Story by Jody Sanderson


Photos by Kristy Reimer

Summer 2024

First impressions are powerful and what the observer first sees in the art of Airdrie artist Keith Gorham is the absolute explosion of colour.

In one of Keith Gorham’s largest pieces, Pandora’s Dream, a labyrinth of images hurls the mind into a private and unfamiliar psyche that quickly becomes familiar as it considers each form individually. What inspires such a mind to create such a work? Curiosity, it would seem.

“I see a photograph, or a series of some kind of visual art, and I ask myself, ‘I wonder if I can do that?’” says Gorham, a custom tile-setter in his former life, who now applies that trade skill to his ceramic mosaics to create pieces reflecting his deep interest in fantasy literature and art.

“I’ve always been drawn to the unusual, to the out-of-the-way places most people don’t explore. For example, I spent a month climbing Mount Logan in the Yukon. It was the most incredible experience of my life! My art is like that. Unexpected.”

Gorham’s process begins with his consideration of the image, then drawing it in a sketchbook with coloured markers. He may tweak it, to best render the final product to his interpretation. Then he starts what he calls “piddling around.”

Choosing colours from his vast collection of tiles, he begins to cut the tiles according to his vision, and to what works.

It takes painstaking precision to create the intricate work seen in pieces such as Gorham’s Nomadic. Each wave in Nomadic is made from small, curved tiles to make its simulated ocean “undulate.”

Gorham mounts each tile one at a time on a substrate of Wedi board, which is used in shower construction, is waterproof and, more importantly, is lightweight.

It’s a time-consuming process that can take from two months to a year to complete. For framing, he uses Schluter tile edging, which protects tile edges from cracking and chipping.

Born and raised in Manitoba, Gorham hitchhiked to B.C. at 19 and never looked back. He spent an entertaining career in custom tile-setting, eventually starting his own business while raising a family in Prince George. After an illness, he moved to Airdrie with his daughter and family in 2020.

“I got involved in the arts community here and began to meet other artists, learning and finding my way around the art world,” says Gorham.

His work has been exhibited with other artists, both in Drumheller and, most recently, the Airdrie Public Library. His goal? To keep doing what he knows best!

Keith Gorham’s work can be found in Instagram at mosaicmuseart.