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Andamooka Trish and the Broken Dish

The book

Andamooka Trish and the Broken Dish is a narrative about beginnings, combined with an instructional text to create mosaic using broken crockery. Abundant illustrations convey the circumstances and describe community engagement in a small town in the Australian outback. Broken crockery is cemented by friendship to create a community of artists.

Andamooka, in South Australia’s arid zone, is famous for Opal fossils from the Mesozoic Era. During the Covid times, Andamooka artists didn’t fossilise, they created. One of Andamooka’s creatives is Trish. Trish is a long-term resident of Andamooka, a local with a recent immersion in mosaic art.

During 2018 and 2019 (pre-Covid time), Trish participated in mosaic workshops and exhibited in Andamooka’s SALA (South Australian Living Artists) Festival Exhibition. More than six hundred kilometres from the capital city of Adelaide, Andamooka is a small community with a population of 316 (according to the 2016 census).

Andamooka Boo-teek is an award-winning opportunity shop managed by the CWA (Country Women’s Association) members. The Andamooka Boo-teek offers second-hand clothes, toys and furniture for sale. Also, kitchen utensils, including crockery. Crockery for mosaic!

Trish had a chat with the CWA team and struck up a deal for first refusal of incomplete dinner sets or any crockery that was chipped or broken, rather than those chipped items going to landfill. Trish collected and sorted; grouped stacks of crockery according to colour/texture and stored her crockery and collected some more. Kitchen and bathroom tiles from the local dump were transported home; cleaned, sorted and stacked.

Andamooka people are resourceful and resilient and quite used to repurposing and recreating. Trish put the word around that she was looking for glass, tile and crockery and the donations flooded in. This amount of support for Trish’s desire to learn a new skill could be because Trish is always helpful to others.

Written by Heather Gordon
Artists: Trish Curnow, Debbie Warren, Donna Waters, Maria Ames, Chad Addington, Lily Kemenyvary, Robby Towill and Heather Gordon
ISBN: 9780645125016
Published: 2022
Created in Australia
Available in e-book

The story behind the book

Winter 2018, after many years of promises, Heather sat with Trish under the veranda of a wonderfully quirky Andamooka house and the Basic Mosaic class commenced. Donna, Debbie, Chado, Seb, Lily, Summer and Mel joined Trish. Trish’s passion for mosaic art was soon evident.

Trish exhibited her first mosaics during the SALA (South Australian Living Artists) Festival Exhibition at Andamooka during 2018 and again during 2019 as well as contributing to the art display in the Andamooka Hall for His Excellency the Honourable Hieu Van Le AC, the Governor of South Australia’s visit on 18 June 2019.

Heather returned to the Barossa and her air-conditioner for the Summer. When Trish had the time, space, and the Andamooka weather had moderated from outrageously hot upper forties (degrees Celsius) to mid-thirties with far more suitable conditions for adhesives and grout, Trish needed answers to mosaic questions. Heather wasn’t always responsive to text messages sent late at night when it was cool enough for Trish to mosaic.

While Trish considers face-to-face classes are the best way for her to learn, she wanted a reminder for some of the processes when life was busy and/or it had been a long time between grouting sessions, or some crockery proved a little more difficult to use than others. As well, when Trish wanted to show others in the Andamooka community how to do mosaic, Trish felt she needed a “how-to” document with all the reminders in an accessible format.

Heather had teaching notes about basic mosaics she’d previously shared with her classes in the Barossa, Mid-Murray, Outback and Northern Adelaide regions. Heather wanted others to experience the excitement of commencing the journey into mosaic, the processes along the way to the full reveal accomplished with the polishing of the finished mosaic. All with limited resources.

Voila! A book idea to discuss with another experienced mosaic artist to verify the instructions, offer an opinion, state preferences for substrates, hand tools, adhesives and grout. Hooray for Robby at Bee Happy Art Studio for contributing to the editing process.

“I met Heather Gordon on a visit to her fabulous mosaic abode in Nuriootpa, in the Barossa. We have remained friends ever since. She’s that kind of lady, welcoming and friendly.

The first time I saw Heather’s place it was magical and I was in awe of her dedication to mosaic her house in her 10 year plan. Each wall is adorned with colourful crockery and tile, in a myriad of colours and designs.

There is something about mosaic, that brings people together, it is a community that I am glad to be part of. The sharing of resources, materials and ideas.

 Brain storming with other like-minded souls to tackle a particular project. Mosaic is a world-wide community as well. Mosaic artists have often answered the call to be part of a fund-raising effort or collaboration to make a small mosaic that is then added to a larger work. I have been involved with many over the years, as have Robby Towill and Heather Gordon.

In the same spirit of sharing knowledge and ideas, Andamooka Trish and the Broken Dish, is a fantastic resource, teaching the basic skills required to make your first mosaic. It’s all there, the tools and materials you will need to assemble. Advice on what to use as a substrate and also importantly what NOT to use.

The photos and artwork will inspire you to make your own mosaic with confidence. Give it a go, you’ll soon be hooked!“

Julie Aldridge