Katy is a Professional British Association for Modern Mosaic (BAMM) Member
Meet Mosaic Artist Katy Galbraith
What inspires you to create mosaics using recycled materials?
"I have always been a recycler and re-user, as were my parents, from making traditional patchwork quilts to doing up old houses with reclaimed finds, so it was a natural fit for me to work with repurposed materials."
"The Scots in me would say it is because it is free, and there is a benefit to that as it then makes the finished piece more affordable. If I were to buy new glass smalti from Italy, not only would it have a much bigger carbon footprint, but it is also much more expensive than a chipped mug! That said, I do buy new occasionally for specific projects if I cannot source reclaimed."
"The biggest benefit to me of using recycled materials, especially discarded crockery, is that it stimulates new ideas. People local to me in Perthshire often get in touch gifting me crockery after a clear out, or from their parents homes, wanting it to have another life in another way. And when I receive, say, a china cup, I can see it becoming a robin’s breast or a spangly flower. I now have shelves and shelves of plates and cups, ready for that moment."
"I also love that traditional patchwork quilt element, where each tesserae (tile piece) has a provenance. A few years ago, I was commissioned by the National Museum of Scotland, in Edinburgh, to make two floral panels with a specific recycling element. I managed to incorporate china from my parents and in-laws, things that my now adult children had decorated when young and wastage from ceramicist friends."
"I work from small and tiny, including hanging birds and flowers on reclaimed roof slates, to large commissions; private or community or schools. Sometimes, a client wants a clear idea of what the final image will be, other times it is more materials led, and so evolves as the making process progresses."
Terra Nova Project
"One such project was at the Terra Nova School, a prep school in Cheshire. The art teacher had done her research, and liked my use of recycled materials. She took the trouble to visit me in Scotland and we planned a way forwards. Initially she sourced stained glass off cuts from a stained glass artist as well as tiles and mirror from various tile shops and parents. She worked with all the older pupils, each creating a flower, bug, butterfly, bird, leaf etc, and I arrived and curated it into a riot of colour on an old brick wall. Each child also made and signed a ceramic leaf. Three days later we had the designated section of the wall transformed to a flower garden with a tree (and several owls on the branches). Months later, the grouting was completed by the parent support group. The joy of each child being able to show their parent their own flower was worth the long hours, and I was asked back a few years later to complete the wall and make another tree!"
What other kinds of projects do you work on?
"Each project or commission is different. During lockdown, I made several wall panels for private gardens. A couple were requested to be spangly, to be located in a way to reflect the light. I used a lot of gilt-patterned vintage china alongside mirror and wine bottle glass in these pieces."
"At the moment, I am making a lot of small pieces as I have Comrie Open Studios Thursday 8 September - Sunday 11 September 10am - 5pm, and then Christmas craft fairs will be upon us. I also have a couple of pieces for my own garden that I need to complete made from ceramic leftovers from other works ~ nothing goes to waste!"