Sid Dickens' Handmade Wall Tiles
By Carrie Gress
Wall tiles are not the first thing people think of when it comes to religious art, but designer Sid Dickens has created a whole new genre of art that decorates homes, businesses, and restaurants the world over.
I have long admired these elegant tiles. I first saw them at my friend Jen's shop, La Bella Casa, in McMinnville, Oregon, back when I was a traveling student, moving every year or so. Decorating my own home was a long way off. To my delight, I rediscovered them at store, Du Jardin, in Fredericksburg, Virginia. (They are available for purchase online and at other shops around the world.)
Sized at 6x8 inches, Sid Dickens' tiles can be hung as singles, or they can be grouped together to create a unique and dramatic decorative wall. Many have taken to collecting Dickens' tiles because most are part of limited-edition collections.
Dickens, a Canadian native, is clearly inspired by Catholic themes (although it isn't clear that the faith is something he ascribes to). On his website, Dickens says, "When things come out of passion they develop organically, and for me, it has never felt like work but more like part of myself-- perhaps as a cure to my compulsive need for creating beautiful objects and being surrounded by them."
Dickens, originally trained as a sculptor, got started in the early 90s and his tiles are still going strong. He attributes their appeal to their beauty and sense of history. "People like to feel they are an integral part of the story of humanity, and my tiles have the weight and feel of another era, a time when things were more permanents and long-lasting. I think it's this aspect of the tiles that make people want to reach out. In essence, they want to touch history."
Dickens has clearly found much inspiration from Catholic themes, with many tiles featuring the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Child Jesus, the Madonna and Child, and guardian Angels.
Dickens also makes many tiles with a single architectural flourish, symbol, or design.
Yes, there are a some tiles in his collection that raise an eyebrow, but Dickens' commitment to the beautiful ensures that he is constantly pulling from different eras that understood the nature of beauty. Drawing from the vast array of Catholic art and architecture makes perfect sense.
All photos courtesy of Sid Dickens' website.