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Bits and pieces and the juxtapositions of life

Making a mosaic is a lot like living life.

Woah, deep and existential maybe, but strangely enough, true. Think of every piece of your life - your loves, your work, your passions, your hobbies, your home, your politics, your beliefs, etc. All those parts that maybe overlap a little, or perhaps don't touch on each other at all. All those components that you have to make space for. All those oddments that you need to attend to, yet which often seem mutually exclusive. If you think of all those daily bits and pieces as the tesserae of your life, as the collected pile you use to form and shape and give substance to your existence, then mosaic creation and life begin to look pretty damn similar.

Especially to me when sitting in my studio, all alone except for Radiohead, trying to create a harmonious and visually pleasing mosaic out of a confused and eclectic medley of bits and pieces (something the fascinating Radiohead seems to have mastered in sound). My work in the studio follows the before-school morning ritual where the four of us get in each other's way in the kitchen, trying to work out who is doing what, who needs a ride where and when, and who is cooking tonight's dinner. This ritual seems to require a fair bit of stubborn grumbling from the teenager, a dramatic flounce or two from the pre-teen, and quite a bit of to-ing and fro-ing (also known as yelling and appeasing) between the two adults as we strive to make our disparate bunch of individuals feel, or at least behave, like a loving family.

Like the tesserae, we are different, and, in art as in life, harmony is not always an available option. As a mosaic artist I have to work at making sure each tessera fits in it's perfect place, and then the piece next to that must fit, and so on. The pieces are either in the right place or they are not, and it isn't always easy to find that right place, or that wrong piece. As each tessera adds to the whole artwork, I also have to remember to watch the mosaic as it grows, to be sure that each piece is contributing to the whole, not undermining it. So too with life stuff, don't you think?

Most of us juggle with these bits and pieces daily, or these daily bits and pieces, possibly hoping that somehow, somewhere, from some far away corner of the cosmos, that the picture of our life, the whole, looks beautiful, or at least interesting. Which is what I find myself currently pursuing at my work table. If it can't be beautiful please, please please please, at least let it be interesting. That certainly sounds a little defeatist to begin with, doesn't it? I do feel like I'm still a player in the war, (and isn't that a truly bizarre expression??) but this battle is forcing me to retreat and regroup. Right now I'm huddled in a foxhole somewhere, eating dry rations and ducking for cover.

My major challenge at the moment, in pursuit of the harmonious whole, is that I hate blue and green. Just together, you understand. Individually I love them, but side by side, blue and green, I struggle. Do you remember that old fashion tip, "blue and green should never be seen." I believe that completely, and have tried to live my life by that rule always. And yet I seem to be stuck in the middle of creating a blue and green mosaic. I'm not quite sure how that happened, but I have an image in my head of the classic mid-life crisis and the unexpected realisation that half my life has gone and I am caught in a situation of my own making but which I no longer recognise. A blue and green mosaic was never in my life-plan.

Like life and my family, not all the bits go together in a good way. Some joinings are a little rough around the edges but will probably survive, some joinings are positively poisonous and evil, and some few, bless them, just sing, right off the bat. When the green in the blue echoes the blue in the green. When the hard is softened by the gentle and the gentle finds strength in the hard. When the glass pulls in the light just so and the mirror spreads it back. These meetings of these tesserae, these harmonious joinings, this is the real work of creating a mosaic. And this, I believe, is the real work of living a life.

"I want to make that look effortless, and I want to make it look serene and I want to make it look calm and peaceful. So that's the challenge, because, it's not calm and peaceful when it's being made. It's fraught with a high level of anxiety. But, ultimately, it'll come out in the end."

Sonia King, mosaic guru.

Aaaah, those words. Effortless. Serene. Calm. Something to strive for. Breathe, Heather, breathe.

And yes, I am aware it is not Friday!! I have changed my posting day to Tuesday, starting today. I start teaching soon on Friday mornings, so I thought I might get the change in early. Wouldn't want to get stuck in a rut!

Don't forget the new comment box over to the right there. I would love to hear how you juggle the little bits and pieces in the making of the good life.

Please have a look at the wonderful work of Sonia King.

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