A few years ago Corinna, a design and technology teacher, handed in her notice, left the security of her profession and its consistent salary, sold up in Norfolk – her home of 20 years, hopped into a VW Van, and crossed ten counties to “cruise the land in search of adventure and somewhere new to live.” She is now turning the ancient art of mosaic design into a career, turning a hobby into a full-time business.
Corinna first fell for pique-assiette a type of mosaic made with broken dishes, whilst pregnant with her 23-year -old son Felix. “I made a pretty dodgy picture frame, but I was hooked,” says the ‘thief of plates’. However, it would take another four years before she had another proper go at it – after her mother bought a big farmhouse and provided her free reign to cover every empty space with mosaics, from the bathroom to the garden and everything in-between. “Once Felix started school, I really started smashing things up in earnest and the mosaic passion took hold,” she adds.
Making wonderful images and meticulous contemporary pieces of work through assemblage, she breathes mosaic life into bull and sheep skulls, upcycles furniture and repurposes the unwanted as well as treasures held dear. “I’m much more experimental now with mixing media and have moved on from just using standard unglazed ceramic tiles,” says Corinna who regularly transforms the recycled into the spectacular to create a cohesive whole which can look like one thing at a glance and quite another on closer inspection: A mirror, commissioned for a neighbour’s family uses their granny’s chipped tea set and incorporates precious little details in the form of her buttons and trinkets, ingrained within it.
Inspiration can also strike at any time and unexpectedly, from the beach to a car boot sale. “There’s an amazing refurnish shop near me that I can’t go past without having a look inside. Sometimes finding a certain plate or pattern will inspire what I make but friends are always giving me old and broken china so, before you know it another idea has crept in and I’m off in a new direction”.
Corinna’s new home just outside Totnes, is now burgeoning with a modern mosaic menagerie, inside and out. Her studio is bursting with life’s leftovers, crockery, beads and glass which allow her to Paint in tesserae, She uses the shape and direction of a piece to suggest the texture of a badger’s fur and turns a curve in a plate into an anatomical one – from a whale’s tail and a lobster’s claw to a woman’s buttock!