Margaux Chant has been making and creating for as long as she can remember, yet she hasn’t always worked as an artist. The twists and turns of life have led Margaux into multiple professions, gaining a unique skill set along the way.
Now, much like the pieces in her mosaic art, the pieces of Margaux’s life have culminated into a new stream of work that enables her to embrace her artistic passion, draw on the skills of her varied roles, and assist those who are dealing with grief and loss.
For the last two years, Margaux has been transforming old items of pottery and crockery into new, more functional items. Margaux has made everything from vases and platters to bowls and flowerpot stands, from the broken fragments of discarded or unwanted earthenware.
“I studied Visual Art after I left high school, but when I became mum, I put art to the side for a while. Then a couple of years ago I went to a mosaic workshop, and I remembered just how much I love this type of art. So, I bought a kiln.
“One of the first mosaic items I made was a platter, from pieces of my grandmother’s porcelain dinner set. She received it as a wedding present, and she treasured it, but I never used it. I used my rediscovered love of art to create something new. It made me realise, ‘this is what I want to do’.”
Transforming family heirlooms is just one element to Margaux’s work. While she has the skill to create the pieces, she also has the life and work experience to expand the process into one that helps clients deal with grief.
When Margaux was 25, her brother passed away in an accident while on holiday. The sudden and tragic loss of a sibling had Margaux searching for a support network to help her manage her grief. She found it at the Compassionate Friends group in Melbourne.
The group was such a great support, that it inspired Margaux to undertake training and start a group in Ballarat for anyone who had lost a sibling.
Subsequently, over the last 20 years, Margaux has volunteered at Ballarat’s Gandarra palliative care facility, worked as a funeral arranger and now, works part time as a Pastoral Associate at St John of God Hospital.
“My experience as a funeral arranger, and my work at the hospital, is a significant factor in my mosaic art. It made me realise that there is something practical and tangible I can do to help people memorialise their loved ones.
“Many people have ceramic pieces they can’t throw out or feel guilty about donating to op shops, but they also have no real use for these items either. With mosaic art, we can remake it.
“I have one client who, just like me, used her grandmother’s dinner set to create three vases and a platter. It meant there was something for her and each of her daughters to keep. The family was so grateful. It’s the best feeling.
“Now I want to expand on that. I want to spend time with individuals and offer to listen while we work together. The healing part of being able to discuss a loved one while creating a memorial item is very special.”
Margaux has already helped several people create new from old. She previously ran workshops at Buninyong for anyone who wanted to learn a new skill. While they were not intended to be counselling sessions, Margaux was surprised how often the conversation turned to that of loss and bereavement.
“The minute I mentioned I have worked in the funeral industry; someone would tell me about a funeral they went to and that would link to more conversations.
“Loss doesn’t have to be a death, and people seek opportunities to talk about their loss because every experience is different. I feel lucky that people want to share that with me. It’s never a cure for the pain, but it takes people to the next place.”
With a small studio now set up at home, Margaux is inspired by the new path she finds herself on, in combining her various skills and working roles.
“When you think everyone else is sick of hearing about your grief, you can come and talk to me. Even better, we can have that conversation while making a beautiful memorial piece to treasure.”
If you are interested in working with Margaux to create a mosaic piece, or hosting a small mosaic workshop from your home, visit her website or follow @margauxstorey on Instagram.
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