LMA: Tell us a little about your artistic background and how you got started in mosaic art:
Alison: I have always been 'arty' and willing to give anything a go. I've upcycled and recycled all my life, from breathing new life into old furniture to making items from scratch. My very first mosaic came about when I had very little money and had a rotten window frame that needed fixing. I chiseled out the rotten wood, filled it (which looked unsightly!) and then covered it in mosaic from a mirror I'd dropped and wanted to reuse. I was 18 and remember feeling so proud! The way the light pooling through the glass bounced off the shards creating streams of light in the room got me hooked.
LMA: How long have you been creating mosaic, art, etc?
Alison: My first mosaic was when I was 18 and I went on to apply mosaic to interior and exterior personal projects like splashbacks, walls, fire surrounds and floors, but never for anyone else. I made lots of mistakes which didn't matter as it was only for me and a great way to learn with no pressure. I didn't start doing it 'professionally' until 2013 (25 years later!) when I launched my business and started a Facebook page and then eventually my website.
LMA: What about mosaics resonates with you?
Alison: When I rediscovered mosaic in a big way 7 years ago, it really began as therapy. I could become totally immersed in the process. It teaches you patience and perseverance. Mosaic isn't instant, it takes time and careful thought. Each piece is considered individually on it's merit and it teaches you to constantly look at the bigger picture. Often it's not until the last piece is laid or grouted that that the work leaps to life.
The fact that broken pieces become whole again resonates with me too. I also adore the tactility, the differing levels and the way the light reacts with unglazed tile, mirror, glass, china and pottery all sat next to each other. Mosaic art comes to life in a way no other art form excites me. Especially true for 3D substrates and large scale sculptures.
LMA: What is your favorite part of the mosaic process?
Alison: I love everything about the mosaic process but I have to say I adore grouting! Grout is so vital. Get the colour wrong and the carefully clipped tesserae blend away. When you get it right however, everything comes together and really adds depth.
LMA: Do you have favorite materials you like to work with? What are they?
Alison: I mainly work with glass, vintage china plates and ceramic tile. I love using the patterns on the china. For example I'll search through my collection for ages choosing a pattern that would make a perfect 'eye' for example. You need to see things in the design other than what it is, when you open your mind to that, you see what they can become rather than what they are.
LMA: What is your favorite thing you have created and why?
Alison: Everything I have created is important to me because people have them in their homes all over the world. That's a huge deal I think...however if I had to choose a favourite it would be one of the two large 3D sculptures. Either the 8ft Giraffe for Worcester Stands Tall (which was auctioned for charity in 2018 raising £15k) or Sebastian the 6ft Hare commission as it is the longest I've ever spent (6 months) on one project and was a highly personalized piece for my clients that will be handed down for generations.
LMA: What would you like to learn/add to your mosaics experience?
Alison: As I've never taken a class/workshop/any 'formal' training in this medium it would be a dream to study mosaic in Italy. I'd love to learn traditional methods as my process is modern/contemporary.
LMA: Tell us a little about your studio space:
Alison: My studio is a double garage at the end of my garden. It's cold and draughty and will need to be rebuilt from scratch one day! Until then, it's still amazing to have the largest space I've ever had as a workroom and it's flooded with natural light.
LMA: Do you listen to music while creating (what type/bands)or do you prefer the TV(what shows/genera/channel)? Silence? Pod cast? Etc.?
Alison: I'm not a fan of silence! I always have podcasts, Ted Talks, DVDs or music playing whilst I work. Oddly, some of my best pieces have been created whilst watching Breaking Bad for the millionth time!
LMA: What is one of your favorite quotes or sayings?
Alison: One of my favourite quotes. I have experienced negativity in relation to starting a mosaic business or taking on large projects. I always found their concerns to say more about them than whatever it was I was doing!
“The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person who is doing it.”
– Chinese Proverb
LMA: If you could give readers one single piece of advice, what would it be?
Alison: My advice would be to just start...sounds simple and it is. Don't procrastinate, think too much or worry about what can or cannot be achieved. By starting you're already doing more towards whatever your goal is than those who are not. If this is applied to mosaic, you may feel overwhelmed, don't know where to begin. Buy a beginners book, research the basic tools and just get cracking. I believe we get so consumed in this era of everything being 'instant' that we can feel like we're always playing catch up. The mosaic art online can be intimidating. Ignore all that. Sure, be inspired, but start at your own pace and make what makes you happy one piece at a time.
LMA: Tell us about your single greatest mosaic moment:
Alison: My single greatest mosaic moment was going to visit my mosaic giraffe sculpture displayed in a shopping centre. It was a well publicized art trail where people were on the hunt to find all the giraffes created by local artists.
I stood back and was able to watch their reaction. They didn't know I was the artist so their reactions were genuine, not just saying what I wanted to hear so to speak! It was incredibly moving to see children gasp as they looked up at the giant sculpture and ran around pointing out things they had found. The adults were equally impressed and at that moment it clicked. This is what art is all about. The comments I overheard that day will stay with me forever.
LMA: What made you want to participate in the Diversity Mural?
Alison: I wanted to take part in the diversity mural because I felt it really important after what had happened to show the LGBTQ community that there were supporters worldwide. I knew it would be good for the local community and also the wider community online. Art sends a message and can heal. I think that's important in this digital age where hate can be spread like a virus to counteract it with public displays (literally) of support. I also wanted to support the artists Cherie and Jennifer and be a tiny part of their big vision. They worked so hard on the project.
LMA: What is the meaning behind your heart you created for the Diversity Mural?
Alison: The heart I sent included a back stamp from a plate that was 'Made in England'. The only way I could think of including where the heart had been made and sent from, again to send the message that globally people were hurt and reaching out.