A graduate from Goldsmith’s in the 1980s, Cleo Mussi has since gone on to exhibit her work internationally and often includes up to 100 pieces per installation – using a large proportion of recycled materials that are arranged into a variety of narratives.
We managed to get a few moments with Cleo, taking her away from her latest projects, to discuss her work with mosaics.
How and when did you begin working with Mosaics?
I trained in Textiles at Goldsmiths College and worked with lots of recycled fabrics as well as printing and weaving. I had also worked in ceramics since the age of 16 attending night school. When I left college I wanted to make pieces that were more permanent and architectural so I started to experiment piecing and patching and recycling china instead of fabric and then the work developed over the years.
What is your process like for designing and then making your artworks?
I generally work on a set of ideas for a large show or a commissioned brief. With a commission I might make a set of sketches to show to clients and then enlarge them onto the wooden base and then build up the content of the mosaic starting with the key features and working out from those. For exhibition pieces I work directly onto the board with a simple and rough sketch and then draw in the detail and form with the china pieces.
What is the most challenging thing about working with mosaics?
There is never enough time as it is a time consuming medium.
What are you currently working on?
I have a couple of lovely commissions this autumn. One for Prema Arts in Uley Gloucestershire for their educational and exhibition space. We confirmed the drawings and I am making a 2 meter ginger tom cat in a pink cowboy hat holding a mask of a British Bull dog and a rabbit jumping from a top hat , a flying budgie as well as baskets over flowing with creatures and creative stuff ! The other commission is for a Solar Panel company in Regents St in London and I am making a life size figure channelling sunlight into positive things as well as lambs and bees and flowers. This will go in the meeting room of their office.
If you could tell a beginner one thing about mosaics, what would that be?
Make lots of small pieces to try and develop your own style and then work towards an exhibition so you can get feedback about the work you are making.