Joanna KesselBorn: 1961
Joanna Kessel studied ceramics and tapestry at Edinburgh College of Art and the Royal College of Art, London. In 2010 Joanna received a Scottish Arts Council Research and Development Award to study contemporary mosaic in Italy. The trip proved a pivotal point in the development of her studio practice and she continues to return on an annual basis to both study and teach.
The ongoing series of mosaic and cast concrete artworks (In)visible Cities is inspired by Carlo Scarpa’s architecture and Joanna’s experiences of travelling in Italy. The series takes its title from Italo Calvino’s novel Invisible Cities and plays with the notion of what is visible and what can be gained by looking outwards, as well as inwards - exploring the intimate detail, and beauty, of unseen, ‘glimpsed’ spaces.
“The city… does not tell its past, but contains it like the lines of a hand, written in the corners of the streets… every segment marked in turn with scratches, indentations, scrolls”.
— Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities
Joanna’s mosaics depict a highly personal response to ‘place’. They bring together an interest in abstracted, simplified forms and a fascination with the subconscious associations and memories evoked by these. She is interested in mosaic as a contemporary craft rooted in history – the jewel-like qualities of hand-cut mosaic tesserae and the time it takes to create an exquisitely crafted object. The work inhabits a place where craft-meets-art-meets-design-meets architecture and explores material relationships – ordinary and precious – combining materials such as hand cut marble tesserae, Venetian glass smalti and gold leaf mosaic with polished slabs of cast concrete. Joanna Kessel’s work is exhibited internationally and is in numerous private collections.