Chislehurst mosaic man who has the whole world in his hands
PUBLISHED: 09:18 07 March 2013 | UPDATED: 09:20 07 March 2013
"I was brought up between England and Hong Kong, so flying back and forth gave me a sense of how large the Earth is from a young age."
Database analyst Chris Chamberlain offers the beginnings of an explanation to the question everyone is asking after he spent more than two years creating a giant mosaic of the planet – why?
The 49-year-old, from Chislehurst, has no background in art but finds the roots of his epic artwork buried in the love for his wife, Theodora, and her native Sierra Leone.
Hoping to raise £100,000 from the sale of his masterpiece, called the Jewel of the Universe, Chris is looking start a Fairtrade company that will provide jobs for the people of the African nation.
He said: “I first went out there in 2002 and have felt the need to do something to help the country since. My heart went out to the people living in those pretty rubbish conditions.
“The aim is to create a product that I could reproduce in Sierra Leone with a Fairtrade company providing jobs for the people there.”
Measuring more than three metres wide and two metres high, the artwork features 330,000 pieces painstakingly cut by hand over a six-month period.
All the work took place in his garage, where he used two maps as guidance for the intricate detail, including the rivers running through each continent.
“I needed tiny pieces to achieve the high resolution of the mosaic and you can’t buy them that small anywhere,” said Chris.
“Using a hammer from a boot sale, I cut enough pieces that would reach three kilometres laid out in a line – that’s the length of about 28 football pitches.
“It took about a year and three- quarters to lay it all out because I was still working my day job.”
He has now put the artwork on auction website eBay, garnering attraction from the world’s media as far away as Russia and Cambodia.
The initial valuation of his work at £250,000 has been reduced to £100,000 in the hope of attracting more bidders – having had just three to date.
He said: “The price covers the cost of making it and of the labour, I think it’s a reasonable price for what it is and how long it took.
“I’m just hoping I haven’t shot myself in the foot by reducing the price but in the end it’s just about getting the money to set up my Fairtrade company.”
Chris freely admits art is not necessarily his strong point and walking around galleries wouldn’t be his idea of a fun day out.
However, his subject matter was enough to bring out his creative side, inspired by a globe-trotting childhood that was the result of his Eurasian background.
He added: “I love maps and being half-English and half- Chinese I spent a lot of time on planes looking down at the Earth.
“The planet is a great place and, apart from anything else, I chose it as my subject matter because I think it’s worth it.”
The auction of the Jewel of the Universe ends on Saturday.
To see Chris’s artwork and make it your own, visit http://bit.ly/YtxIet.