Artists discover the beauty of mosaic

ART IN THE GARDEN

February 9 and 10

The Old Courthouse, Wollongong

Patience, strength and agile wrists are key to becoming a successful sculptor and mosaic maker, say Kathy Golab and Debbie Lausz.

The intricate nature of a mosaic and the weight of some of the heavier pieces account for the latter attributes, but patience is crucial when learning to work with clay.

"When you're working with clay, if you rush it, it slumps, so you have to work it fairly slowly and get the feel for actually carving," Golab says.

The women are two of seven artists showcasing pieces in this weekend's exhibition after several years taking a garden sculpture and mosaic class at the Illawarra WEA with teacher Susan McDonald.

Amateurs with a peripheral interest in mosaic when they first enrolled, both women say they have grown as artists under the guidance of their teacher and are keen to show their achievements.

"We've gone from someone who's been remotely interested in having a go to someone who's actually got a skill," Golab says.

Inspired by Spanish artists Antonio Gaudi and Pablo Picasso, the seven have used their ideas as a jumping-off point, but each of the 47 pieces exhibited is different.

"Each one of us has a totally different concept of what we're trying to achieve," Lausz says.

Lausz is particularly focused on the mosaic aspect of the class, though she does sculpt and fire the clay bases for her work herself.

She has developed several pieces that focus on nature by portraying plants and animals with the tiles and incorporating space for actual plants to grow into the picture.

"I like finding tiles that are unusual and different colours and you can find crockery and plates. I enjoy finding things I can recycle and use in a piece to make it come alive," she says. Golab, however, is interested in sculpting large pieces using a range of clays and glazes.

"I came into the class initially because I was interested in doing mosaic, but found I wasn't keen on it particularly," she says.

Her pieces include large clay tiles and "dolls" with faces inspired by the work of Picasso.

The women (who also include Mary-Lou Reid, Dulcie Stanford, Beryl Prothero, Kym Shaw and Nicola Rees) have become fast friend, Golab says, and always try to catch up in the holidays.

"We're all pretty passionate about our work, so we all try to get together at least once."

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