Artist and Workshop Profile by Pamela Irving
It wasn’t until after graduating from the University of Melbourne with a Bachelor’s of Education and a Master’s of Arts in 1989 that Pamela Irving believes her education truly began.
“My early interest in mythology has led me on a course of looking at ancient Roman mosaics. I am interested in their form, function and storytelling. Though my own work looks very different to the ancient Roman works, I reference them and my ceramic background as much as possible. The work of the ancient practitioner is my constant teacher and muse.”
Pamela Irving is well known throughout the world for creating works that are full of color and character, whimsy and subversion. Her large-scale installations can be seen around the city of Melbourne, most notably at Luna Park and Patterson Station (an international mosaic mural collaboration which she facilitated over several years). Pamela has also exhibited here at the Gallery of Contemporary Mosaics in shows such as Contemporary Virtuosos, Savage Curiosities, GoCM at Gallery 1070 and more.
Pamela first came to The Chicago Mosaic School in 2011 to give a public lecture, and has been with us ever since. Picassiette: Storytelling in Mosaics with Pamela Irving is an annual CMS workshop where students are given a story and then asked to express that story using broken or unbroken shards and objects that they may have a personal connection with. Year after year this workshop is filled with eager students. What makes Picassiette so successful?
“I think the students enjoy the fact that they make their own works rather than a set theme or one technique. My workshop is not designed to get students to learn any one skill; it is intended to allow students to explore their own ideas. The students can employ any number of techniques and materials and skills that they have learned in other CMS classes. I hold the belief that everyone needs to know some techniques, however what I think is more important are developing ideas. Once you have an idea, then you will find an appropriate technique and material to create that idea visually. I am interested in fostering people to develop their own story/ideas and to find the right materials and form in which to do that. I think my approach to teaching can help students to loosen up and make shifts in their thinking about their own work and what is a mosaic. I think the workshop is evolving and I want to continue to evolve it. As my own works grow and change, obviously my teaching changes. I like to teach by example.”
While Pamela is most well known for her physical art, she still looks at the art world through an Art Historic lens:
“I am keen to introduce CMS students to the richness of Australian Art. One thing I have noticed is that during my Fine Arts degree we studied American Art but that is not reciprocated in your art education institutions. While Australian Art parallels the American and European Art movements, we have some incredible practitioners that I think the students at CMS would benefit from seeing and hearing about. I hope to introduce the CMS community to some people who might change their American centric view of Art history.”
While we love Pamela coming to CMS, it’s good to know that she loves us too:
“CMS is such a unique place. I think it is a very exciting creative community to be part of, where ideas, techniques, history and forms can be and indeed are explored in so many way… where all the different approaches are embraced and validated.”