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Carrie Reichardt

There can’t be that many artists with a ‘fan base’ that stretches from wrongfully incarcerated Black Panther Kenny “Zulu” Whitmore to Sophie Ellis-Bextor, latterly queen of Kitchen Disco.

Self-styled ‘Mad In England’ extreme craftivist Carrie Reichardt’s art takes various forms but she is probably best known for her innovative, campaigning and community spirited mosaic works.

Reichardt lives in a house covered in mosaics made by herself and close collaborators from the UK and across the world. It’s a sight to behold. During the course of her rich and varied career she’s tiled taxi’s and pick-up trucks, life-size figures, elephants, horses, the walls of many towns and cities, the steps of the Victoria & Albert Museum… All her mosaics, of course, demonstrate consummate craft skills as well as an acute visual wit and imagination but, just as importantly, Reichardt’s major projects reflect the artist’s enduring concerns: combating systemic injustice and cruelty and promoting progressive, engaged social activism.

She also produces some very fine x-rated and sweary china tea plates and trinket boxes.


Words by Adrian Burnham

Riots Not Diets - Carrie Reichardt

It was a pleasure to join the artist recently for a catch up. Like many creative folk the last couple of years hasn’t really seen much of a let up in productivity. It’s just that the pandemic caused so many stops and starts to multiple projects there were times when work became an organisational nightmare. “Covid caused untold delays. The 2 Tone mosaic at Pool Meadow bus station in Coventry should’ve been finished like a year before we got round to installing it.”

Reichardt’s large scale public works always include degrees of local connection. This can result from detailed research into local history that are then woven into overall designs. More often than not projects involve physical participation. Though, as the artist explained, during Covid this wasn’t so easy, “Two schools and over 90 pupils were making ceramic stars, writing whatever they wanted on them about their city. Normally we could be work-shopping with the kids and other participants over days or even weeks sometimes but in Coventry we had just one day.”

2 Tone mosaic at Pool Meadow bus station, Coventry - Carrie Reichardt
2 Tone mosaic at Pool Meadow bus station, Coventry - Carrie Reichardt
Elm Tree of Life, Finsbury Park tube - Carrie Reichardt

After 3 years planning, making and waiting to install, the ‘Elm Tree of Life’ public art mosaic was sited at Finsbury Park tube station. It’s an impressive work, both in terms of it bearing a wealth of knowledge about local life and times – a testament to community – plus it’s also gorgeous. “On one level you’re supposed to look at it and just think, ‘Oh, isn’t that pretty.’ But if you have time to spend with it there’s so much to see and read about the history of the area and people who’ve lived and worked there.”

Another ambitious project undertaken during the pandemic saw Reichardt and collaborators tackle the tricky task of installing work on two huge maritime navigational buoys in Boston. “Planning it so that the mosaics wrapped properly around the curved form of these things was a bit nerve wracking. I had T-shirts made for the install that had It’ll Be A Miracle If Everything Fits written across them. Fortunately, I was working with a really fabulous team.”

So, after bus and tube stations, maritime adventures and umpteen other commissions what’s next? “Actually, I wanted not to work! I keep getting asked to pitch for things, there’s all these ‘bring joy to a local high street’ type schemes cropping up. I’d like to do some more personal work. Having said that, there is a residency I’ve got my eye on. A project to create a mosaic mural in the oldest pottery factory in England celebrating the history of ceramics and, I suppose, commemorating an industry that’s been so decimated.”

Reichardt’s conversation brims with enthusiasm. It’s easy to see why the talks and presentations she’s given about her work and the causes she supports, in the UK and internationally, have proved so popular. And, even more so, her principles, passion and a commitment to excellence is evident in the works she’s shared with people who’ve made a point of going to see them and those who are lucky enough to encounter these mosaic gems by chance.

Navigational buoys in Boston - Carrie Reichardt
Navigational buoys in Boston - Carrie Reichardt
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