Tag Archives: mosaics

Can you guess what it is yet?

10 Jun
One of the great things about living in London is that there is always something going on, and quite often, that thing is free!  Yesterday I found out that I can go and have training in making mosaics for free with Southbank Mosaics.  Each week they have a drop-in session where you can have a go at making a small mosaic (mine is 15cm square) with direction from them.  Then if you like it, and you’re good enough, you can help them work on much larger, collaborative pieces which then go into the public realm, for everyone to admire.

So I arrived and I’m given a quick tour and told the rules – basically to be careful as the tiles have sharp edges, and to respect other people working – and then shown a book with loads of great ideas for my first try.  Once you pick your design, you draw it onto the square of wood you’re given and then you can start picking out your tiles and sticking them on!  Sounds simple?  Actually there is a bit more to it than that!

Can you guess what it is yet?

I find out that it’s not just about sticking bits of broken tile to a piece of wood, but that mosaic needs to have ‘andamento’ which is the flow of the lines and the tiles (and the spaces between the tiles!) which adds to the whole and gives the impression of a 3D object.  Hopefully I’ll be able to demonstrate that once I’ve finished my piece of work! Not only that but you can use different colour grouting to finish off the piece, which all makes difference.  All these things definitely make you look at a picture in much more detail to analyze where the light and shade is.  I thought it would be best to start in the middle and work out (as you can see in my picture) but I was told the best plan is the do the border of the picture first, so you know where your boundaries are – which also makes total sense!  Being a slightly impatient person who always rushes around, it was very therapeutic for me to stop, sit, and really have to think about what I was doing.  In a way, I think it might be easier for a non-artistic beginner to make a mosaic that you would be proud of than a painting – purely because the process is so slow that you can’t make a rushed splash of paint on the canvas, you have to pick out and cut the tiles to the required shape and size.  You can see that my drawing skills aren’t up to much but I’m already excited to go back next week as I enjoyed myself much more than I thought I would, and everyone was really friendly.

David Toothill, the Director at Southbank Mosaics explained to me that because mosaics are so strong, they can last in the public realm for around 200 years outside and even longer if they are kept away from the weather.  Of course, we all know mosaics survive from times long gone, in the shape of Roman mosaic floors and the like.  Another great aspect of mosaics is that people can touch them, whereas art in a gallery or museum is not allowed to be touched, as we all found out when we were kids, no doubt!  They can take months to complete and be worth thousands of pounds for high quality work.

Southbank Mosaics does sell some of its work so if you see any pieces on their site that you like the look of, please contact them.  They are a community enterprise, and as such all funding they receive is much appreciated.  They also do some great work with young offenders.

On the way out I catch sight of this rather amusing sign on the door…

"Burnt smell is normal"

Southbank Mosaics have around 130 mosaics placed in the public realm in London and they have even produced a walk so that you can see them all.  Find out more here.

Follow @southbankmosaic on Twitter to find out more.

%d bloggers like this: