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The earliest mosaics were made of pebbles. Small, flat stones were hand-placed into mortar to create smooth surfaces for the Greeks to walk upon. Today, New Zealand mosaicist John Botica uses the same techniques and materials to create extraordinary works of art. His elegant designs incorporating Maori legends and the flora and fauna of his adopted country are universally appealing. Perhaps that is why his clients (including film maker Peter Jackson) place Botica’s work in spaces they consider very special. John Botica believes that pebble mosaics are his destiny. We do, too.
I am a self-taught pebble mosaic artist with no formal art training.
Across the Cultures, 2007 3 meters diameter Ponsonby’s Western Park
I am obsessed with pebbles – with their beauty, their shape, their form, their texture.
I love hunting for my pebbles. I search for them in places far across the oceans and in the beaches just a few kilometers from my home.
Porte Cochere Private residence
I love the process of placing each pebble, one by one, into its bed of sand. When I am working, I enter a realm of timeless awareness.
I love how my mosaics shimmer and vibrate with the hours of the day and changes in the weather. They are never the same at any moment in time.
The artist’s studio.
I love the physicality of working in pebble mosaics. Before I was an artist, I was an athlete. It feels good to work with my body.
I am fascinated by the power of pebble mosaic design. How can something so simple convey such big ideas?
Tane Mahuta and Kereru, 2009 3 meters diameter Wilson School, Takapuna, Aukland
I am humbled by the permanence of pebble mosaics – that I have created a thing of beauty that will last lifetimes is a joy to me.
Koru Land 2010 2.4 m diameterMangere Art Center, Auckland
People say that you have to find a passion in life to enjoy life – to make your life meaningful. Well, I am lucky. I have always loved beautiful things and now I am doing beautiful things. My art is a burning fire in my heart.
John Botica, March 2012 Auckland, New Zealand
John Botica creates site-specific pebble artwork for public, private and sacred spaces internationally. Previous articles on his work can be found on MAN here.
Portrait by Con Kiernan