Dr Silvie Jacobi's journey to Director of London School of Mosaic was one long in the making, 15 years in fact!

She first started volunteering with the school in 2007 (when it was previously known as Southbank Mosaics) when she first moved to the U.K. from her native Germany, to pursue higher education. Now, with a BA in Fine Art, an MSc in Creative Cities and a PhD centred around a thesis titled "Art Schools and Place" under her belt, Silvie has taken up the head position at London School of Mosaic as of September 2021. Alongside her studies, she also co-founded the School in its current form along with David Tootill, and successfully curated the school's diploma course as their Head of Education.

We spoke to Silvie all about her mosaic journey, how she came to co-found London School of Mosaic, and how Obby has helped the school go from strength to strength.

Book with London School of Mosaic now on Obby

(Silvie's responses have been edited for length and clarity)

When did you first start working with mosaic and what drew you to it?

When I first moved to the U.K. as a student I felt a little lost, like I think most students do! I decided to volunteer to help out with the school whilst it was still known as Southbank Mosaics, based in a small studio in Waterloo. What drew me to mosaic itself is the range and intricacy of what you can create with such small pieces, there are so many techniques that you can use to get different outcomes.

What drew you to pursue your interest in mosaic and remain on at what you would help become London School of Mosaic?

The process behind the art of mosaic-making has a reputation for being well guarded, for example, there's one specific town in Italy where you can learn the traditional practices - but it's a long way to go if you want to learn both the technique and history of the art! It's considered a lost art form, so I feel it's vital for those who want to learn to have access to do so.

I wanted to encourage those looking at different art forms to consider mosaic as a professional avenue to explore, which is why I curated the first Higher Education course in Mosaic in the U.K. The course, Mosaic Studies, allows anyone who wants to become a professional mosaicist to learn both the practical skills of mosaic, as well as offer an overview of the history of mosaic.

(Author's note: alongside their fantastic diploma, London School of Mosaic also offer short courses and one-off day, evening, and weekend classes through us here at Obby - offering everyone who wants the chance to learn this beautiful craft in whatever way suits them)

My PhD centred around the relationships between places and artistic educational spaces, something which I've been able to transfer into my work here. After co-founding London School of Mosaic in 2017, we moved to our space here in Camden, and we've recently received a grant from the Mayor's Good Growth Fund which will allow us to transform some of the empty space around the School into 60 artist studios. A key part of our ethos is to give back to the community around us, and this funding will allow us to be able to provide more opportunities for the community to benefit from.

Where did Obby come in on your teaching journey?

We've been working with Obby for around 2 years now! We were really involved with the development of the website integration feature, (known as the Obby Widget) which is something that has been really helpful for us to easily direct people wanting to book with us straight to our website. Obby also allows us to be able to track and manage all our bookings for our shorter courses and classes easily, and the team are always super helpful if we ever need any support.

Congratulations on becoming the new Director of London School of Mosaic! Now that you're in your new role, how do you balance your creative side along with the day-to-day runnings of the business?

Thank you! My days definitely are filled with more admin that's for sure! I manage the whole team here at the School now, so whilst I don't have a more hands-on approach to the classes anymore, I still do the odd commission and mosaic piece which keeps me creative.

Even though you don't have a hands-on approach to teaching classes anymore, what's the most rewarding aspect of seeing people taking your classes?

I think it's seeing people realise what they're able to create. As a charity, we have a big focus on using mosaic and art as a tool to help those in the community around us. There are volunteers part of the team here at London School of Mosaic who started out by coming to our classes! I think that's really special, being able to see people progress and share the appreciation we all have for mosaic.

And finally, do you have any tips for anyone looking to start their own creative business?

For us, we operate as a charity, so I'd say making sure you've got funding is really important. In our experience, it was vital to connect with individuals who could help, as well as look at fundraising campaigns. It's not easy, but if you have the passion for what you want to do, then that will help keep you motivated.

Book with London School of Mosaic now on Obby

Want to know more?

Interested in finding out more about our wonderful teachers? Check out some more blogs featuring Obby teachers and their stories below: