Art In Transit

​Camden Wall Mosaic Frieze​

​​Artist: Tom Thoune

​​Click here to go back to page 1.

 15. These three cogs embrace the trinity of family, created by the artist, his mother, and his aunt. ​16. In the 1800s, railroad passengers on the same light rail line would have seen cotton fields from the train, instead of South End.  Celebrating cotton, this mosaic depicts the unusual tale of a traveler who returned to England from India in the 1600s.  He described cotton as "a plant that released sheep upon ripening."  The artist imagined such a plant in this mosaic, depicting heads of sheep peeping out from cotton plant pods amid a cotton landscape.  Small hands reach in to pick the cotton, as they would have in the former fields. 

                                                                          Cog #15 & 16


17. This mosaic composed of donated café plates includes tiles from Trinity students, local and retired artists, and glass beads from a woman on her way to a retirement center.  Included is the Japanese character for "light," perhaps an interpretation for light rail. 

                                                                                              Cog # 18

18. More green glass from the Grace Covenant Church, artists' donations, Dilworth Montessori School student work, and sentimental marbles find permanent home in this piece.  A sugar bowl once held the ashes of a granddaddy described as "the sweetest man who ever walked the earth."

Cog # 17                                                  


Cog #19 

20. Here, spring becomes summer.  Trillium flora connected by industrial belts leads to a large dogwood blossom, part organic and part mechanical, framing lovebirds in the center.  The light rail train returns, leading a sun followed a moon.  A waterway arrives at a Polynesian girl playing guitar among sand dollars, coral, shells, and fish scales. Donated pieces include more broken wedding china from a Prices' Chicken fish sandwich lover and a raku pot to honor a dearly departed friend.

Cog #20

19. In this piece, a summer scene turns to winter.  Swirling yellow and blue cog elements precede a frog jumping over flowers.  A yellow-haired girl walks a dog named Ivy, followed by a lush garden, children at play, and the light rail train and its passengers.  Next is a snow girl, marking the seasonal transition, followed by lighted holiday trees under a winter sky.  Trees turn barren, reindeer fly by, and the cog theme continues, leading to an ornate hornet's nest and queen's crown.  A patriot defending the "Hornets Nest" reputation of Southern soldiers holds his rifle poised for battle, in the company of red and white stars.  Donations in this mosaic include an original tile floor plug from the former Fiber Mills, now the NC Music Factory, near Graham Street.  Pursued by a determined husband, a wedding anniversary picnic plate survived a fall from a Linville Gorge bridge, drifting along the river until salvaged by campers, finally returned to its river-soaked owner. The same plate led an active picnicking career across the Carolinas, until broken moving a piano a foot across the room.  Retired, it now becomes part of the wall.​

Cog #21

21. Flowers and cog elements combine with student materials from Charlotte Trinity and cookie cutter tile pieces from Dilworth Montessori.  Melted marbles add unusual shapes and texture to the wall.​

​Cog #22

22. This mosaic represents rooftop gardens in a City of the Future.  Lovebirds and modern wave-like tiles encircle cog themes.  Studio visitors answered the question "What would travel look like in the future?" with clay passenger creations.  Answers depict a girl sprouting wings, a guy with round elevating bubbles around his head, a flying scooter and winged feet.  Contributions from West Mecklenburg High School students include hands, birds, and autographical carvings, combined with the artist's hornet references. 

Donated materials were given by a daughter who recalls the business her father once owned amid South Boulevard's former fields and farmland.  Her father always believed in the land's resale value and the city's growth potential, boldly predicting that one day a train would roll through the area.   Descendants delight to see his prediction proved true, as the land now sits by a light rail station.


Cog # 26

26. This cog depicts Atherton Mill, built in the late 1800s, operating within a mile of the present-day East/West Boulevard light rail station.  Smoke drifts from the mill's chimney, surrounded by swimming pool tile and teacup handles.  Donated materials include antique bone china from the 1850s and 1900s, as well as a plate that once served riders on the Southern Railroad dining car.

