Back in October on our popular ‘What’s On’ weekly feature we listed an art exhibition at the Dill & Bay restaurant of local artist Mary Goodwin. Mary is a mosaic artist and when we featured a couple of images on our facebook page, the response we received was amazing.
We contacted Mary and asked her to share a few more pictures of her art and answer a few questions about her life in Rothwell and her career as an artist.
LS26 Local: Hi Mary, first question has to be, how did your love of art begin?
Mary: I’ve always loved art, whether I was conscious that I was loving art I’m not sure but as a child I painted and drew and wrote and made stuff a lot. I studied it formally up to A-level but it wasn’t something I considered taking any further. I’d always been interested in geography as well so I ended up with a degree in Countryside Management as you do. After I graduated I went travelling for a year which led on to another year teaching English in Japan. When I returned I did my teacher training in Leeds and got my first job at Rothwell primary, which is where my connection with South Leeds lies. I worked as a teacher for nine years, teaching in Rothwell, The British school of Amsterdam and Matimba Teacher Training College in Rwanda through the Voluntary Service Overseas program. It was a profession that I initially felt creative in and passionate about but ended up feeling fed up and exhausted of the system. I think being an artist was something ‘other people’ did in my head. It wasn’t until I came across a mosaic mural in Uganda on a trip that I had even thought about making mosaics. I came back to England from Rwanda in 2014 and began making mosaics in between teaching part time back in Rothwell. The more I made the more I learned as I went along. I came across Seagulls Reuse in Kirkstall in 2015 who were involved in some community mosaic projects around Leeds. I got involved as a volunteer initially but the projects have been so successful that I now work for them designing, preparing and facilitating community mosaic projects and running their monthly mosaic workshop. Mosaicing for a living can be solitary and sometimes lonely so it’s nice to have a balance with the community work which exposes me to loads of different people throughout Leeds. At a similar time of discovering Seagulls I met an established mosaic artist in Manchester called Mark Kennedy. I stopped in my tracks when I first saw one of his pieces and proceeded to go and find him! I was about to start a mosaic for a wall at Rothwell primary school but hadn’t done anything like that before so asked him for some advice. We became friends and have since done loads of work together; I’ve learned a lot from him as you can see when you look at the portraits I’ve made. His most well known mosaics are on Affleck’s Palace and roundabout in the Northern Quarter, Manchester…they’re brilliant.
LS26 Local: Are there any other different forms of art that you either enjoy creating or simply appreciate?
Mary: I occasionally paint and years ago most of any art work I did would be drawings. Since my ‘moment’ in Uganda I have just focused on mosaics.
There’s tones of art I appreciate and enjoy, I was into artists like Picasso, Dali, Escher, Hockney and ancient art from the Egyptians at school. Throughout my travels I’ve seen art from loads of different cultures, really beautiful art and crafts. I appreciate any art that challenges and makes me think, that makes me wonder how it was made or just makes me stand in awe when you look at it. I’m also interested in the stories behind the work what has motivated the artist.
I love street and public art. It’s been exciting to be involved in so many projects through Seagulls in Leeds and with Mark in Manchester. I’d love to make more pieces of my own in and around Leeds in the future. I think mosaics have a unique feel about them, they are soulful to me and I enjoy the entire process.
Instagram has opened a whole world up; it’s a great platform to see what other artists are doing. I like to see other mosaic and stained glass work especially.
LS26 Local: What is the process for creating a piece of Mosaic art? Do you sketch a rough idea and then build from there? How long do they take to create?
Mary: Design, sourcing the right materials, drawing/prepping, the size of the piece, even how you’re feeling and your personality will contribute to how long one will take to make. The mosaic I made for the wall at Rothwell primary school took a year but you can make a small mosaic in an hour…it’s so variable. Like most things, the more you do it the more familiar it becomes so you do get quicker; deciding on and getting the design right is often the most time consuming part.
I run a mosaic workshop for Seagulls Reuse once a month where I show people the basics in making a mosaic of their choice. You can book via their website if you’re interested.
LS26 Local: You recently did an exhibition in Rothwell, how did that go?
Mary: I did and it was a lovely evening thank you, it was well supported by family and friends and a few other locals who’d heard about it. It was a great opportunity to get my work out there a bit more and I sold a few pieces. I’m grateful to Simon the owner at Dill and Bay restaurant who suggested and hosted the night.
LS26 Local: Where else have you exhibited and do you have any more planned for the future?
Mary: I’ve not formally exhibited anywhere else as such. A year or so ago I displayed some of my portraits in Fired Earth’s window in Manchester which was a great success. My friend who made that happen now works at ‘Period Homestyle’ in Stockport, so most of them are for sale there. I hope I have more in the future but nothing in the pipeline yet…I need to make a new collection!
I’m really interested in making some public art for Woodlesford and Leeds – if anyone has any contacts or places they know that would grant permission please get in touch…I’m working on it as well.
LS26 Local: Your art received some great feedback from our facebook page, if somebody wanted to buy one of your designs, how would they go about it? Do you have a website etc?
Mary: That’s nice to hear, thank you! I’m not quite at website stage yet, hoping to be one day. If anyone is interested in any of the pieces they’ve seen they can send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or if they’re in the Stockport area, visit Period Homestyle. I’m happy to send pictures of my work. I also upload my work onto Instagram under the name maylizgood.
LS26 Local: Do you create commissioned, custom mosaics for people?
Mary: I do yes… anything is possible!
LS26 Local: Finally, any advice for anyone who would like to venture into this field of art themselves?
Mary: Have a go. I don’t think that advice applies exclusively to mosaics either. If you don’t try something you’ll never know if it’s for you or not will you? Enjoy the process and see where it takes you. They’re not something that you can make half heartedly, so you’ll know if it’s something you want to pursue. Art should be a place of freedom, so feel free; do what you like, being creative is healthy…don’t let your brain tell you that you can’t or shouldn’t do it.
Thank you to Mary for answering our questions and of course sharing her artwork with us. Any future exhibitions from Mary will be announced on the LS26 Local website.
If you are a local artist and would like to share your work get in touch with us via our contact page we love to feature local artists in any field so don’t be shy!