Mosaics from Macedonia

A gallery of pomegranate mosaics

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES
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. www.telegraph.co.uk
Christ and pomegranates, Hinton St. Mary, Dorset. www.telegraph.co.uk

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 modernity of ancient mosaics

DSCN6473
Man hugging his dog. Great Palace Mosaic Museum, Istanbul. Photo: Helen Miles Mosaics

Many years ago, when I lived and worked in Egypt, I spent a week in the Cairo museum researching an article about it’s 100th anniversary. My apartment was close by and I would nip in through a side entrance bypassing the crowds and spend hours wandering through it’s musty, less frequented galleries. I was allowed to go into the conservation room and try on ancient pharaonic jewellry and I had all the time I wanted alone with the spookily alive Fayoum portraits.

Bardo Museum. dog and worker.
Dog and worker. Bardo Museum, Tunisia.

Such delights are hard to forget but it was in the Tutankhamen exhibition that I remember having that feeling which ancient things can give you – of hopping over a barrier of time and seeing, not the objects themselves or their beauty or oldness, but the people who used and held them. It was the hinge of Tutankhamen’s folding bed that did it for me. A hinge: utilitarian, practical, simple and unchanged over thousands of years. No more or less a hinge than all the hinges we use in our daily lives. Never mind all that gold – it was the hinge that I loved. Continue reading

Visiting the Heraclea Lyncestis mosaics, Macedonia

IMG_1295
Central urn bordered by deer, peacocks and an acanthus wreath. Heraclea Lyncestis, Macedonia. Photo: Helen Miles Mosaics

When I made plans to go visit the Heraclea Lyncestis mosaics in Macedonia with Tessa Hunkin I was slightly concerned that the mosaics would play second fiddle. Tessa Hunkin is my mosaic heroine. In case there’s anyone out there who thinks you dont know her, you do. She’s the one that set up Mosaic Workshop in London’s Holloway in the 1980s with Emma Biggs. I bet you have at least one of her many books on various mosaic subjects from making techniques to garden mosaics and mosaic patterns. She won the 2014 British Association of Modern Mosaics Mosaic of the Year award for the Shepherdess Walk Mosaic that she created with the Hackney Mosaic Project and has designed and made a string of mosaics for public and private spaces which consistently make my jaw drop.

IMG_1347
Leopard gorging on a fallen deer. Heraclea Lyncestis, Macedonia. Photo: Helen Miles Mosaics

Continue reading

Summer 2014: visiting mosaic sites.

Kalamaki beach, Pelion, Greece.
Kalamaki beach, Pelion, Greece.

The time has come. Summer again. Summer, summer and more summer, on and on and on. Beaches, yes. Travel, yes. Visiting family, yes. Packing, unpacking, repacking, forgetting things, going back to get them, yes. The odd novel, if I’m lucky, yes. Making mosaics, no.

Heraclea Lyncestis, Macedonia. Photo: www.panacomp.net
Heraclea Lyncestis, Macedonia. Photo: www.panacomp.net

You might detect a note of resignation. A slight hint of summer fatigue (before summer has even arrived). You might even think that summers are not my favourite time of year. You might be right. When the boys finish school, I stop making mosaics for the whole summer long. Two months to be precise. It could be an indication of my own inadequacies, but I just cant make mosaics when at any moment a large chap, usually still in pyjamas, comes up to wonder when lunch will be. It’s that sleeping, electronic-screen blurry, unwashed, all pervasive boy energy that somehow just doesn’t chime with the calm zone of total concentration which I get into when I make mosaics. Besides, with so much to-ing and fro-ing and never more than a week in one place,  it’s hard to get down to anything serious on the mosaic front. Or any front, for that matter. Continue reading