In 2001 I was privileged to be the first Australian artist to undertake an extended independent residency at the Spilimbergo school. When I arrived there I was a tabula rasa. I knew almost nothing at all of the Greco-Roman history of mosaic. I did not know how to use a hammer and hardie, and smalti and marble were new materials to me, having in Australia only used commercially produced vitreous glass and ceramic tiles. I had been invited through a connection with Bisazza, who at that time had a factory in Spilimbergo. I arrived with funding from Arts Victoria and the Australia Council, scant grasp of the Italian language, a four month old baby and a helpful but equally bewildered husband.
In Spilimbergo the wealth of observable history, the range of cutting and laying methods and the rationales that underpinned them, the methodical process of gaining familiarity with the nuanced characteristics of distinctly different primary materials, were a revelation and my practice was indelibly enhanced. Working under the mentorship of Artistic Director and leading mosaicist Maestro Giulio Candussio, who treated me as an artist, not as a student or as a dilettante, I became a small part of the history of La Scuola Mosaicisti del Friuli as it became a large part of mine.