Ever longed to create a beautiful, personal work of art for your garden or home? Mosaic artist Frances Taylor can show you the way.
From her tranquil haven-cum-studio in Otley, Frances runs workshops teaching the art and craft of mosaic-making. People come from throughout the county and country to take part, and there might be three people in a group or up to 12.
“It’s mainly women over 30,” Frances says. “Occasionally a man, occasionally children – they are not really aimed at children, although above eights can do them.”
Mosaic-making requires patience as it takes around three hours to set down a small 15cm square design. Some workshoppers come with their own ideas about what they would like to make, while others choose a design from one of Frances’s many templates, perhaps featuring a bird, or a boat, a flower, a classical theme – plenty to inspire.
“They can be complete beginners or with experience, and they can make gifts for the home or garden, like outdoor paving stones, indoor wall plaques, picture frames … You can mosaic almost anything,” she says.
Some come in pairs or small groups – mums and daughters, sisters, friends, the local WI, for example – but Frances also runs sessions for specific groups, working with charities and community organisations, so she hosts workshops for women at risk of offending, victims of violence, homeless people, refugees, those with alcohol and mental health problems, and also for elderly people’s support groups, such as Otley Action for Older People.
“People get to come and do something different and they learn something,” Frances says. “They can chat and they meet people in similar backgrounds and circumstances so it’s confidence building and networking.”
As a mosaic artist, Frances also works on commissions and community projects, and her creations can be seen across Yorkshire and further afield, in parks, schools, community premises, in shops and businesses, private gardens and homes, providing talking points as they decorate spaces and commemorate events, people and places.
In the 10 years that she has been working as a freelance mosaic artist, she has created dozens and dozens of mosaics, often working with people in the community to help them make their ideas come to life in glass, ceramics or pebbles. There’s a good chance that you have already seen her work in your local park or school as Frances specialises in participatory community and school mosaics, for indoors and outdoors, making mosaic paving and wall mounted works, 3D sculptures and furniture. She often works with schoolchildren, gathering their ideas for a mosaic and then coming to the school to help them make it. All the materials are non-toxic and non-hazardous.
She has created designs for the Chelsea Flower Show and the Eden Project, and enjoys designing one-off mosaics for private gardens (a favourite is a mosaic of a fish pond made for a London garden whose owner wanted the effect of a pond without the danger and trouble of real water and real fish).
Frances also makes 3D mosaic sculptures and her life-size armchair, outside the Woolpack Music and Arts Studios on Bondgate in Otley (that’s where she runs her workshops and works on projects and as founder and director of the Big Hoo-Ha Company) has become a town landmark. “Everyone’s had their photograph taken on that chair,” she says. The other day a man pulled up in a van, brought out a yellow toy duck, placed it on the chair, took a photo, and then drove off again … not a word of explanation. But Frances doesn’t mind; she made it to be enjoyed.
Frances made her 3D dog when her own real dog, Gulliver, died (she’s got another dog now – Cally). It’s just been on loan, sitting in the Otley Bookshop’s window as part of an arts project – another town talking point.
From her huge collaborative mosaic pavings for public spaces through to miniature plaques with a personal message, Frances Taylor is creating art with real meaning, and helping others to do the same, so that everyone can have a little piece of the magic.
Frances Taylor’s mosaic courses take place every Friday and one Sunday a month, with prices starting at £15 a person, plus the cost of materials.