Artist Profile: Gary Drostle
Master Mosaicist Gary Drostle has been a key member of the Chicago Mosaic School’s Visiting Artist roster for over ten years. Working as a professional public artist for over thirty years, he brings his skill in making monumental works to the midwest every year for the Large Scale Mosaic Workshop.
This focus on public work is part of Gary’s utopian view of art. He states that “to me this is a profoundly democratic view of art for all, on the street, enhancing and changing our environment, interacting with people, landscape and architecture reflecting a sense of place through the expression of our history and humanity, it is this that inspires me.”
Gary is based in his native London, but has traveled extensively throughout Europe, the Middle East, the Near East, and the United States. After obtaining his degree from Hornsey College of Art in 1984, he entered almost immediately into a publicly-focused practice, primarily tackling mural projects. He studied marble carving and mosaic arts in Italy, becoming a Master Mosaicist with Orsoni in Venice, continuing to apply these skills toward large-scale projects, and gaining expertise in not only the artistic practice and technique of designing and fabricating on a monumental scale, but also the intricacies of communication and logistics that are fundamental challenges in large-scale and community-oriented projects. Gary’s work segues seamlessly between contemporary aesthetics and more historicizing forms such as medieval or Greco-Roman designs, as well as between representative, decorative, and abstract imagery, remaining flexible to adapt to shifting collaborative visions and site-specific context.
Beyond mosaic, Gary has worked to create murals, frescoes, works in Keim, and illustrative media such as book illustrations, cartoons and comic art for newspapers and magazines, digital painting, and more. However, his status as a mosaicist precedes him; as a former president of the British Association for Modern Mosaic (BAMM) and ongoing editor for BAMM’s Andamento magazine devoted to mosaic history, he stands as a preeminent figure in the international stage of mosaic arts.
In the past two years, Gary has completed eight significant public artworks in the UK, Bahamas, and US, and received two awards for his 2015 restoration of the incredible Tottenham Court Road Tube Station mosaics originally designed an installed by famed Scottish artist Sir Eduardo Paolozzi. In 2017 he acted as a juror at the SAMA International Summit in Detroit, alongside several other key members of the Chicago Mosaic School community.