Artist of the Month – February 2014

(Reproduced with kind permission of Mosaic Association South Africa)

Marthli Venter :  MASA BEST ON SHOW 2011

A Fine Balance by Marthli Venter: BEST ON SHOW 2011

What started you in mosaics or drew you to the mosaic art form?

 I went to an exhibition in East London about 12 or 13 years ago where I saw these amazing mosaics and got totally hooked. I enrolled into a mosaic class immediately and literally started with a bang! My friend, Jill Buckler, had a special birthday, so as a surprise we got sent to the first mosaic exhibition held in 2009 at Mosaic Arts – that was the last nail in the coffin! We were one of the first to register as Active members of MASA!!!


What inspires you and/or keeps you mosaicking?

What inspires me is a mouth-full. Normally I get a feeling (sounds stupid?) when I see something special – be it a photo, a painting or even an advert in a magazine. It gives me the have-to-be-needs-to-be mosaiced sign and that’s it – I’ll get going immediately!!! (or as soon as possible!!!)

Moms Magnolias: Winner 2 Dimensional (Open) 2011

What is the highlight (or highlights if there is more than one) of your mosaic career to date?

Oh! Definitely the phone call from Cher telling me that one of my mosaics was BEST ON SHOW and that Moms Magnolia’s had won its division! This mosaic is of a painting which I grew up with . My mom bought the painting of Pierro Garizio when I was 11  or 12 years old and I had gone along that day. I remember the discussion about magnolia flowers and the amazing colours in the painting. I always loved that painting..and then just like that, out of the blue, I decided that I was going to mosaic my own Pierro Garizio. I thought that  I was never ever going to get it “just right”. I still think this  mosaic is the best work I’ve done! 


What are your mosaic aspirations?  What do you still want to achieve, learn or attain?

I still need to achieve the confidence to know what I’m good at, what I’m comfortable with, what’s missing and to be able to concentrate on that and to get it right in the long run. Should the opportunity present itself and I can find the time, I would attend different hands-on workshops with different teachers. This means I would learn different “technology” and different techniques, and by doing this – hopefully somewhere along the mosaic path I will get the missing “links” to help me out where I’m lost.


My first Bouquet: Highly Commended (Advanced) 2013

What are you busy working on now (from a mosaic perspective)? 

I’m working  on a 3-Dimensional mosaic and some parts were easy.(I love gardening) Other parts are a challenge because of the 3D effect,  so at the moment I’m still trying out different tiles, eggshells, paints and glues. 


Do you have a favourite technique in your mosaics?  If so, what is it and why.  If not, why not?

I don’t have a favourite technique. I tend to  cut very fine as I  love to make a tile fit and I love to use all sorts of different ingredients (materials) to spice-up a mosaic. I would be very grateful to be able to work 100% with smalti AND to be the master of my hammer and hardie!


First mosaic

Which is your personal favourite of all the pieces you have done and why?

My personal favourite mosaic is my version of my mom’s Pierre Garizzio’s painting of magnolias. It was a challenge of note. I really battled and often thought that I bit off much more that I could handle.(See above BEST ON SHOW 2011)


First mosaic face

What was your “biggest blaps” or mistake (in a piece,  in your mosaic career, etc)?

My biggest mistake was thinking I could mosaic a face right the very first time!!! Well needless to say after my poor attempt on my own and a workshop with Andjelka just doing an eye, I realized that there’s plenty room for improving!!! I will try again because somehow I always want to paint, draw, mosaic faces!!!


What was the most useful tip or trick that you have learnt/been told?

Attend as many workshops as possible, every teacher teaches different and has their own specialties! With every workshop you attend, you learn something that you can make your own, that works just for you; it could be a special way to hold the cutter, it could be a special glue for special 3D effect, it could be just the help you need with colour or shading and it could be just the being part of a group of people that feels like you – because they also crave to mosaic everyday all-day-long!!!


Namakwaland: 2nd Place, 2Dimensional Open 2010


What else do you do (outside of mosaics)?  This could be your work/career, other hobbies and/or other passions in your life.

I love gardening, I love “dressing-up” a dinner-table for special friends, wandering in antique shops, love paintings of Van Gogh, Renoir, Klimt, Hunderwasser, Claude Monet, Toulouse-Lautrec and of course..a glass of red wine!