design and the architecture of Glasgow really striking. Whenever I was out and about, I started taking photographs of tenement tiles if I came across them.

Then I decided that I wanted to do something creative with my pictures of the tiles. I started reproducing digital illustrations of them on the computer and it looked okay. The original tiles themselves are all handcrafted, they've all got their inherent uniqueness, so I found the digital design was too graphic and too uniform and not doing them justice. I wanted to find a way to capture the individuality of each tile.

The tiles were on my mind when I ripped up my linoleum kitchen floor and started to hack away at it and cut it out, so I was inspired to learn lino printing to try and reproduce them that way. With lino printing, every single stamp is hand pressed and every single time you do it, it looks slightly different, so in that sense, each one is unique.

When I made the first lino print, it was too big and didn’t work. It wasn’t an art piece yet, it was a work in progress, but when I started to make them smaller than an actual tile, which is really difficult because it's very intricate, it worked, and I gradually got better at it.

I sell original lino cuts and reproduction prints of the tiles. I've replicated maybe about 12 tile designs so far, which isn't very many, considering I’ve taken about 1000 photos of the tiles I’ve found, but it takes time to draw them, cut the detail and stamp it out but I really enjoy it. It was amazing during lockdown to have something that kept me busy. I've challenged myself to reproduce four designs per area of Glasgow, but I've only been taking tile photos in the south side this year. Realistically I think it will take another 2 years to make 4 tiles of each area, but I’ll get through it.

It's a slow and calming process and I feel it's a good representation and tribute to how the tiles were originally handcrafted, I felt it was very important to capture that when I was making an artwork of them. I've considered looking at how I could potentially design and make tiles too. But that's for the future.

For more information, head to tenetiles or follow @tenetiles on Instagram


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