A lady of many talents with a passion for mosaics, this month we have been to visit Angela Bolton in her lovely studio…
“I have been making mosaics since 2002 and painting for as long as I can remember. I have probably attended just about every art based evening class going. In the last 10 years I have studied pottery, enameling, sculpture, stained glass window and terrarium making, water colour and oil painting, woodwork, pyrography,calligraphy and photography. But none has taken over my life the way mosaic has.”
Do you have positive/negative memories of art when you were at school?
Very positive. At primary school a lovely teacher called Mrs Cornford took our class to Fishbourne Roman Palace and while I was there I did a detailed pencil drawing of one of the floors which she liked so much she had it framed. It hung in her classroom for years and was still there when I left.
At secondary school I won the art prize every year for my house and was given special permission to do extra art classes when I should have been doing P.E.
What would your school report have said about your art?
My reports always said the same thing; Angela is a talented artist but never finishes anything, works best with a deadline.
Did you go on to further education in art or are you self-taught?
I went to Eastbourne College of Art and Design straight from school. I did a foundation course and really loved pottery but I didn`t think I could make a living at that so I chose graphic design. It was academic in the end because I dropped out after the first year to get married.
With the mosaics I am mainly self taught but I did do a one day workshop which I was given as a Christmas present.
What or who has inspired you over the years?
My Mum was my biggest inspiration, she was always so proud of everything I did and encouraged my artistic side from childhood.
What Artists do you admire?
I love the work of Antoni Gaudi, especially the amazing Sagrada Famillia and the Casa Batllo in Barcelona.
What is your favourite piece of work (yours and someone else)?
I have two favourite artists, Alphonse Mucha who was an Art Nouveau painter and Ed Org a contemporary artist but I don`t have a favourite piece of work.
What has been the highlight of your artistic career so far? What are you proud to have achieved?
The little shop I had at the front of the Lido was the highlight so far. I had such a huge cross section of people and ages, every day was a joy. My youngest artist was a little boy of 18 months who came in every week with his dad and my oldest was a lovely lady who told me in confidence that she was 96! I even had a group of 17 year old lads who came in to make Valentine heart mosaics for their girlfriends.
What have you sacrificed for your art?
I sacrificed a lot of family time when I had the shop but mostly it has been the other way round. I was a foster carer for ten years and there was certainly no time for art of any kind then.
What’s the best bit of advice that has been given to you?
Don`t put off till tomorrow things you could do today.
What advice would you give to an aspiring artist/craftsperson?
I would say try as many art forms as possible to see how they make you feel. Don`t do anything just because you`re good at it, do it because you can`t stop doing it. When you find the right thing it`s like an addiction and your life isn`t complete without it.
How do you start a piece of work?
It depends what it`s for. If it`s a commission I start by talking to the customer and then doing a drawing. If it`s for an exhibition or a competition with a theme I study that first and if it`s for me inspiration can come from almost anywhere.
When is it finished?
It`s finished when the last piece goes in. That`s where mosaics differ from most other types of art, there is no second chance, you can`t rub anything out or go over anything, once a piece is stuck down you`re committed, only the colour of the grout can change things after that.
Do you have a mantra, quote or line from a song that best sums up what your art means to you?
A quote by William Morris is what I keep in mind when producing my art, it reads “ have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful”.
Does music help with your creativity? If so what would you choose to listen to whilst working on a piece?
I work mainly in silence, I find music distracting.
What is your favourite medium to work with/in?
I work mainly with ceramic tiles but also stained glass, mirror, semi-precious stones, shells, broken jewellery and anything else I feel will enhance a piece.
Do you have a lucky or favourite something that you use that has been with you forever?
Yes I have a favourite cut and snap tool that I have used since I first started, it is perfect for me because it was designed for small hands unlike the man size ones they make now. A few years ago the company that made them went out of business and I was using my last one which was really sad because I knew that when it eventually broke I would struggle with the new ones and may have even stopped making mosaics. Then by chance I discovered a company on ebay selling old stock and I now have 20 which makes me very happy.
Are you living your dream through your art or do you have one – what do you strive for?
Not quite living the dream because I don`t make a living from it yet but I have a beautiful studio at home opening onto a large decked area where I can make mosaics outside in the summer so I have no complaints.
Is there anything you avoid with your art?
I don’t like work to take too long because I lose momentum and it stops being a fun process.
Thank you so much Angela for taking part in our blog, your work is stunning and the patience required… amazing! Please see below the link to Angela’s website.