Wellington artist Tallulah Farrar is serving up joyful tiled nostalgia, piece by piece
In a screen-driven world, Tallulah Farrar loves working with her hands. As if by magic, creations unfurl from miniature tiles and a mosaic masterpiece blossoms. The 23-year-old artist, who is based in Te Whanganui-a-Tara, says she finds the creative process meditative. “There’s a real state of flow when you’re so focused on what’s in front of you.”
Her juice box creations are her latest achievements, a playful assortment of designs that look almost good enough to drink. Tallulah also paints murals and illustrates alongside her mosaic work, but she’s the first to admit that she wasn’t always so creative.
“I remember my sister and I being dragged around art galleries as kids and wondering when it would be time go home,” she laughs.
Despite her initial reluctance, she soon inherited the same aesthetic eye as her parents, going on to study textile design at university. By day, Tallulah works at a non-profit, but at night her desk lamp clicks on, ready for another evening of meticulous tiling by its warm glow. She leans in, ready to begin.
What’s your creative process?
My process changes so much depending on what I’m making and how I’m feeling. If I have a cool idea, then I dive in with the planning and thinking about how I’ll make it happen. For mosaics, that’s refining the design, developing a colour palette, working out the shape of MDF I need to saw, and sourcing any mirror or other materials I’ll need. Once I’ve got a plan in place and everything is ready to go, I’m usually pretty excited to get to the actual making. I’ll pop on a podcast and zone in. If ideas aren’t coming naturally, I’ll try and take a break and find inspiration. I might head out for a walk, look online or clear my head by spending time with my friends or family. I feel like ideas always come when I give them time and space.
Mosaicking is such an ancient, delicate practice and there’s real mindfulness there, especially in an increasingly digital age. What drew you to the art form?
It really is. I’ve always been drawn to tactile processes like sewing, screen printing, and painting. These are all processes where I use my hands, get away from screens and work towards a real physical outcome. Mosaicking also fits into that category – it’s very deliberate and thoughtful, and I find it quite meditative. My mum owned a painting pottery shop when I was a newborn. She did lots of mosaics and pottery herself, so I grew up making and seeing mosaics. I think a lot of people have similar nostalgic memories of making mosaics at school or with relatives. It’s been so fun returning to that in the past few years, playing around and seeing how the mosaic form can interact with my existing illustration style.
Your juice box designs are seriously delectable. What was the inspiration there?
The juice box idea was one of a number of sketches I did when I was dreaming up cute mosaic designs. I thought it would be a fun nod to lunchboxes growing up and the simple pleasure of sipping on some juice. When I shared a bunch of mosaics with friends and on Instagram, it became pretty clear that it wasn’t just me who loved the idea.
How long does a single piece take?
It depends on the size and complexity of the piece. The whole mosaic process involves sourcing materials, sawing the MDF, tiling, grouting and finishing. The most time-consuming part is the tiling, as each tile has to be chipped down to size with tile cutters and glued into place. I’d say that all up, a small piece like a juice box would take between three to four hours of labour. From there,
the bigger the piece, the longer the process.
What designs are you dreaming up for the future?
I have lots of ideas for fun statement mirrors. I’ve made a Tamagotchi mirror that says “Reset!” and a few flower mirrors, but I’d love to be able to work on some other ideas. I have a number of ideas for smaller mosaics too, but for now, I’m excited about the juice box babies. There are so many fruits and colour combos – the possibilities are endless.
Do you take commissions?
Yes, I love making custom pieces, whether that’s a juice box of your favourite fruit, a flower mirror to match a certain space, or something else.
You sew clothes, paint murals, illustrate magazines and now create gorgeous mosaics. Is there anything you can’t do?
That’s very kind. There’s heaps I can’t do, but I’ll take it. I like to keep it moving and am so lucky to have had the opportunity to try out many mediums.
What advice do you have for someone who aspires to having a creative career?
I think that following your curiosity is so important. Not being too attached to one medium and letting myself explore is how I ended up making mosaics. I’ve also been thinking a lot about what role I want my creativity to play in my life. When it comes to monetising your passion, there is a danger that the passion may turn more towards obligation. I’m not saying that a balance can’t be struck, but it’s definitely something worth considering. I’ve chosen to keep my creative career separate to what pays my bills for now, and I’m lucky to have a great 9-5 job that gives me the security to enjoy my creativity without that pressure.
What are your plans for the future?
To keep creating mosaics, working on passion projects and seeing what happens.
How can people view and purchase your work?
People can visit my website, tallulahfarrar.com