You can be in no doubt that you have reached the home and workshop of Caroline Jariwala and Mango Mosaics. It's a joyful welcoming sight amidst the row upon row of lovely Victorian houses that make up much of Smethwick - her colourful creativity tumbles out of the front door festooning the walls and pathways with exuberant mosaics. It reminds me of the beautiful, intricate Rangoli that adorn doorsteps and entrances throughout India. Caroline welcomes you in and immediately you recognise that here is a woman possessed of her art! Her home overflows with colour and warmth and vibrancy. Her beautiful mosaics proclaim the influence of traditional Hindu symbolism and art, being so fluid and full of colourful movement. They represent an exuberant blending of Caroline's family nurture and her wide experience of study, travel and working within multi-ethnic communities. Mango Mosaics is beautiful in every way - a front door on an ordinary Birmingham street that leads you into wonderland.
Way back in 1984 Caroline did a foundation course in Art and Design followed by her BA hons. at Cardiff. She also has an MA in Art, Health and Well-being and qualified as a teacher in 1990. More recently she has been studying Practical Horticulture at Pershore College - here is a multi-talented woman with an absolute zest for learning and sharing. Caroline has worked on many community and health projects in the UK encompassing groups with diabetes, alzheimers, dementia and also with young people suffering attachment or mental health issues. She sees art - and very much the group 'hands-on' let's make something altogether - as a healing, life-affirming activity. She firmly believes that we all have creativity and art within us and the expression of our inner being through art to be healthy and beneficial to all. She explains that she likes to 'promote creativity in a non-threatening and accessible way, to enhance self-confidence and personal development'. Caroline's work has been displayed in galleries and museums across the UK and she has also worked on projects in Chile, Turkey, New Orleans and India. For herself she wants to carry on learning, experimenting and sharing across different countries and cultures and is always open to new influences that will extend her own knowledge and skill.
Caroline starts her one-day workshop with a welcome drink and a brief tour so everyone is quickly put at ease. She is adamant that all must wear protective goggles and gloves against the risk of ceramic shards flying about - this is immediately demonstrated. The group is shown the various ways to cut tiles or crockery using three basic bits of equipment, side biters, scorer snappers and a small carbide glass cutter and everyone practises to become familiar with the feel of the tools. For herself, Caroline uses a technique called picassiete - this literally means broken plates and she prefers the greater control over shapes this offers rather than only using ready-made tiles. She has a vast quantity to choose from and explains about the varying surfaces and glues that are suitable for mosaics and also using mesh. Caroline aims to have the group starting on individual projects within an hour or so as a busy day is ahead. Throughout the workshop Caroline answers a myriad of questions, bursts into spontaneous singing with much hilarity, encourages and advises - and of course provides drinks and tasty cake. It is amazing how quickly the time goes once everyone is busy mosaicing and before long there's a break for lunch and an opportunity for some reflection and sharing of life experience.
The afternoon simply flies by and everyone wants to have their own little project complete so the group quietens and concentrates. Caroline shows us how to go about grouting the finished item - this should not be done in a rush so she supplies dry grout to be taken home for later. She explains that the course is an introduction to some of the basic techniques and encourages us to carry on practising and developing our own skills and styles.
This is an excellent workshop to learn some initial ways to approach mosaics as an art form but perhaps more than that, Caroline's extrovert and flamboyant personality lights up the whole experience. Throughout the workshop she gives wholeheartedly of herself, sharing her creative joy, so that spending even just one day with Mango Mosaics becomes life-affirming and memorable.