‘A Zeeland Girl’ and her Voyage of discovery

One of 20 mosaic images of girls in traditional headgear from Zeeland made by students of Els Goudt

“In every block of marble I see a statue as plain as though it stood before me, shaped and perfect in attitude and action. I have only to hew away the rough walls that imprison the lovely apparition to reveal it to the other eyes as mine see it.”
What marble was to the sculptor, glass is to mosaic artist Els Goudt,

“I often get my inspiration from the glass itself,” she says. “A certain color or shape can give you an idea. Working with glass has become a journey of discovery for me; a journey that is far from finding its final destination.”

Els operates a mosaic supplies shop in Arnemuiden, a fishing village in Zeeland, the Netherlands, and runs regular workshops there. But this was no career trajectory that she chose. It seems, rather, that it chose her.

“Twenty years ago, I had had no experience with mosaic at all. But for some inexplicable reason, I got an urge to have mosaic in the toilet and bathroom of my house. No idea why. When I was finished, I thought it was a shame to let the remaining glass stones disappear in the garage, so I covered a flowerpot with it. Very simple, just whole stones. That was the beginning of the end…”

Instead of using up the leftover stones, she ended up buying more. And then embarking on a new project, and another…

“The reflection of this material is so special.” she says, “Depending on the incidence of light, the colors change and thus give a different unpredictable, surprising effects. The many types, colors and possibilities with glass are a boundless source of inspiration."

She found herself going further and further into various techniques, carrying out experiments and trying out things that were new to her. What started as a hobby grew into a passion. Eventually, she had so much mosaic material that she outgrew the space in her house and found herself wishing for her own studio.

That wish suddenly came true. She registered a company with the Chamber of Commerce and MozArtE Glass Mosaic was born. 

Once Els started holding workshops at her shop, they began to multiply. Participants eventually formed groups that returned every week or every other week, just for fun but also to learn and try new things. As time went on, she added more and more natural materials: beads, charms, natural stone, shells, etc. And she kept experimenting.

“I try to stimulate the students’ own creativity in color choice, design,” she says. “And above all to try to trust and follow their own feelings. I think that impressions you gain along the way are expressed in one way or another at a certain moment. These can be elements from nature, but also, for example, patterns in clothing or certain color combinations. It is very satisfying to see students go home with their work super proud.”

Increasingly, she is introducing mosaic art to the rest of her community. In 2017, she was invited by the municipality of Middelburg to create a mosaic to mark its 800-year existence. A large tent was built in the market square where her students, residents, tourists and passers-by could stick tiles on a gigantic 800. During the Children’s Art week in 2018, she supervised primary schoolchildren in executing a project. In her workshops, her students created a series of Zeeuws meisjes, mosaics of women in the distinctive traditional headgear of the province, which was put on display in the regional museum last year.

“I want to infect as many people as possible with the mosaic virus,” Els says. “A virus that no vaccine can withstand. I often hear from students that their mosaic afternoon is really an afternoon ‘out’. Just an afternoon forgetting your troubles. Mosaics, in addition to being a creative expression, also has a therapeutic effect. With a lot of fun, enthusiasm and dedication. I like to contribute to that!”