Part II of a three-part post on mosaics and contemporary art.
‘Ceramics have moved away from utilitarian pottery into a much wider realm… It’s not about craft but about making a new kind of object,’ Medeleine Bessborough, art dealer.
Learning lessons: Contemporary mosaics and the world of ceramics.
Part One of this post on contemporary mosaics pointed out the seemingly obvious – mosaics might create images, patterns and moods but they are not paintings. Mosaics are born of function, rooted in history, and pixelated by necessity and when thinking about the place of contemporary mosaics in the art world they must be understood and responded to on their own terms. The fact that mosaics are made up of collections of things or bits – precious or rubbishy, purpose made or found, artificial or natural – is a fact that defines them. You can’t ask a mosaic to be other than what it is.
‘I dont care what my label is – potter, ceramicist or artist – I want to put another layer onto history.’ Chris Antemann, artist.
In times not so very long past, that meant (bizarrely) that mosaics were relegated to a lesser category of creative endeavour. The slipperly. wriggly, elusive thing that calls itself Art might have become ever more elastic in recent decades but somehow mosaics (or at least mosaics which called themselves mosaics) never quite made it. Continue reading →
Until a few days ago I was a mosaic maker with a dark secret. My mosaic workspace was a horrendous mess: tesserae jumbled together in yoghurt pots, bags of marble rods dumped on the floor, books shoved unceremoniously onto shelves, sketches tucked into nooks never to be seen again, and pencils and tools scattered randomly in miscellaneous containers. All this might be shocking enough for you tidy tesserae folk out there, but I don’t want you to think kindly of me as a disorganised, flighty type with higher things on my mind than colour coordination. No, the awful truth is that I was not only perfectly aware of my shambolic way of working, but I positively revelled in it. No longer. You will be relieved to learn that I am now an entirely new person and it’s all thanks to you.
The transformation happened as I sat down to write about mosaic studios. When I came up with the idea, I thought it would be a straight forward matter of asking mosaicists from the online community for their help with supplying photographs and then it would all flow smoothly from there. But I quickly discovered what should have been obvious from the beginning – mosaic studios are more than just spaces where we work. They are private places, refuges, hideouts, sanctuaries, inner sanctums, and spaces generally of much greater importance than what goes on within them (although that’s pretty bloody important too). Continue reading →
Mosaic bloggers and social media users I never miss
In this second part of my two part series on Writing a Mosaic Blog I am going to tell you about my favourite mosaic bloggers and social media users. The reason for doing so is three fold:
a) to celebrate those people out there who are already writing, sharing and enthusing about the mosaic world,
b) to call all mosaicists not already on social media to join up now! and
c) to mark my two year mosaic blogging anniversary by acknowledging other bloggers and social media users who have been an inspiration, font of knowledge and/or source of amazing photographs and information.
It wouldn’t be practical to name all the people who I regularly follow on various kinds of social media so this is not meant to be a comprehensive list. It’s more like a ‘selected highlights’ of some of the mosaic bloggers and social media users whose contributions have caught my eye over time and triggered a sense of gratitude, awe or both for their ideas, reflections and tips. There is, as you will see, a bias towards those who share my interest in Roman mosaics or who work with stone but I must stress that I also hugely enjoy the work of mosaicists working in other medium (see photo at top of the page). My list of mosaic bloggers and social media users isn’t necessarily the same thing as a list of fellow mosaicists whose work I admire (although it might be tempting at some point to write about them too) but it is just a way of calling attention to one part of the great mosaic community – the part that is willing to share whether it be their work, their photos, their trials and tribulations, their news, or just their sheer passion for this art (or is it craft?!) form. Continue reading →
Not so long ago I wrote a post about why I started making mosaics and called on everyone out there – fellow mosaic obsessives – to tell me what attracted you to the medium and what keeps you here, painstakingly cutting and placing, when you could be making big bold statements with fantastically coloured acrylics or stroking clay into marvellous shapes. Mosaics are limited. The palette is what it is – you cant stretch it out by adding a dot of this and a dab or that and mistakes once made are in many cases hopelessly irredeemable. The materials are often expensive, the time taken to produce even a modest work is ludicrous and the horror of being required to dump dollops of gloopy grout over your completed masterpiece is enough to deter all but the most committed. So why do we make mosaics? I told you why I do (a mixture of mosaic making being a compulsion which I cant control and the necessity of finding occupation in a new country with no language to express myself) and now it’s over to you….
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Helen Miles Mosaics
I learnt how to make mosaics with Greek masters of the craft in Thessaloniki and Athens who taught using traditional methods with a focus on Byzantine iconography. Later, I become fixated with Roman designs and now my aim is to preserve the simplicity and directness of early mosaics while creating pieces which suit our modern lives.
New blog post on contemporary mosaic innovators. 1. Samantha Holmes ‘Unspoken’ 2. CaCO3, Movement No 12 3. Detail from Rachel Sager’s Ruins Project 4. Dugald MacInnes, Xenolith. http://helenmilesmosaics.org/contemporary-mosaics/mosaic-innovators/
Mosaics by Felice Nittolo, Raffaella Ceccsarossi and Pascale Beauchamp feature in my latest blog post about contemporary mosaics: http://helenmilesmosaics.org/contemporary-mosaics/contemporary-mosaics/