Julee Latimer – Mosaic Artist Spotlight

Mosaic Handbag - Rosie

Mosaic Handbag - Rosie

How did you get into mosaics?

I saw a ‘How to Mosaic a Mirror Frame’ in a magazine and thought ‘I can do that’

How long have I been doing mosaics.

About 15 years or so.

Why mosaics?

It is the most exciting art form I have ever come across. It combines texture, light, colour and durability with plenty of bling. Its meditative most of the time, but like a good novel it can bring you to tears. After time away, I yearn to create, my fingertips itch and my mind overflows with the possibilities.

How have other interests / hobbies / careers influenced my mosaics?

The colour of emotions, the drama of theatre, the spirituality of yoga, the fun of fashion, the influence of astrology, the texture of knitting and the elusiveness of dreams combine with those heart stopping highs when I just know this is what I am meant to do.

That’s the good days. On the bad, I simply can’t fathom why I don’t do a normal job and I fantasize about a regular wage that doesn’t leave me wondering.

How and what inspires me?

The above influence me, they are my interests, my hobbies and my various careers. A line from literature or a song can spark many ideas Something overheard in a conversation can get me sketching. My inspiration comes from my sub conscious but is interwoven with my reality.

The world is a mosaic. When in harmony everything is balanced and fitting together perfectly. I strive for that.

What makes our work unique?

Mosaic offers so much more than other arts and crafts I have practised. How else to create a masterpiece and then expose it to the heat of an Australian summer or the intense cold of a Swedish winter. What other art form looks different depending on what time of day you view it, yet you didn’t imagine it. And what other art form can you use and abuse.

The time consuming nature of mosaic ensures thought, consideration, deliberation and soul go into each piece (and in some cases, a little blood thrown in for good measure).

And what other art form allows you to go completely bonkers, placing way too many tesserae on a piece and
then have viewers exclaim ‘how wonderful you are with stacking glass’ Love it.

What is the strangest thing I have ever mosaiced?

I make all my own substrates so I haven’t mosaiced anything unusual. I have sculpted chairs, handbags, shoes, busty ladies, enormous flowers and ladies in hats in the last few years.

Whose work, mosaics or otherwise do you admire?.

  • Verner Panton for the wacky retro patterns
  • Chanel in the Art Deco period for the incredible jewellery.
  • Burlesque theatre for the risqué
  • British Vogue for the edgy fashion
  • Bollywood for the gorgeous colour combos.

I have many mosaic books and look at mosaic images on various forums but, I don’t tend to look at mosaics for inspiration as such. I don’t teach that way either. If a student comes to class with mosaic pictures, I encourage them to use the images as a springboard only. I feel it destroys self exploration and doesn’t allow their work to evolve. This is always my biggest concern, for art of any medium and at any level to work, it needs to have personality and that should come from its maker. However, I do like the work of the following mosaic artists.

Sonia King for the use of one colour at a time Guilio Menossi for the portraits that rival photography and the remarkable abstracts Yulia Hanenson for the stacking
Lynne Chinn for the mix of tesserae Angela Zimek for the incredible ‘is it 3D’ ? Kim Wozniak for the concete panels Luz Mack-Durini for the elegance Jacqueline Isklander for the refinement and so many, many more that have slipped my mind at this time.

Do you sell your work?

At first this appeared to be the simplest of questions but I realise now its impossible to answer simply.

Do I?, have I?, do I want to?, do I yearn to?

Yes, yes, yes and yes. Are my works leaping off the studio shelves and gallery walls. Hmmmm…. I wish.

I spend a ridiculous amount of time and effort on my business marketing and publicity. My work has been in local papers numerous times, on the cover and inside ‘Mosaic Fine Art Abstracts’ and due for publication this year in two other books.

I am represented by respected galleries, enter numerous exhibitions, teach mosaic art and work with schools/colleges/communities and private clients yet, still, frustratingly have to work a part time job to keep it all together when I am sliding down instead of soaring up. I dream of assistants who are in love with computers and are friends with photoshop. Such is the life of a professional artist.

What advice would you give to others?

If you are in it for the money or enjoy a beautiful manicure or have limited patience or wish to retain some semblance of sanity, give up now. If however you are in it for the passion, the incredible flights of fancy, the wonderful way it transports you to another reality then keep on practising. Practice, practice, practice.

Always learn something from each piece. If its not working, start something else. I am at my best when I have 4 or 5 pieces on the go at once. Don’t overplan, step back and let your work evolve, be open to the possibilities.

Work in silence all (or at least, most) of the time. Your art is speaking to you, but are you listening?

Also (and I have to add this as it is one thing that I find so irritating about mosaics), don’t listen to others when they say portraits are the hardest mosaics to do. Everything is relative, try them if you wish. Don’t put them off because you feel you are not good enough. Or, if you like, don’t listen to me….. I only do the easy stuff!!

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Images by HONEphotography





Facebook www.facebook.com/juleelatimer

Flickr www.flickr.com/photos/juleesmosaics



CAE (Centre for Adult Education) Melbourne

http://www.cae.edu.auPublications Mosaic Fine Art Abstracts – Pam Givens and Irit Levy

International Contemporary Artists Volume Four (May 2012)

WIP Yourself Into a Mosaic Artist – Rayna Clark (Oct 2012) – This book will have chapters dedicated to different mosaic artists. In our chapter we will take you through the making of one of our pieces, from inspiration to finished artwork. Mine will be the making of Celeste (lady in hat – see above). If you wish to be informed when this book is released, please email me.


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