Greece, Mosaics and Me, Part II: A guide to the mosaics of Greece.
To mark the fact that my days of being permanently based in Athens have come to an end, my previous post was a personal story about my mosaic journey in Greece. As well as learning how to make mosaics there and practicing the art for over a decade, I also visited and explored as many mosaic sites as possible across the length of the country: ancient and modern, famous and obscure, well preserved and neglected.
I know that there are many more sites left to see, particularly on the islands, and I hope that I will have the opportunity to visit them in the years to come, but meanwhile in Part II of this two-part series about Greece, Mosaics and Me, I have compiled a comprehensive guide to the mosaics of Greece for visitors and mosaic enthusiasts. Continue reading →
The day is done. The dishwasher is rumbling away, the boys are arrayed on the sofa in front of the TV, the dog is stretched out in the part of the sitting room that he has claimed as his own and I slink off, tea in hand, to my computer. It’s my way of unwinding. A quick check for any interesting mosaic pins on Pinterest, a glance at mosaic matters on Twitter (oh, how I love it’s brevity), followed by a longer, slower look at what fellow mosaicists are up to on Facebook, clicking through to interesting links they’ve posted which often leads on to another link and then another… And as the idle minutes pass, day after day, I start to notice certain similarities between ancient mosaics from all over the Roman world.
A chance encounter with the Mosaics of Nikopolis, Greece.
We were in the car heading up the west coast of Greece to meet friends in Epirus during the Greek Easter break. The journey was long, the roads were atrocious and I had no appetite for sight seeing along the way. Many years of veering off major roads to follow brown signs promising interesting archeological remains and either ending up hopelessly lost in a farmer’s yard, getting to the site to find it firmly closed with the desolate air of a place that hadnt been open for decades, or finally reaching it only to discover a pile of unremarkable stones, had thoroughly put me off experimentation. So we whizzed on past brown signs aplenty, my mind firmly focused on our beachside destination, until an unusually plantive cry from my sightseeing-obssessed son in the back seat persuaded me to pull over. Grudgingly, I agreed to see where this particular sign led, and so we took a narrow country road heading, so I thought, to nowhere.
A padlocked gate and dilapidated sign
Sure enough, we arrived in front of a large padlocked gate and a delapidated sign and I felt vindicated. Undeterred, the sightseeing son leapt out, followed by his younger brother and the dog and – undaunted by the locked gates – climbed over a half collapsed wall. I stayed in the car. Then, a few minutes later I heard an excited cry: ‘mosaics!’ I climbed up on the wall and shouted back: ‘worth seeing?’ A son appeared and replied: ‘yes’. So down I went over the grass covered wall, sliding through a gap between the stones, trying not to think about snakes and still slightly thinking that that they wouldnt be worth the effort. How wrong I was. I will never, ever say no to a brown sign again.
This, withoout us knowing it in advance, was once the city of Nikopolis founded by Octavian in 31BC after he defeated Antony and Cleopatra at the battle of Actium. This was something special.
The mosaics are in newly constructed open-sided brick structures – covered, but with nothing to protect them from the rain slanting in or from people walking over them or indeed doing much worse. Let them speak for themselves:
(formerly Athens, Greece)
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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/