Mosaic artist Christine Lloyd Walker talks about her work
See more of Christine Lloyd Walker’s work at www.canvasformosaic.co.uk
Being an artist
Please give us a few words of introduction about yourself
I live in Brighton, married, and supposedly retired! I have a small workshop in my garden where I spend a lot of my time experimenting with ceramic wall tiles and glass tesserae, and occasionally freeing myself up on a large canvas with oils or acrylics. I consider my mosaics to be an art form as opposed to craft and teach adults the principles of good design one-to-one, and children in groups when the opportunity arises. Brighton has a massive arts culture, so there are plenty!
When did you decide to pursue art as a career?
At 16 I had no problem getting 98% in my art exams and was passionate about abstract art and design. I decided to pursue Fashion Design as becoming ‘an artist’ was not an option as far as my parents were concerned!
What training did you have?
Tutors at Birmingham College of Art decided in their wisdom that I was a textile student, so my dreams of becoming the next Mary Quant in 1969 were shattered almost at once but I obtained a degree in Printed Textiles.
I received an Art Teacher Certificate in 1971 from Sussex University
I became a recognised craft teacher for Social Services in 1971
Diploma in Interior Design RA and City and Guilds in 2000
What has been the high point of your career so far?
I received a grant from Brighton Council to work with the Fostering Centre to produce 3 panels to brighten up a flint wall. I used drawings made by the children of ‘Happy Smiling Faces’. Many drew portraits of their foster parents – it was a very moving experience especially as some of them recognised themselves in the finished piece.
What’s your favourite quote?
For when the one Great Scorer comes
To write against your name,
He marks, not that you won or lost,
But how you played the Game
Who is your favourite artist?
Anyone whose name starts with a ‘K’
What are you aiming for?
Understanding of the way the materials I use can be cut and placed in a way that is unique, original and sympathetic.
How will you get there?
Many, many experimental pieces, lots of failures and once in a while a surprisingly satisfactory result to spur me on.
Is anything holding you back?
You and art
What feelings or reactions do you hope to arouse in people who view your work? Are you ever surprised by reactions that you get?
I am always surprised when people say they love my work. It’s great when people say they don’t like mosaics but they like mine! I am surprised when people buy my work, when I win a commission. Life is full of surprises these days.
I hope when people view my work that they will scan a piece and read it like a book, enjoy what they discover; never tire.
From start to finish, how long does it take for you to create your work?
On average, around 20 hours.
What music do you like to listen to when you work?
What are you working on next? Any future plans or projects in the pipeline that we should look out for?
After a recent ‘Mini Maker’s Faire’ I have been approached by many community groups to run workshops.
An exclusive bathroom design company has offered to give me tile samples no longer required which means a whole range of new colours to be fashioned and formed.
My panels are getting larger by the year.
Being inspired by art
Who (living or dead) inspires you? and why?
Of course I am inspired by Gaudi, which mosaic artist is not? But I have a soft spot for Hundertwasser who was totally off the wall.
I love modern art with lyrical line and free expression, Picasso, Kandinsky, decorative artists like Klimpt and Beardsley, and I have soft spot for the Pre-Raphs.
What feelings, subjects or concepts inspire you as an artist?
Colour and line, but colour most of all. I get excited about a vibrant mix of colour and an unusual palette. When I see an exciting combination I scuttle off to find tiles of similar hues to see what I can do with them.
What is your favourite work that you’ve produced so far and why?
My favourite today is a blue panel made from cut 1970’s bathroom tiles covered in floral designs. This is because I was very doubtful if I could make the piece come together, and was surprised when it did, only evident after grouting. I used a pale grout, unusual for me. So it was a gamble, but it worked, hours of snipping not wasted.
an artist’s advice
For those thinking about turning a passion for art into a career, could you give any advice?
Until you hit the big time you will need a side line to earn your living and buy your materials so think about teaching your craft. Try and get a professional artist to appraise your work so that you know where you are in the scheme of things, especially when deciding on a price for your work.
Any tips on how to get your work seen and get the commissions coming in?
Spend at least 4 hours a week on promotion, marketing and networking. Contact your local council for funding opportunity and commissions in public buildings and ask your local estate agents if you can hang your work in their offices (free) and change them once a month unless sold. Local paper reporters always need a good photo opportunity so find a fun news angle and contact them, maybe the biggest portrait using food colourings!