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Solo Commissions and Community Mosaics by Susanna Mills.

Although I’ve created art my whole life, I began pursuing it as a living in 1986, when I graduated from the University of Cape Town's Michaelis School of Fine Art, in Graphic Design. Since then, my mission has been to produce unique, original illustrations, mosaic artworks and quality articles on my passions, namely art and cycling. Enjoy browsing through this selection of community mosaics and solo commissions.

St Paul's Burwood Mosaic Floor

150th Anniversary Medallion 2021

It was in 2009, while conducting community mosaic workshops for Burwood Council that I first met Pam Brock and Lyn Bursill. Father James, then newly appointed to St. Paul’s, came to visit one of these workshops, and we all casually discussed creating a mosaic in the floor of St Paul’s church for the 150th Anniversary, then eleven years away.

In 2017, Father James and I had a new conversation about commencing work on the 150th Anniversary floor mosaic. Pam and I visited St. Judes Randwick to look at their Smalti sailboat floor mosaic. At the time, the Mills family were deep into the chaos of trying to live in our home while completely restructuring and renovating it. I had nowhere to work and then my husband, hero breadwinner, got retrenched. We needed to support each other. I was unable to commit to work on the project. But, by God’s grace, Herman quickly found a much better job & by 2018 our family had a ‘new improved’ roof over our heads and my studio was finished! I opened for mosaic classes and finalised the initial design for the 150th Anniversary mosaic.

Everyone lived with this design for a while but in 2019 it was suddenly decided to go back to the drawing board and completely redesign it into something more generic- hence the simple beauty of the Canterbury Cross and the timeless words; ‘Faith, Hope, Love.’ That proved to be prophetic, because everyone needed to call upon those three words during 2020 and 2021 and I’m sure you’ll agree there was plenty of time to reflect upon them too ! I, however, began mosaicing them. It was a great solace to have an amazing mosaic project to talk about and prepare for, as Sydney got shut down, cancelled and isolated.

 After much deliberation, we decided to use a very traditional mosaic material, namely Bisazza Opus Romano- little 12x12mm glass squares, 6mm thick. Fortunately, we were able to create the whole mosaic using the robust 6mm thick ones because while the Opus order was being procured by Susie’s Studio, we found out that Bisazza had changed the Opus thickness to just 4mm, imposed a new minimum order quantity of 2m sq. per colour and changed lead times on all orders to 12 weeks due to pandemic related logistics chain issues! Opus Romano is a traditional mosaic material, and much of the process I devoted to working out what patterns and flows we were going to lay them in, and how we were going to work with the limited tonal ranges to create all the design features successfully.

Due to the size and shape of the medallion only two volunteers at a time could actually mosaic it. Workshops narrowed down to four, and finally just three of us. We spent our time together, every Thursday on the church hall stage, slowly and methodically working on the Anniversary mosaic.

After 30 years of riding and racing mountain bicycles without a single serious injury, in May 2021 I broke my leg while riding, and then two weeks later Sydney was placed in its second hard lockdown. These utterly futile lockdowns meant that one of our specialist mosaic floor contractors was stranded in Melbourne and could not install the completed mosaic medallion into the newly tiled Bell Tower floor and, worst of all, the church had to cancel all 150th Anniversary Celebrations!

It is clear to me that as of 2020, nobody has the luxury of just going as far as written, read or even visual reminders of the words ‘Faith, Hope and Love.’ No, we must now actually live them every day in order to walk with God and be strengthened by his eternal truth as we journey through the ever-shifting sands of worldly circumstances we cannot control.

The mosaic medallion was finally inset within the St. Paul’s Bell Tower floor in February 2022!


Wedding Portrait

January-March 2019

2019: This A1-size photo realistic mosaic portrait of Alex & Vanessa was a solo commission for their wedding. Each eye took over a day to create. Each tooth was individually cut and shaped to match exactly the photo reference supplied. A lavish amount of time, expertise and  attention to detail is required to create a work of art like this. You can read my thoughts on creating a mosaic portrait in my blog.

KU West Pennant Hills

May-July, 2018

The KU Preschool at West Pennant Hills was awarded a grant to create community mosaics with the children and their teachers to beautify interior and exterior walls of their school. The Susie's Studio artist's proposal was accepted, and four mosaics were designed and then created depicting the activities and features of the school that the children identified. The mosaics were made at a series of school group workshops, facilitated by Susanna Mills.

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Ruth Pasi Foundation Easter Cross community mosaic, Zimbabwe

April, 2018

The artist was sponsored by Ruth Pasi Foundation to travel with an international youth group to Ruwa, Zimbabwe, where she conducted a community mosaic workshop to create an Easter Cross with a group of women from the village of Dotito. It was a joyous day and concluded with singing and dancing over the beautiful mosaic we made together!

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A Mosaic Shield Gift to Glenorie Primary

November 2017

 This year, the year 6 Scholars and Committee have raised funds to provide an amazing gift to the school. Year 6 students worked together with Susanna Mills to create a beautiful mosaic, which involves the four houses Red Roos, Wallabies, Kookas and Emus arranged on a shield. Each year 6 student’s name was placed around the outside edge with everyone participating in two workshops over the course of 2 weeks to help in the creation. We also created nine extra discs with various mosaic images to be put up around the small COLA area. The shield mosaic can be seen at the main entrance to the school.

We would like to thank Susanna for her hard work and amazing contributions as well as allowing us to be a part of the mosaic process.

By Luke & Matt 5/6P Glenorie PS

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Galston High School

January 2016 to February 2017

Galston High School Logo Sign: 2m x1m: Glass tiles on Villaboard base with wood frame/brace. Mosaiced school logo on transitioning blue to white background. Lasercut acrylic ‘Welcome’ word underneath. Location: Side entrance to the school hall.

Galston High: H20 molecule: 2mx2m Glass and ceramic tiles on three laser cut villaboard discs. Lettering created with Ezarri glow in the dark ‘Fosfo’ tiles. Location: Water Bubblers at Lab 8.

Galston High signs: ‘Boys’ and ‘Girls’ bathroom signs: 30cmx40cm Glass tiles and shaped mirror on plywood.

Music classroom sign: 40cm x 50cm Ceramic and mother of pearl tiles on plywood base. Glass tile cladding on cut profiles. Pique Asiette red section of background was created out of the broken shards of the music teachers’ favourite mug. All grout lines glow in the dark. AGT Aqua 350mesh glow sand was used. See:

Galston High School Environment Designs: Part of my brief for the GHS Beautification programme was to come up with designs to attach on the neglected balconies surrounding the main quad, as well as a new school sign across one of the elevated walkways at the main entrance. Students and the SRC were involved in the design selection process. A signage contractor printed and installed the final designs.

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