The quaint fishing village of Staithes on the North East coast will host the 6th annual Art and Heritage Festival over September 9th and 10th. The village was once home to a group of 20 to 30 artists known as the Staithes Group of Artists and the CBeebies series Old Jack’s Boat, starring Bernard Cribbins, was filmed there. Staithes will play host to 98 galleries in cottages and other buildings displaying work by 157 artists, and Lisa will be exhibiting her mosaics for the fifth consecutive year.
All artwork by Lisa Tindale
How did you first get into mosaics and what is it about this medium in particular that interests you?
A few years ago I went along to a mosaic making taster course run by a friend and by the end of the afternoon I knew this was for me. I like the freedom it gives, the possibility that each little piece of crockery can be worked into something special. Once you’ve learned the basic do’s and don’ts, you’re away, and every time you break a cup or a plate you’re delighted rather than distraught at the possibilities that chance disasters have opened up to you.
How would you describe your process? How long does it take to make each mosaic?
My process begins with deciding on the image I’d like to make. This year it’s all about fish and birds, nature being my inspiration. I draw and cut out a template of the bird and lay it on the tile and once I’m happy I think about the colours I’d like to use. The crockery I use has been collected over many years. It can be broken up wrapped in an old towel using a hammer and for smaller pieces, using tile nippers (goggles should always be worn). Once I am happy with the shape I remove the template and start to work on my design freestyle, gluing the pieces down. Working with mosaic takes a lot of patience, each piece taking many hours to complete. It’s only after leaving the glue for a full 24 hours that the grout can finally be applied. When it’s almost dry I wipe it down with a damp sponge and give it a polish with a soft cloth to see my latest design come to life.
You are exhibiting your work at the Staithes festival which is located on the North East coast, do you think there is a particular style of art which comes from this part of England?
I don’t think there is any particular style of art apart from the high proportion of seascape images that one would expect given the location. But the grey light of the sea and the sky, and the piled-up fisherman cottages are everywhere in the art. These images are re-painted so many times that they must be a strong symbol and memento for those that buy them.
How have your mosaics/artwork developed over time/have you responded to feedback from previous festivals?
My work has certainly developed over the years and I think I’m much braver now in what I attempt. This year I felt able to develop my ideas and move in a new direction with fishes and birds. In previous years many of my designs had been miniatures such as the boats and flower vases, or had featured straight line designs, such as the mini cutlery set into a tile. But now the larger scale I am working in has brought room and space to express movement.
The festival feedback over the years has always been positive but my real aim is to bring out my own ideas wherever they come from and wherever they take me. With so many artists exhibiting at these kind of exhibitions, it seems to me that the most important thing is to be original.
You mentioned you studied in interior design, could you explain a little more about how this background influenced your work?
Several years ago I studied interior design for a couple of years and the attention to small detail that is drilled into you is a useful discipline during the artistic process. I’m always thinking about colour and pattern – what works well together and what doesn’t – and because interior design is always so neat and precise it demands careful checking for imperfections in the finished pieces.
The crow in your mosaics is particularly striking, where did he come from, was there any influence from Ted Hughes’ poetry?
There’s a lot of love out there for the crow. It is very striking in a monochrome way. The idea for it came to me one morning while I was lying in bed and hearing a crow cawing in a nearby tree. It took a few moments only before I realized it was calling out to be put into a piece. Really I was thinking of a less sinister bird than Ted Hughes’ – mine is watchful and certainly a touch sinister but he’s no God – just another child of nature.
Do you think there is still a place for handmade art in the modern age of mass production?
Yes I do. In this over-saturated age, I think we need handmade more than ever. Buying handmade is a win-win situation: you enrich your life with beautiful things, and enable the artist to continue pursuing their creative dream.