Slowly but surely I seem to be making my way through the fabulous 5 local lady artists of the Quinta Art Collective. So far, I’ve written about ‘The unique and colourful Jessica Dunn’ and ‘The magnificent and monumental Toin Adams’. You can tell by my choice of adjectives that I was quite taken by both of them - and this time was no different.
The Collective invited me to the opening of their latest exhibition but unfortunately I couldn’t make it. A few days later, however, Andrea Bird very kindly agreed to meet me and show me around. Although we have met several times, it was nice to finally have the chance to get to sit down with her and find out more about her bright colourful artworks that, upon closer reflection, really do sparkle.
The exhibition was held in the newly opened Eleven Boutique House & Garden in the heart of Boliqueime. With the most stunning courtyard filled with olive and lemon trees, I found it quite hard to believe it was located where it was. This lovely village house has only been open a few months but is a true oasis and a beautiful and tranquil place to come and stay, or simply enjoy a drink or light lunch with friends (to find out more, please visit www.elevenboliqueime.com).
It was also the perfect place to decorate with the Quinta Art Collective’s artwork. So much so that part of me was sad that they didn’t just leave them there all the time. I particularly loved the dragonfly that was ‘flying’ just out of reach of the colourful koi fish in the pond. This buzzworthy sculpture just seemed to belong there and I was delighted to discover that it was a collaboration between metal sculptress Toin Adams and Andrea who had filled in the glass for its wonderful wings.
From figures to figures
Andrea moved to the Algarve 6 years ago from London where she worked in finance. She wanted to escape the corporate world and embrace a more peaceful and slow paced life where she would finally have time to truly explore her creative side.
Andrea calls herself a mixed media and contemporary mosaic artist and I was beginning to understand why…
Back in the UK, she had studied traditional lampwork as well as silversmithing and enjoyed making jewellery in her spare time. She visited Athens where she learned sculptural mosaics and tried her best to explain to me a technique called ‘electroforming’ that she had learned at the Birmingham School of Jewellery.
She has also been experimenting with alcohol ink which allows her to create bright colours that, like her work with melted glass, intermingle in interesting and often mesmerising ways.
Andrea brings this unique mix of talents together to create truly one of a kind pieces of artwork, including deep whirlpools of intense glistening colours as well as some, it has to be said, rather risqué mannequins.
Lacy and racy busts
She finds busts from different time periods, which give them a very distinctive and unusual shape, and proceeds to ‘dress them up’. She introduced me to Ophelia, the least racy of the bunch, who was standing in the entrance to the exhibition. Made with a mix of iridescent foils and tiles with handmade glass lampwork, she’s finished off with white and green grout which makes Ophelia look like she’s covered in lace.
Because there’s no good way to sign these figurines, Andrea has developed her own signature or symbol, which she showed me is glass melted with silver and encircled with a copper wire.
What kind of ‘A Bird’ is she?
Andrea, it probably won’t come as a big surprise to you, admitted to being a bit of a magpie. She is very attracted to anything bright and sparkly and this is very much reflected in her work. If you look carefully everything seems to shimmer (like the Algarve in the sunshine) and looks different depending on where you choose to display it and the time of day.
Throughout our chat, I listened intently to try and understand just how Andrea makes it all and eventually concluded two things. One, that it all sounds highly dangerous. What with the propane oxygen flame she uses to melt the glass and, not to mention, the electroforming which, from what I did manage to understand, is a way of coating an object of your choosing in metal - but involves both acid and electricity.
And two, that, well… maybe I don’t have to understand everything. Let's just call it Andrea’s magic.