MOSAIC artist Lynette Thomas is a self-confessed magpie – always on the look-out for shiny, quirky bits and pieces she can incorporate into her work.

Lynette, 47, who lives in Old Town and has a workshop at the Post Modern, near the Wyvern Theatre, collects interesting old chinaware, bits of jewellery and curious pieces of bric-a-brac, trinkets and gewgaws, as well as natural findings such as stones and bones, shells and skulls.

Whether she is out walking the rural landscape or rummaging for treasure in car boot sales or charity shops, it is often poignant relics of the past or appealing curios that catch her eye. These found pieces become part of her glorious mosaic pieces – most recently a series of mosaic shrines, which have been exhibited at the Beehive in Swindon, and will move to the Hop Inn, Devizes Road, from November 4 to the end of the month.

“I’ve always collected things on walks and around charity shops,” Lynette said. “I’m very inspired by the local folklore and the local landscape – like the white horses in Wiltshire.”

One of her mosaic mandalas, for example, was inspired by the Swallowhead Spring near West Kennet long barrow, one depicts the long barrow itself and another is a representation of the Uffington white horse in its landscape. Her latest exhibition was based around the theme of the shrine – a holy or sacred place dedicated to a deity, or to an ancestor, or a saint, or a similar figure, at which they are remembered or venerated. The presiding deities of Lynette’s shrines are an eclectic mix, and include the artist Frida Kahlo, the rock star Elvis Presley and David Bowie’s persona, Ziggy Stardust. As well as images of the venerated, the shrines are brilliant coloured and with a host of relevant motifs, such as three diamond teardrops for Ziggy and welter of silver and gold for the King of rock ‘n’ roll.

Another shrine is dedicated to the Tea Angel, and another to self-belief – with pieces of mirror. One shrine was inspired by the labyrinth at Rocky Valley in Cornwall, and another is devoted to the green man of myth and legend.

Lynette is Swindon born and bred: she went to St Joseph’s School and then the School of Art at Swindon College in Euclid Street where she studied for an HND in illustration. Her interest in the medium of mosaics began when she left college in 1992 – but she can trace the roots of her passion for mosaic further back, to a childhood visit to the Little Chapel in Guernsey.

“I first went when I was a child of about ten,” she said. “I was fascinated by all the shells and china. It was like a fairy grotto.

The Little Chapel was created by a monk called Brother Deodat in 1914, though it was rebuilt three times, as he wanted to create a miniature version of the grotto and basilica at Lourdes in France. It is a unique piece of work, covered in all kinds of mosaic. Lynette revisited it again recently: “It’s even more amazing that I remember,” she said.

Another childhood influence came from her grandparents – who were also avid collectors: “My grandparents lived in Ramsgate, and they had cabinets full of shells, rocks and crystals, and that sort of thing.”

Lynette went on to work in community arts, such as the Octopus community arts bus, and helping youngsters develop their interest in arts and crafts. She set up her own studio with Artsite over ten years ago. When Swindon Borough Council provided an empty building, she and fellow members worked voluntarily on renovations to create studio and exhibition space for local artists.

Lynette has held a number of exhibitions, including one last year on folklore and superstitions. One of her shrines has even been included in a London exhibition called Enshrined, held in the Crypt Gallery at St Pancras in the summer. The brief was to create something that acknowledged the sacred in our lives, and relics within that signified the identity and history of the self. Lynette’s piece was called Lord of the Wild Life and repurposed a candelabra with an animal skull. On a more domestic theme, she has created a host of beautiful mosaic teapots, as well as recreating found objects and musical instruments with mosaic.

In the future, Lynette is planning to collaborate with her partner, stone carver David Wilkins on some new creations, and they are busy exploring the local landscape and collecting folklore and stories to inspire their art. For more information on Lynette’s art, visit her website, or visit her Facebook page.