Why the name QEMAMU MOSAICS?
I wanted a name that was African inspired and something from my roots. I see myself as African, and of Caribbean roots born in the UK. I use to have an Ancient Egyptian naming book I named my children using this book. In the book I came across the name ‘Qemamu’ I thought it was a catching and unique name. I thought it would grab people’s attention and although difficult to pronounce it would stick in people’s mind. It would also have the added benefit of introducing people to a new language.
You began your journey in 2002 – How many Mosaics have you created?
I roughly have between 60 and 70 individual pieces recorded on my computer, ready to be catalogued.
How many have you sold?
I have sold quite a few of them and have kept photos of most of them.
Have you a favourite piece?
Yes ‘Nubian Goddess’ is my favourite piece.
If so why?
This piece depicts the mother of our planet presenting her child “Earth” to the cosmos and also showing that civilisation began in Africa. It also tells us a story, for the diligent seeker, that our ancestors were melanated beings and that without their existence we would not be here.
As a child were you busy creating things??
Oh yes, I did draw a lot as a child, and love colouring, and I still do.
Of all the materials you have worked with so far, which is your favourite material?
I really like using smalti. It cuts nicely and the range of colours are fantastic. It’s a material that’s made in Italy using traditional methods by mixing glass and various minerals and melting the mixture in a furnace. The molten glass is then poured onto a slab for cooling, and then cut by hand into rectangular pieces. Because of its uniqueness, I tend to use it for special pieces.
Do you think it has been beneficial for you being a member of the British Association of Modern Mosaic?
Yes it’s an organisation that has being going since 1999. There are a lot of professional artistes in the group and I wanted to learn from some of those well known artistes, how they started and so on. It’s also a great area for potential business opportunities, networking, promoting exhibitions and finding out new and exciting things in the mosaic world.
You have been featured in several publications, can you name a few?
Black Heritage Today, Lime and also featured on an on-line Blog entitled NaturiBeauty by founder Shelley Chapman of EatRelateLove.com
Why were you featured in the publications you named ?
Both features in Black Heritage Today and Lime were due to Black History Month celebrations. In 2010 I was featured in Lime an exhibition titled ‘sisters in spirit’. Lime also did an advert on an exhibition I took part in at Open the Gate based in Dalston in September 2010. The Black Heritage Today, did a two page spread entitled ‘A master class in mosaics’. Shelley Chapman of NaturiBeauty.com based in Atlanta at the time, contacted me and asked if I would like to be featured as Naturi Beauty for the month of October. Her Naturi Beauty blog was created to highlight entrepreneurial women who “unconventionally defy the norm, especially those who wear their natural hair ...” and those who have an interest to nuture themselves from crown to core.
How did you come about providing Mosaic workshops in schools?
Just by approaching schools, an idea I had when I was part of an event, I delivered a mini workshop to children, and they seemed to have enjoyed it so much. So I thought if these children enjoyed the workshop, so would others. This inspired me, so I set about contacting and asking schools if they would be interested in a mosaics workshop for pupils at their school.
Do your children and other members of your family also do Mosaics?
Yes, my daughter does mosaics, my son has done some too, but my daughter has shown a greater interest to do mosaics.
When you are not creating Mosaic what else do you do?
I work as a gymnastic instructor at a gym created for children aged from 4 months to 12yrs. I was a gymnastic when I was younger and then went on to do athletics for several years, but don’t do any of those activities now.
‘African culture provides your inspiration,’ what aspects specifically of African culture do you draw your inspiration from?
It’s the colours and the uniqueness of the people, the mixtures of our skin tones, colours of nature around us I love all that. Also, not forgetting our rich history.
What is it that excites you about creating Mosaics?
Not knowing how it is going to turn out having an idea in my mind and seeing how it is going to turn out. None of my work is pre planned, I create an idea and sketch it out roughly drawing on paper, then the outline then the colours and titles are laid. But sometimes, the order of things may change; I work in the moment and in the spirit.
Have you met other Black women working with Mosaics like you??
Yes, through my involvement with the British Association of Modern Mosaic, and also a couple of women have introduced themselves to me at a craft event and also a workshop I was facilitating.
Are you doing Mosaics as your full time career?
No, obviously I would love to, but for now I am doing this part-time until the time comes for that change.
What advice would you give to other women who may want to consider Mosaics as a career or creative outlet??
I would encourage them to do it, attend mosaics artiste’s workshops, learn from them, and be free to explore their interest. Choose the mosaic artistes you want to learn from, as each mosaic artistes crafts their work differently. But definitely follow that desire.
Take your time to discover which of the mosaics artistes’ styles you love and want to emulate until you find your own path.
Read books on mosaics and study the artform. Try and visit well-known places where mosaics are situated.
What do you want to achieve professionally?
I would like to have my own studio and be known within the mosaics industry and create mosaics for celebrities. I would love to do to do a mosaic for Tyra Banks, maybe mosaics on one of her fashion sets. Or for India Irie create a mosaic for her. I love the work of Oswald Boateng, the fashion designer, I love the way he put his accessories and mixtures of clothes together.
I want to work in Africa with children, teaching Mosaics to as many children as possible.
Where can we find out more about your work?
By visiting my website www.qemamumosaics.com