Cleo Mussi, Hand Notes For A-Z Hand Book Published 2008
By Paul Patterson PHD Psychology
We live in a fragmentary world – the consequence of more than two hundred years of science, industry and the flickering torchlight of consciousness has been to break materials down further and further into their constituent parts – atomising, separating and naming smaller and smaller quantities in an effort to make sense of the stuff that surrounds us. We reduce materials; elements; cultures to their individual parts and think we thereby understand them better. Yet for many this process distils a lingering sense of dislocation and loss and we remain searching for connections, for echoes of the past…
A real response to this situation and a process of reclaiming and reconnecting with a living history is surely evident in the prolific, contemplative and often humorous work of Cleo Mussi. Found and previously used objects, plates, teapots, bowls, that in themselves represent almost another way of life from the recent past have been combined into strikingly sculpted archetypal images that immediately resonate. As we orientate and find our way we may become aware that the disparate fragments and symbols have been recombined into powerful holistic ‘stories’ that have a meaning far beyond their individual constituent parts. In the same way that universal themes of the spirit in man; the power of nature; love; loss; meaning and the denial of meaninglessness are captured in stories; poetry; fairytales; mythologies; Mussi’s mosaic sculptures speak to the weary traveler and offer a little calm, a little manna for the soul.
The bigger picture is that as a race, the further we develop our ‘rational’ consciousness the more heavily we feel the draw of the almost forgotten unconscious elements of our nature, that which binds us to a living past and – to each other. People value any reminders of this original state of being that mythologists refer to as ‘participation mystique’, Australian aboriginals refer as ‘dreamtime’. Viewing a holistic work of art that captures a little of this original state (reflecting the unconscious archetypes symbolically) can be deeply moving, and this is certainly present in many of Cleo Mussi’s works
We need these reassurances from artists in all media that we have not lost touch completely with our unconscious origins and we need (more than ever) to keep hearing stories that allow us to feel connected to the present and that suggest little hints of the numinous – and even that positive futures are possible. Real Art does this (I hope Ruskin would have agreed).
Cleo Mussi’s impressive creations of touching and meaningful mosaic images give energy and immediacy to the audience, echoing fractured worlds from our recent personal history and harking back to more ancient, collective, and still active memories. A quiet moment of contemplation with any of these works and they begin to share some of their subtle secrets – themes of loss, love, divinity, fear and retribution – the world of fairy tale. This is why Cleo is probably the leading exponent of mosaic art and why you should spend some quiet time alone with her work.