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Waterlines, 1989

Port Hueneme Public Library


Public Artist | Port Hueneme | Mosaics | Helle Scharling-Todd

The library was noted for its innovative integration of mosaic and architecture at the 2010 Ravenna International Contemporary Mosaic Festival.

The Port Hueneme Public Library was designed by award winning architect Scott Ellingwood, and I was commissioned to incorporate mosaics to the floor and walls of the library.

((This is an interview taken from 'Glass in Places' a book on my works)


What design or aethetics elements in Scharling-Todd’s art did you think would work well for your architecture?


Ellinwood: I was impressed by the international quality and sophistication of her art. The way her work resonated with and amplified the architecture was striking. She had shown me a public plaza she had done in Denmark using glass mosaics. As we were to have a generous entry plaza for the library, so we chose to go with that concept.


Why did you chose mosaics for the artistic medium?


Ellinwood: The brillant color spectrum, the durability, and endless design possibilities. Scharling-Todd was able to understand the oceanic inspiration for the architectural forms, and reinterpret them for both the entry plaza and for the back wall.


How does Scharling-Todd’s concept contribute to the original themes in the architectural design of the library?


Ellinwood: Port Hueneme is a beach town as well as a port, as its raison d’etre is the ocean’s connection to the land. The roof

forms recall an ocean swell and natural light spilling in from above entering the library, is like emerging under a large gentle wave. Scharling-Todd’s interpretation, was inspired by the patterns waves leave on the sand, as a wave retreats back into the ocean after breaking on a beach. The mosiacs on the back wall looks at waves in profile.


How did you decide on the placement of the mosaics?


Ellinwood: I wanted the art to lead the visitor into the building so the mosaic tracings in the plaza paving swirl along through the entry doors.  Then as the library unfolds at the back there is an information desk, and the tile mural there suggests the continuous waves of information flowing onward. The sparkle and brillant colors of the mosaic stones that don’t fade, represent the timelessness of great literature and the excitement of learning.

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