Meet the Artist – Andrea B Designs

A complete change in lifestyle and pace of life has given Andrea Bird the chance to pursue her dreams and work as an artist.

Andrea, originally from the North of England, moved to the Algarve just over six years ago and has loved it ever since. While working in finance in the UK, she always hoped she would get the opportunity to build her art career. Now from a specially adapted studio in her home in Boliqueme, Andrea has finally achieved her dream. She has developed her own techniques as well as employing ancient traditional methods with her contemporary glass mosaic work.

“I started out making and designing jewellery, which I still do, but this developed and grew into something else. I trained in Silversmith work and lampwork back in the UK, along with Electroforming at the Birmingham School of Jewellery. I’ve always been a bit of a magpie and so anything that sparkles catches my eye and mesmerises me.”

Andrea’s technique includes materials such as inks, resin, glass, mirror, bespoke lampwork and more traditional materials such as tiles, iridescent glass, 24k gold smalti and anything that appeals to her.

“A couple of years ago, I went to Greece to learn sculptural mosaics. The teacher, Liliana Waisman, was from Argentina and her methods and materials developed through a lack of access to normal materials. This led to a very creative process that entailed her making her own tesserae, which inspired me to experiment and not be scared to try new things, a bit like alchemy! I use resin, electroforming, which is the process of metal adhering and growing on non-metallic surfaces. I also use my own bespoke lampwork pieces, comprised of glass melted over a propane gas and oxygen torch, which is generally my signature.”

Andrea’s work includes recycled elements and, where she can, she will use elements that would have been discarded and melted down. These parts can be put to a far more creative use in her one-of-a-kind pieces.

More of a creation than a painting, the 3D effects of her work are difficult to capture in photographs or videos and much more stunning in real life. The fractures of the glass reflect and capture all kinds of light so that any piece will look different at different times of the day. It is this element that really sets her work apart.

Her inspiration comes from a multitude of sources, including masters such as Giulio Menossi, Olga Goulandris, Beatrice Serre Mosaiste, and Gustav Klimt.

“I try to look for inspiration everywhere. Sometimes it’s a light bulb moment when I can be on a roll and see things everywhere, which I then frantically sketch up for my own adaptation to develop into something different, other times I’m lost. I have to be in the right frame of mind, so clearing my head can help, and a walk on the beach or a ride in the beautiful hills of the Algarve really helps. In the future, I’m looking to really mix up several elements such as slate, glass and mica, but sourcing some of the elements I need is proving challenging.”

Working as an artist can be a lonely job, so Andrea decided to form the Quinta Art Collective – a group of women, all friends and all with very different genres. Andrea is joined in the collective by Jessica Dunn – contemporary landscapes, Toin Adams – sculptor, Jane Rodenburg – fibre artist, Tracy Carson – portraiture. All five live close to each other and, as close friends, they are able to support and encourage each other. They have big plans for the future, with several successful exhibitions under their belt.

“Quinta Art Collective has been a great success with a diverse range of styles but a very close friendship. We have been able to support each other and bring to a wider audience an eclectic offering that caters to everyone. Each member is a success in their own right, but knowing someone has your back in an increasingly divided world is a lifesaver.”

Their next exhibition is on 10–11 December at Quinta Estrela Montes, Alfontes when guest artists will join the Quinta Art Collective.


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