On Saturday I took a trip to the Scottish Gallery in Edinburgh to see an exhibition by contemporary mosaic artist, Cleo Mussi called Boody Ware. Cleo is an internationally recognised artist who graduated from Goldsmith’s in the late 1980s, where she had studied textiles. She has had a long-standing obsession with materials and making, and has been using found and discarded ceramics to create work over the past 30 years. She’s also been commissioned to create work for public spaces including The John Lewis Partnership in Solihull and The BBC Asian Network in Leicester.
According to Mussi, the name Boody Ware originally meant a piece of broken china, which was collected and given to children to play with in the 19th Century. Later in the century plates, jugs and boxes were often decorated with Boody Ware and it became quite fashionable. Here’s an example of 19th Century Boody Ware from the Tate’s British Folk art exhibition in 2014.
I first saw Mussi’s work on a visit to Bath’s Victoria Art Gallery, in 2011 and was completely blown away by the exhibition. For a start, the sheer quantity of work. Mussi often produces 100 pieces for her travelling exhibitions (some very large in size). This was also the case at the Scottish Gallery, although it’s a much smaller space so not everything could be shown at once. However, as a selling exhibition it’s meant that as some pieces have sold, others could be displayed.
It was fascinating looking at each piece and picking out familiar details of recycled crockery, like piggy bank faces, studio marks from the bases of teacups and lots of floral decorations…all beautifully and skillfully placed, often with a lot of humour. I couldn’t help thinking about where each small piece of pottery had come from, who had owned it, and the collection that Mussi must have herself, to choose from.
As well as recycled materials, recycling in nature is a theme that appears in the work. The idea that nothing is ever completely new. Everything is made from something which already exists…
If you’d like to visit, the exhibition runs until 30th April 2016. There are lots more great images of her work in the links I’ve included at the bottom of the page. Enjoy!
Cleo Mussi’s website: mussimosaics.co.uk
Interview with Cleo Mussi in Period Living
The Scottish Gallery website: scottish-gallery.co.uk