Putting the pieces together to revive ancient art form

Rhona Duffy's dolphin mosaic in Aberdeen Harbour
Rhona Duffy's dolphin mosaic in Aberdeen Harbour

A Falkirk-based artist is at the forefront of a growing movement to revive the beautiful, ancient art form of mosaic.

Rhona Duffy creates mosaic art for gardens, memorials, interiors and community projects, as well as leading mosaic workshops in the Falkirk area.

Mosaic artist Rhona Duffy

Mosaic artist Rhona Duffy

And she is now encouraging even more people to try the art form.

Rhona explained: “The world of mosaic art is overflowing with new ideas and approaches and I’m very excited to be part of it.

“People need art to help give their lives more meaning and bring them joy. I also find making mosaic art to be very therapeutic and relaxing and it has great healing benefits.

“Over the years, it’s helped get me through some challenging times in my life.

“But no matter what I was feeling during those times, I was always able to find a place of happiness within me and express it through mosaic.

“Not only do I love making mosaics that people can enjoy in their homes, gardens and communities but I also like to share the joy of making mosaics by teaching other people so that they too can feel its healing benefits.”

Rhona, who works on a freelance basis in marketing and PR, is currently making the transition to being a full-time mosaic artist and teacher.

She also regularly leads workshops and takes an evening class for the Wider Access to Schools Project (WASP) in Denny.

Rhona said: “It’s fantastic to see the faces of my students when they’ve created a wonderful mosaic, especially if they say they think they’re not ‘conventionally’ artistic, and to hear how much they’ve enjoyed the process and how they too find it so therapeutic.

“It’s great the reaction you get from people.

“Often, they think they’re not creators and they can’t express themselves – then they make something amazing.”

Rhona loves different textures and bright colours, and uses lots of different materials in her work, from stained glass and mosaic tiles to bone china, ceramics and millefiori beads.

“A lot of the materials I use are recycled – I love giving old, forgotten things like slate and bone china a new lease of life,” she said.

It’s believed that mosaics were being made as long ago as 4000 years and many of the works of art made in ancient times have survived long enough for us to enjoy hundreds of years later.

Rhona is originally from Dublin but has lived in Falkirk for 15 years.

She said: “I don’t have a traditional artist’s background – I didn’t go to art school.”

However, when she was challenged to make a homemade present for a friend, she tried her first mosaic, an art form she had always loved, and very quickly became hooked.

These days her community art projects have included a life-sized dolphin which raised £7500 for the ARCHIE Foundation and the Whale and Dolphin Conservation as part of Wild in Art’s Wild Dolphins street art project in Aberdeen.

Rhona is among several artists who are part of organisations such as British Association for Modern Mosaic (BAMM).

It has been busy promoting and encouraging mosaic through exhibitions, publications and events.

And BAMM is holding its annual forum in Edinburgh this year for the first time since it was founded 18 
years ago.

Chairman David Tootill believes that mosaic will only grow in importance because “everything everywhere is beginning to look the same”.

He added: “While I’m not saying that every new building should include mosaic, we need developers and builders who know about architecture’s most expressive surface.

“Mosaic will help make our towns and cities stand out as places we’re supposed to live in.”

To find out more, visit www.bamm.org.uk or www.locomosaics.co.uk.