Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Mexican Diary #3: Manuel Perdomo Villarereal

You can see pictures of my mosaics on my website: www.martincheekmosaics.com
The Barbados work is shown on page:
www.martincheekmosaics.com/html/barbados_floor.html

Mexican Diary #3: Manuel Perdomo Villarereal

…is the father of the family who own and run Korolines. He reminds me of ‘the man from Del Monte’- the one who says “yes” and is just as agreeable. He turns up everyday and roams around having a good look, master of all he surveys, though I haven’t actually seen him DO anything yet.
Not surprisingly, Kolorines is very much a family business. Kolorines by the way refers to the many colours of the mosaics – nothing to do with the family name, which is just as well because it’s more catchy than Perdomo Villarreal Mosaics don’t you think?! About twenty years ago there were seventeen mosaic companies in Mexico but they’ve slowly died out leaving Kolorines as the main contender. So chances are if you see a mosaic in Mexico made in the last twenty years, odds on it’s one of theirs. Swimming pools are a big percentage of their work, mainly because here in Mexico a pool isn’t really a luxury item, it’s pretty essential – every hotel and most wealthy household will have one. It’s also true to say that the paint here is not of the highest quality, so if you decide to save money and paint your pool, chances are you’ll be recoating it n two years time. The mosaic, whilst an expensive initial outlay last forever.
Manual has six children, of whom I’ve so far met four:
Francisco is about my age, he’s married with teenage children, he has a boy aged 15. He asked me how I was coping with Tom and expounded on the conflict between Dad’s and their teenage sons. This was quite amusing to me because his sister Magdalene then pointed out all of the trouble that HE had caused HID Dad when HE was that age and a typical sister / brother debacle unfolded, the kind of which I am all too familiar.
Francisco is the one who gave me the ‘Luigi is our chef’ lecture. It seems to me that he although he’s very much a businessman; he nevertheless likes to take it easy. He’s worked in the family business for twenty years and it looks to me as though he’s a bit tired of it – his heart doesn’t seem to be in it – but we’ll see. On my second day he picked me up at 9.30, he was late and wasn’t too keen to repeat the experience once I pointed out that whist here I wished to keep the same hours as the staff: 0700 – 1500. He explained that time keeping was not his strongest point and that he liked to keep flexible hours, I guess after twenty years who can blame him – nice work if you can get it. He clearly didn’t have any ambitions to become my personal taxi driver, but he did find himself a replacement, Mike, who I have used ever since I have to have a sit down with him to discuss whether I can run a workshop at the classy showroom whilst I am here, so that should be revealing.
Magdalena seems much more on the ball and into mosaic. She seems more artistic in nature and in her attitude. Unfortunately for me, she left for New York after my fist day here, but returns next Monday. She has a very pretty daughter called Natalie who is a student, but very interested in mosaics. She has gone with her Mom to New York to help out.
Carmen is the youngest of the siblings and manages the office in Mexico City. I met her briefly when I took the day off to go and see the mosaics there. She was very friendly and spoke perfect English.
Estella is here working on a mosaic with Luigi. She doesn’t mix with the ‘workers’, preferring to sit in the office area with Luigi’s PA, Aida and the secretary Cecilia. She’s been making very slow progress on a hand of Christ, for which Luigi has already mosaiced the head. He has obviously taken Estella under his protective wing and tells me that she’s a specialist. This is the understatement of the year. I doubt if any of the other mosaicists would have got away with her production rate. Estella’s work is meticulous but to be brutally honest, I don’t think that she’s any better than little Manuela who at twenty one has only been making mosaics for three years and is the nearest thing to what one might call a ‘natural that I have ever witnessed. Estella is pleasant enough, apart from when she feels that Eli is ‘milking it’ in hanging around with me and shouts at her to get back to work.

You can see pictures of my mosaics on my website: www.martincheekmosaics.com
The Barbados work is shown on page:
www.martincheekmosaics.com/html/barbados_floor.html

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