News And Articles

The Royal Gazette
Article published Jan. 26, 2007

Mural ushers in sea-change at Pompano!
WITH more than 20 fish and coral ranging in size from four inches to two feet, a 64-foot mosaic mural adorning the wall of Pompano Beach Club's Coral Reef Café is truly a feat of artistic ingenuity that took New York artist Doreen Mastandrea more than a year to complete. In an interview with the Mid-Ocean News from her home in the Marblehead, Massachusetts, Ms Mastandrea said the design was a collaboration between herself and the owners of Pompano, including Aimee Southworth, who owns a home in the same area as the artist. She said when the property was revamped in 2005, the owners wanted a mural for the café and approached Ms Mastandrea, whom they had worked with before. She said Ms Southworth had very clear ideas about what she wanted to do and it was just a matter of figuring out how best to achieve the desired effect.

Sticking to the ancient mosaics found in Italy and Turkey, she sometimes had to rely on tweezers to pick up the tiniest pieces of tile, made from traditional glass. The final product represents the fish and coral found outside the hotel. "We sort of brought the outside inside," Ms Mastandrea says with a laugh. The most time-consuming part of the project were the fish which were originally done on mesh sheets with tiny bits of vitreous glass - imported from Italy and China. "The fish were individually done in my studio and Aimee's dining room and the glass was nipped into tiny shapes and then glued onto the mesh as the various fish," she explained. "First I drew all of the fish images and coloured them in so we could have a template to put under the mesh showing us how to make the fish and what colours to use," she said. While she made most of the 20 fish and coral, another owner, Sandy Lamb and Ms Southworth also worked on pieces, including the terrific brain coral scene.

How did she get the fish to Bermuda?
With a laugh Ms Mastandrea said since each one was made individually on mesh, it was easy enough to transport in her suitcase.
As for the curved wall in the café, she said it never really posed a problem because the crew at the hotel were great at "making it all work." "We had a lot of helping hands when it came to installation. The background tile was shipped directly to the hotel and Tom and Larry Lamb did a great job at arranging all of the supplies to be ready to go for the time we had to install," she said, adding that she had the help of hard workers whom she considers invaluable to the overall success of the installation. "Sandy, Aimee and I worked with Sylvino and his crew for four 12-to 14-hour-days, putting the whole thing up on the wall," she said. The process of installation involved cutting the background tile in the shapes of the fish they had made in order to fit them in to the whole scene. They used a diamond bladed dremel tool and carefully sawed through the glass with great accuracy to insure that the fish would look as though they were all part of the whole, rather than bits placed individually. "I think the result was a success because most people think it was all done together as one large picture," she laughs. "The lines between the fish and the background blend perfectly well and I was impressed by how hard everyone involved worked and how well we pulled it together." It took her over a year in total to complete, but she admits there were gaps of time when she was not working on it at all.

What was the best part of the project?
"Finishing it!" she quickly adds with a laugh. "I also enjoyed learning about the different types of fish that can be seen in the waters right outside your back door and from an artistic point of view, they were absolutely beautiful in design and colour." Having worked on mosaics for about 15 years, she considered it a fun learning experience and enjoyed coming up with solutions to the various glitches along the way. "Figuring out how best to make the mural, best way to install it, etc, is different with each project and I enjoy figuring out the best way to do it," she said. However when it came to the highlight of the project, she gave credit to Bermuda's beautiful environment: "We worked in the most beautiful environment imaginable with the water right at our backs and the views were spectacular!" Before the project began, Ms Mastandrea visited Bermuda to see the site and do the necessary research on local fish, a task she said she thoroughly enjoyed because it involved snorkelling: "It was a visual feast to see all of the fish in their natural environment and the Lambs were the most gracious of hosts and made sure I did get a good feel for Bermuda. You all live in a paradise!"