Elizabeth de Ath

Elizabeth de Ath lives and works in Hove near Brighton. There she works on comission for outdoor and indoor projects. Together with her husband she also runs her own Bed & Breakfast which beautifully reflects the artist’s love for mosaic.

Liz, you studied Textile and Ceramic in London. How did you end up doing mosaics and when did you realize that you want to focus on that art form?
I started mosaic work by accident soon after graduating… I did a ceramic mural project and used glass tesserae to fill in around the ceramic tiles. With the leftover box of tesserae I made some mirrors and sold them on a market stall. It took off from there. I was always good with colour, texture and balance so it seemed to fit with my skills. The big driving force for me was that I wanted to have my own creative business and mosaic with its versatility and functionality allowed me to do this. Working to commission rather than relying on sales.

You also give courses and run your own B&B. How do you manage all that? And what is most satisfying in this combination?
Yes there is lots to do all the time. Luckily my husband Dexter and I share the running of the B&B. I am taking a break from a regular monthly course programme in order to concentrate on my own work for exhibition. Commissions are always an exciting challenge, there are a few big ones in the pipeline. The variety in my life makes it interesting and I love meeting new people which I do through the B&B and the mosaic work.

Why should someone come to Hove and Brighton in spring?
Its a lovely time of year hear and probably the sunniest place in the UK. We have the big Brighton Festival in May with many cultural events across the city including Artists Open Houses where over 100 local artists open their doors to the public. It’s a must see.

Do you have a preferred material? What do you love about it?
Smalti of course, the creme de la creme of mosaic material. For its’ vivid and rich colour palette, its’ light reflecting qualities, its’ irregular cut and textured finish.

Which moment satisfies you the most in your making process?
Tile to space – When you are established into a new project, you know where your going and it starts to flow. Like something else switches on in you, something bigger than yourself. Intuition maybe.

What is your preferred tool and why?
I have just completed a two week course at Orsoni in Venice so was able to master the hammer and hardy which is great but I think the most useful tool is tweezers!

What atmosphere do you need to be creative?
Quiet and light.

What inspires you?
Other peoples’ fearless endeavours to be creative and their ability to share that with others. Seeing others access the magic of creativity through mosaic making.

Which project would you love to do in the future? Which was the most satisfying one in the past?
I would love to make a huge totem pole for Brighton seafront. I recently produced a wall mosaic at a special needs school, the children were very humbling to work with and so enjoyed the project. We won an award for our achievements!

What is the nicest thing someone said about your work?
“Miss, that’s the most beautiful thing I have ever seen” said by a 7 year old at an inner city London school about a giant flamingo we were making for the playground.

You are Vice Chair of the British Association of Modern Mosaic. What are your aims?
To raise the profile of fine art mosaics and mosaic art for public spaces. To get funders, agents, collectors to notice and support the best in mosaic art. To support the continued excellence in mosaic making internationally by inviting speakers to share their experiences at our symposium.

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