Pictured above: Cut to the Core
Barb Uhlenbruch writes about mosaic and the human condition; the emotions and inspirations behind her recent piece Cut to the Core.
WRITTEN & NARRATED BY BARB UHLENBRUCH
Listen to Barb narrate her article:
This artwork, like many before it, began with the thought: “I have this strong emotion”. And then with another: “What can I do with it?”. In this case, it was grief and its unwelcome bedfellows’ sadness, anger, fear and loss. “Shattered” came to mind quite often. For other of my works, the thoughts or feelings have been wonder, triumph, despair, relief, even love. Sometimes they are purely mine, sometimes they belong to others. I get exposed to this a lot in my work as a family doctor. The human condition is, for me, a rich source of inspiration for my art.
Like many artists, I can spend quite a bit of time in my head and I can have a strong emotional reaction to the world around me. This is the double-edged sword of the creative mind, especially when these empathic strengths connect one with the hard stuff.
One way to make sense of it all is to make art. Not just any art though. Mosaic art. Because this particular art form, which involves taking something, breaking it, then thoughtfully and purposefully reassembling it, allows expression like no other. It is tactile, reflective of light in a dynamic way and speaks through carefully chosen andamento rhythms. Sometimes it will even echo the inner experience of the observer, and that truly is the magic of art. A shared connection. In this case, the shared experience of that human condition.
Practically speaking, my works recently have been made from some large chunks of discarded marble I found in a rubbish skip next door to my parent’s place. Thank you universe! This particular marble does not cut cleanly and the first works I made with it left a large collection of irregular pieces. That was the genesis of a new series of works. I used carefully chosen irregular pieces in different sizes, with different spacings, and sometimes let the background speak a bit louder. The appearance is akin to cracked dry earth or carefully laid out rubble. Gold smalti often features in my work and will usually represent hope in some way. In this work, it represents the flip side of grief. That is, what really matters to you. Another version of the double-edged sword. When grief cuts to the core, shatters, this gold helps with the reassembling. It can be quite subtle this gold, hard to come in contact with, but it is there, right at the core.
Barb Uhlenbruch is an artist based in Melbourne, Australia, who works primarily in the medium of mosaic. Over 20 years of practice her works have evolved to her current unique style of abstract contemporary mosaic. She balances this with a part-time career in medicine as a family doctor.