Cleo Mussi : Botanicals

07-10-2023 - 07-11-2023

Cleo Mussi is a maverick ceramic artist creating unique mosaics, marshalling historical shards of china into contemporary stories that reflect the World around us. Cleo’s work takes you on a journey of discovery from her life size gestural figures to small intimate works, all drawn from historical repurposed ceramic tableware. She explores narratives mapped from her personal journeys through history, science, art and nature, exploring the surface and the underbelly of key themes in anthropology and humanity. The work holds cross cultural references in fashionable design , travel and commerce and represents the story of industrial ceramic history. Chinese ceramic meets Wedgewood, Poole sits next to Japanese porcelain and Staffordshire unites with Homebase to form a unique and motley collection of work.

Cleo has created as a key work for this exhibition, a life size mosaic figure using the repurposed ceramic tableware, inspired by a legendary figure called The Burry Man, a central figure in an annual ceremony or ritual, the Burryman's Parade. Tradition holds that The Burry Man who parades in the annual pagan procession at South Queensferry will bring good luck to the town if they give him whisky on his procession. The figure is covered from head to toe in burdock heads (Arctium Lappa) with a flower crown, and flower staffs to aid movement, and he is accompanied by two attendants, walking for 9 hours covering about 7 miles.

The exhibition of charming, colourful mosaics, titled ‘Botanicals’ also explores how plants were introduced for culinary, medicinal and therapeutic purposes as weeds along migratory paths and are established as part of our diverse culture. They are linked with folklore, superstition and agricultural toil. The British landscape has evolved since pre-history with migration and the conscious and unconscious sharing of knowledge and plants from Europe and further afield.

We exhibited Cleo Mussi’s work in Compass Gallery many years ago and this will be her first solo exhibition with us. Cleo trained at Goldsmiths College though is self taught in mosaic. Her works are held in private collections worldwide and in many public spaces throughout the UK and include commissions for John Lewis in Solihull and The BBC Asian network in Leicester. Cleo was a selected AWARD artist represented at The British Ceramics Biennial in 2021 and her recently published book ‘Mussi Mosaic Manufactory’, a 200 page retrospective with over 500 images represents the last thirty-four years of her career.

Photography by Alexander Caminda, Jacqui Hurst and Peter J Stone.