The Dolphin Lane Heritage Mosaic Project was the creation of a large, and inspiring, themed mosaic for a public space in the centre of Boston.
Boston has a fascinating and frequently overlooked history. Legacies of the rich heritage story of the town are still evident today, featuring fine architecture from the medieval, Georgian and Victorian eras. The medieval period saw the rise of Boston as a major port, second only to London, and the construction of the impressive St. Botolph’s Church, known as ‘the Stump’. Trading with towns and cities through the North and Baltic Seas, it became part of the thriving Hanseatic League.
Transported, Heritage Lincolnshire and Boston Borough Council commissioned (via National Lottery Heritage Fund’s Townscape Heritage Initiative) artist Karen Francesca to work with residents to create a new spectacular mosaic artwork on Dolphin Lane and develop the Boston School of Mosaic, a space for people to come together and learn skills in mosaic making.
Dolphin Lane sits at the heart of the town, one of several routes to the market place established in medieval period.
The site itself measures approximately 6 meters by 6 meters and comprises of three walls.
The aim of the project was to not only teach participants making skills but to also to celebrate heritage, make more people aware of Boston’s rich and unique history, engaging and connecting to long standing residents, more recent European nationals as well as visitors, as Boston continues to develop a visitor offer, with the growing public art collection a central element.
In the first phase of this project, Karen visited Boston groups and venues to talk about the project, identify themes and stories and work with them to make some small mosaic sections.
In the workshops we explored people’s personal and family stories, and we asked participants to bring photos for this. We looked at some history and heritage stories, thought about the European context, cultural connections and make artworks/ collage/ texts.
Workshops were an experience of mosaic making, handling materials and looking at examples of ours and others work. Small mosaic sections were made on fibre glass netting. We also talked about the printed ceramic aspect and discuss design/ colour/ form.
Over the period of public workshops, the project worked with groups for the elderly, the homeless, social prescribing, the Haven High language school, and many more over the last year.
The installation completed on Monday 17th October 2022 and we’re so pleased with the beautiful transformation on the previously disused courtyard and with all the positive comments we’ve received.
The new public artwork reflects local community and cultural groups, who feature in the ‘stained glass windows’ design of the mosaic. The artwork also features the unique landscapes and habitats of this area, detailing the flora and fauna of Boston and its surrounds.
In community outreach sessions, participants have reflected on how they feel about themselves in relation to changing times and Boston’s stories of migration. The mosaic also includes reference to Boston’s Pilgrim history, and ceramic ‘beads’ made that acknowledge the Wampum bead.
The courtyard temporarily became an artwork space and feature changing paste-up exhibitions that explored Boston’s history.
Of the project, Karen Francesca said ‘The quality of the interactions we have in working with local people in Boston has been remarkable. The personalised ceramic tiles we make include the names of loved ones, someone lost, a phrase about the world, or a meaningful pattern.
They crystallise feelings and provide an opportunity for their expression no matter how briefly, and we cannot know how frequently these opportunities arise.
It’s the overlooked parts of the town like this which, like any parts of us when neglected, impact overall. By nurturing the space, bringing it to life with plants, and through the telling of stories, subjective histories, we hope to increase both interest and empathy in public space, thus building ‘social architecture.’ ’
The central piece includes a memorial to Lilija, a young girl tragically murdered in Boston in 2022, which sits alongside the Baltic symbol of unity and the almond areole asks us to consider the experience of the indigenous people of America on the arrival of the pilgrims, and how their lives were changed for ever. The corn represents the greatest treasures encountered on arrival in 1600s Americas by Europeans – the bounty of native food crops. Corn was first cultivated by Indigenous Americans over 10,000 years ago along with beans and squash and is one of the world’s most important crops – responsible for roughly six percent of human calorie intake.
Two medieval ‘stained-glass windows’ inspired mosaics feature in the design.
These windows are created from hundreds of ceramic tiles made with Boston people. The windows mounted on the brick wall depict the rich and changing shape of the landscapes of this area and its wildlife, including the work of RSPB. Frampton Marsh is only 2 miles outside Boston. The flooded salt and fresh water marshes create unique habitats that are amazing to witness at any time of year.
The opposite windows represent a reverence for social connection, which is more important to our health and wellbeing than anything else. In this mosaic we are focusing on those who advocate and support. It covers Boston’s maritime history, agricultural industries, and more modern cultural diversity.
Everyone is invited to visit the site and whilst there, there are many wonderful locally run businesses in the Lane to explore.
Discover the project in further detail on the Boston School of Mosaic’s social media:
The Dolphin Lane Project is made possible thanks to Boston Townscape Heritage Project, Heritage Lincolnshire, National Lottery Heritage Fund, Boston Borough Council, Asda Foundation, Fydell House, Laticrete UK, Smartmove Hotels, Arts Council England and Transported.