As I headed back home on the train to Scotland, I looked out and kept spotting walls that needed tlc. I couldn't help it, after Laurel True's class, I was so stimulated by her enthusiasm for what she does ("partnering with organisations, schools, community groups and businesses to develop unique participatory projects, designed and implemented through social engagement" - quote from the Global Mosaic Project card) and how I could take what I learnt at the workshop and apply it to my geographical 'turf'. By the end of the journey, I had located the perfect community project, the perfect wall and now I just need to approach them with the idea!
Laurel structured the class in two halves; the morning to include a presentation and a lecture and the afternoon to be demos and a hands-on mini mural creation. However, it was soon apparent that that wasn't going to work. As she taught us to teach, inspire, manage the individuals who would be working on our future projects, we sat enthralled. She talked us through the processes of how to identify the goals of project, planning, how to manage it successfully, how to teach basic mosaic skills, how to ensure that your finished wall has longevity due to good preparation, adhesives and appropriate materials, and how to evaluate the community impact at the end.
For the one hour left at the tail end of the afternoon, we created the mini-mural, giving us a hands-on experience of what she had talked about. Have we read her drawing correctly? Yes, we fixed the mirror to the right of the line, but no, we put the beads on the wrong side and had to correct; we defined our edges; we looked at those working on the other sections to make sure we had the balance right; when we finished with one colour, we shared our left-overs with another group who needed it… just a snippet of some of the advice we received from Laurel which we put into practice, concepts that we will take away and apply on our own community projects.
And by attending this workshop on the Sunday, participating in a community workshop on the Friday, and by working with others, you learn new techniques (for me it was hitting the back of a tile to break - how simple was that, but I had never done it that way), and new materials that I had not encountered before, new tools and new friends.
In between these two days, we had the Forum, a series of talks by mosaic artists from around the world, talking about their artistic practices, and how they keep their creative mojo. It was great to meet up with old mosaic friends and cyber pals. I ended up on the raffle table, which actually was a great way to meet new people, whilst helping out.
My head is bouncing with all the stimulation, and all the questions that I ask myself as I head into the Christmas fair season where I have a few commitments - do I want to do mosaic art for exhibition, then after Laurel's workshop on Sunday, 'No', I want to go off to far-flung corners of the world and do mosaic projects that re-energise an area, then back to mirrors… But I think that was what the theme of the forum was about really, how to balance it all!