It is an art form that is thousands of years old. Mosaics were first discovered in ancient Mesopotamia. In that place tiny pieces of tile were found in a temple dating from the third millennium BC. Mosaic artwork, which involves using many small parts to create a whole, has changed somewhat over time but still has cultural significance all around the world.
Caledon’s MaryLou Hurley has always considered herself a maker of things. “I love nothing more than finding a use for something old and interesting” she admits. “I guess that makes me thrifty but some might call it creative! Over 20 years ago, I started decorating old furniture with colourful tile and I fell in love with the art of Mosaic.” The self-taught 35-year Caledon resident has been honing her skills ever since.
“Over the years, and inspired by all forms of mosaic, I have found that almost anything can be used to create a unique piece of art” MaryLou explains. “In the process, I am recycling the old and up cycling the almost new.”
She thinks of her own particular style as free style mosaic. Her creations are determined by the materials she has on hand whether that be glass, dishes, shells or jewellery. “It all makes the most colourful tessera” she says enthusiastically. “My substrates are also constantly changing. At present I am working on a mannequin and an old violin; and I have just completed a 12”x24” wood panel “Winter Birch”.
Being an art lover who loves to travel MaryLou says she has found herself mesmerized by the intricate mosaic work on the ceilings and floors of countless old European churches. “These works were made by using gold, marble and stone tesserae (pieces), using specific patterns (andamento) and very expertly inlaid to withstand the test of time” she explains.
MaryLou says her favourite mosaics are a more playful modern mosaic form called pique-assiette. Originating in France, the name signifies the ‘stolen pieces of plates’, that are used for tesserae.
As much of her inspiration comes from seeing the work of other mosaic artists around the world she has found that sharing media on Instagram has been very rewarding. The artist, who is currently working on her largest custom piece to date, a 48” round table top, also finds her student beginner artists a constant inspiration as she works with them to overcome their creative stumbling blocks.
Since she identifies the table top as the largest piece so far I cannot resist asking what is the smallest. “A small mosaic heart on a rock so my daughter could take a piece of me to live and work in Barbados” comes the answer with a big smile.
The pandemic has meant more time to spend in the studio but less time doing the shows and classes she loves. MaryLou is an artist member of Headwaters Arts Gallery (Alton), Beaux Arts Gallery (Brampton), and is an elected Member of the Colour and Form Society (Toronto). During the pandemic she participated in many of the on-line art shows held by these groups and looks forward to the resumption and live interaction of in-person art shows.
Marylou also posts work in progress on her Facebook and Instagram pages @maryloumosiacart
She invites you to email her at MaryLou.Hurley@gmail.com to make an appointment to visit her studio gallery and workshop nestled on a picturesque country lot on Innis Lake Road. She has many pieces for sale or maybe she will inspire you to make a mosaic of your own!