During my school years I excelled at art, especially design and drawing but career wise I took a different path which led me to office work. I had various office jobs until I unearthed my passion for mosaic at the age of 37.
Eleven years ago a friend made a booking for the two of us to attend three short courses. The first course was a six hour sculpture workshop. The second was a six week singing course and the third was a six week beginner course in mosaics. After the three courses were completed I realised that I can’t sing to save myself, sculpture is something that I would love to take further one day but I became absolutely hooked on mosaic. The vivid colours, reflective qualities, texture, movement and the methodical and therapeutic process grabbed my attention. I started out with a hammer and an obsession for old china, tiles, shells, gems and costume jewellery, anything I could get my hands on that would enhance my work. I would stalk tile shops and was often found out the back upended in an industrial waste bin, feet the only visible part of my body, determined to reach a tile that had caught my eye at the bottom.
My first project was a 12 seater table which I needed to complete within 3 weeks as I was having the family over for Christmas lunch. My family loved the table and encouraged me to start making mosaics for sale. I started by making vases and pots as a hobby. A friend of mine who owned a florist shop offered to sell them in her shop but was not prepared to do this unless I had a business tax number. This then led me to start up my business Mosaics by Design in 2001. Shortly after this I was asked to teach mosaics at a well known tile shop in Adelaide. Being thrown in at the deep end was probably the best thing for me because I had to quickly learn about correct substrates, mosaic terms and methods through reading every mosaic book I could get my hands on and plenty of phone calls to hardware stores. I owe a lot to Martin Cheek and Elaine Goodwin for the knowledge I gained through their well read books!
During the 7 or so years that I taught mosaics at Creative Tiles I was asked to do many commissions. A particular client wanted a 2 metre x 1.5 metre Bird of Paradise water feature. I approached a local business who specialise in the production of water features which led me to many commissions and more exposure.
Over the past eleven years I have worked with Garden Designers, Councils, Builders, Landscapers and Interior Designers as well as corporate clients like Coca Cola. My portfolio includes floors, water features, swimming pools, murals, kitchen splash backs, bathroom murals, bars, tables and memorials.
I believe that close consultation with the client and taking the surroundings into consideration when designing a mosaic ensures a unique piece of art.
Seven years ago I discovered stained glass and fell in love with the textures, vivid colours and reflective qualities it offered. The pallet of colours available to me with stained glass allowed me to create more realistic mosaic murals. The drought and restrictions on water use we recently experienced in Australia helped my business along the way because people were looking for colour in their gardens without the need to water. Instead of the old galvanised iron fence people are opting for rendered foam, blue board or brick walls which make wonderful backdrops to my mosaics.
I love nature, especially flowers and I constantly strive to create large realistic mosaics paying special attention to depth, to the fold of a petal and to where light hits an object. I can waste hours studying nature and my family often complains about the amount of photos of flowers I have on my computer compared to the photos I have of family and friends. I think it’s a bit of an obsession. After a trip to Bali my daughters commented on how boring my photos were because nearly every shot was of a flower, lily pond or fish.
For some reason my mosaics seem to be growing in size, the largest being 3 metres by 1.2 metres. To produce large mosaics I use stained glass instead of smalti purely due to the stained glass being more cost effective and less time consuming. In 2006 I attended a workshop at the Ravenna School of Mosaic in Italy and was so excited to use smalti for the first time. Unfortunately other than attending Martin Cheeks workshop here in Adelaide in August last year I have not worked with smalti since. These workshops were informative and inspiring and I highly recommend both. I attended the MAANZ (Mosaic Association of Australia and New Zealand) Symposium in August and was blown away by the amazing artwork created with smalti. The use of smalti as well as more freestyle abstract is an area of mosaic which I yearn to explore in the future. After a 3 year break I have started running workshops again and am thoroughly enjoying interacting with people, a nice change from the solitude of my workshop.
To view more of my mosaics please visit my web site atwww.mosaicsbydesign.com.au