30. Cog and flowers motifs continue with donations collected during the McColl Center residency.  More swimming pools tiles anchor the design.

31. This cog includes materials collected from personal friends and family of the artist with community donations made through McColl Center.  Many visitors at McColl assisted with the fabrication of this piece.  It includes a sample of a particular hard-to-find china pattern from a mother whose collection will one day pass onto her daughter.​


Cog #23

23. This mosaic features calendar plates and additional donation from visitors to McColl Center.  This was the first mosaic made during the artist's 4-month residency.  Painted violets on a donated teacup (honoring the owner's namesake) were a brother's gift to his sister, who purchased the gift in England while stationed with the Navy in World War II.

 ​25.This mosaic honors Camden Road, where British General Cornwallis led  his soldiers during the American Revolution.  A fallen Redcoat symbolizes American victory, as hornets feed on a defeated cicada.  A plate commemorates the Declaration of Independence.  Donated Venetian glass provides the vivid red color, paired with melted Venetian figurines.

Cog #27

27. North Carolina is founded on the tobacco industry, but the No-Smoking tiles send a cautioning message among smoke rings and the nicotina flower of the tobacco plant.  

This piece includes mosaic work by David Ray Chishom, a noted local painter and mosaic artist, and recognizable face among Charlotte's homeless population.  Often seen with a grocery cart full of artwork, declining payment with the request that donations be made directly to the Urban Ministry Center.  His white and red cross mosaic located at the left of the art came from works featured by Carolina Clay Connection; he was aware of its future inclusion in the Camden Wall project.  "Ray" was fatally struck by a drunk driver prior to the completion of wall. 


Cog #31

32. ​This orange and blue cog frames donated pieces from a grandmother’s dinnerware and other collections, surrounding a cicada, teddy bear, flowers, and a troll.  A tilted sun shines on a chinois temple of a Dilworth garden​


Cog #24

24. The willowware legend tells of Pyramus and Thisbe, two forbidden lovers from separate Chinese villages.  Defying tradition, they marry, and as punishment, are sentenced to death by fire.  Spirits take pity on their souls, turning the lovers into turtle doves.  On the Camden Wall, the artist imagines a love that brings together a young man from Wilmore and a girl from Dilworth.  ​They meet on a bridge near a bottle tree.  Surrounded by spells and magic, their souls become lovebirds among a sea of blue willowware.  The work includes tiles from YMCA classes​, a Mother's Day present from a Norwegian exchange student, leftover cobalt plates discovered in a basement by a new homeowner, and turquoise tiles from a grandmother's swimming pool.  The swimming pool, one of the first on the block in its time, was described as often shown but rarely used and is now a garden.

​Cog #28

28. Orbiting spheres by local artist Terry Shipley denote a modern energy source, referencing new technology and new transportation possibilities. 


Cog #29

​​​29. A donated plate shows D. A. Tompkins (1851-1914), a Charlotte industrialist and philanthropist who build three area cotton mills, shaking hands with the first prize winner for best garden.  Mill house tenants received seeds and trees to beautify the neighborhood.  Meanwhile, a boy looks through a screen door, (perhaps the same door depicted earlier in the wall), surrounded by brightly colored flowers designs.

Cog #32

​​ 33. The final mosaic concludes the wall with a large cog element, gears, flowers, and donated and handmade works.  The piece includes a plate broken during an emotional moment between mother and daughter; its moon and stars represent the mother’s true feelings about her daughter.  A dragon plate collected during a journalist’s travels during the Vietnam War was donated.  Other materials include donated blue fiesta ware, calico plates, yellow dogwood country plates, and a Satsuma lamp made in Japan in the early 1900s.  A resident receiving cancer treatment gave glass beads.  Ceramic hand prints plates made by preschool-age grandchildren who are now in college and a broken spoon tray combine with champagne christening memories to commemorate how everyday contributions attest to the power and beauty of collective community.​​


                                                                         ​Cog # 33