modern mosaics

A gallery of pomegranate mosaics

Pomegranate tree mosaic. Photo and mosaic: Frederic Lecut, Mosaic Blues.

I know why Hades chose a pomegranate to tempt Persephone. You’re stuck down there in the underworld, in those vaulted, sunless spaces and you’ve got to find something that she won’t be able to resist, something that conjures up all the light and energy that she’s pining for. It’s the perfect fruit. The blushing skin, those bright, too-red seeds, so small, so beguilingly small that surely it wouldn’t matter to just have one, or two. No one would notice. Why would they care?

Pomegranate. Hinton St. Mary.
Christ and pomegranates, Hinton St. Mary, Dorset.

Just as it’s not surprising that Hades chose a pomegranate to trick his victim, nor is it unexpected that religions and cultures from China and India to the Middle East, Iran and Turkey have commandeered the pomegranate as a receptacle for all sorts of symbolic meanings. The pomegranate is a casting agent’s dream – it’s rich, luxurious, sexual, and full and has been widely appropriated to signify propserity, marriage and fertility. Continue reading

The Hackney Downs Mosaic, London.

Part II of a two part post on the mosaic work of the Hackney Mosaic Project, designed and led by Tessa Hunkin.

Elephant detail, Hackney Downs Mosaic. Photo: Helen Miles Mosaics

In 2,000 years or so, a fisherman out in a small boat on the waters which cover the long submerged city of London, will be leaning over the side of his vessel hauling in his line when something will catch his eye. Accustomed to sailing over the ruins of crumpled sky scrapers and following the tangled routes of once busy thoroughfares, he will wonder if it’s just a shadow or something new and shiny dropped from an earlier craft, but he’ll steady the boat, look again and see something clearly beneath the surface.

Tree detail, Hackney Downs Mosaic. Photo: Helen Miles Mosaics

A storm the day before will have shifted a bank of silt and the fisherman will be the first to glimpse a small corner of the Hackney Downs Mosaic for more than a thousand years.

DSCN9030Over the ensuing months, with much fanfare and wonder, the mosaic will be excavated and removed to dry land. A special building will be made to house the newly-discovered work. There will be a grand opening and the fisherman will stand awkwardly to one side as a dignitary, surrounded by a coterie of excited archeologists whose learned theses on the origins of the mosaic will suggest others still lie submerged, will announce that it is open to the public. Continue reading

The Hackney Mosaic Project, London.

Hackney Mosaic sign. Photo: Helen Miles Mosaics

A two-part post on the Hackney Mosaic Project in London led by Tessa Hunkin and assisted by a team of volunteers. Tessa, who has a string of mosaic books to her name as well as numerous prestigious mosaic commissions from Westminster Cathedral to cruise ships and celebrity homes, started the project in 2011. 

It’s odd to think that when mosaic artist Tessa Hunkin hit upon the idea of setting up a community mosaic project in London she didn’t have her door battered down by excited supporters and willing funders. The idea, which has since morphed into the Hackney Mosaic Project – responsible for some of the finest community mosaics in London – started off as a relatively modest plan to make a mosaic to mark the London 2012 Olympics.

Robson Cezar, King of the Bottletops, doing a section of the West Hackney Recreation Ground Mosaic. Photo: Helen Miles Mosaics

‘I thought it could be an Olympic project since the Olympics started in Greece and mosaics started in Greece so I did a drawing based on the seasons and tried to sell it,’ said Tessa, who trained as an architect before becoming a full time professional mosaic artist in the late 1980s. But none of the London boroughs took the bait until Tessa approached Hackney Council, which had a budget for Olympic preparations and the vision to see that this would be a perfect way to bring the community together and cheer up a neglected corner of the city. Continue reading

Six ways to use mosaics now!

Helen Miles Mosaics at work
Helen Miles Mosaics at work

Mosaics…yer wha?

Picture the scene. A drinks party perhaps. A casual conversation on the train. A longer than expected wait at the school gate. I have exhausted my repertoire of opening gambits and feel, with a sense of impending dread, the arrival of the inevitable question:

‘So what do you do?’

Slight pause. ‘I make mosaics.’

‘Ah’. Polite smile, eyes darting around frantically thinking of something to say.

And that’s it.

Mosaics are one big conversation stopper. I can see images of garden pots covered in broken plates floating in the eyes of my interlocutor and sometimes, seized by desperation, I start rattling on about using stone and marble and having a passion for Roman mosaics and liking to work with the spirit of them rather than to slavishly copy them, but it doesn’t really help much. Continue reading