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Following the Light: An International Mosaic Encounter in Chartres

On 14, Nov 2012 | 12 Comments | In Uncategorized | By Nancie

Verdiano Marzi, Italy Professional This triptych was part of the Italian exhibit at the last Venice Bienalle.

Editor’s Note:  Every two years the city of Chartres, France comes alive with contemporary mosaics from around the world.  In this article, friend of MAN and Ravenna-based artist Rosetta Berardi shares her experience in visiting this year’s Rencontres Internationales de Mosaique (International Mosaic Encounters).  This year, 230 works are being presented in the categories of Professional, Amateur and Beginner.  Selected artists are invited to participate and are allowed to chose which of their works will be shown.  Shortly before the exhibit closes, prizes – the Prix Picassiette – are awarded.  We will be following up at a later date with the results.  Our sincere thanks to Ms. Berardi for this evocative essay and the photographs which comprise the gallery at the end of this article.  Enjoy – Nancie

by Rosetta Berardi

Arriving at Chartres, the symbol of the city – the Cathedral of Notre Dame – is immediately visible as it proudly and majestically overlooks the town. From the start, one is enchanted!

Chartres Cathedral, one of the most famous monuments in the world, is a perfect Gothic building. The interior shines with stained-glass windows and sculptures that are beautifully preserved.  On the floor, the beautiful maze immediately grabs one’s attention. The pilgrim is invited to follow the line drawn in front of him to go up to the choir of the cathedral and then to the east – toward the light.

The light leads us to the many small pieces that make up the contemporary mosaics of Maison Picassiette – the extraordinary work of just one man, Raymonde Isidore. Between 1930 and 1964, Isidore created a house and garden completely covered by mosaics using everything around him including even broken dishes, also known as “picassiette”.

Maison Picassiette via Wikipedia

The interest in contemporary mosaic flourishes here today and is, once again, thanks to the efforts of one man, Patrick Macquaire, whose life’s work has been the social inclusion of less fortunate individuals. In 1990, when the “Picassiette” neighborhood was considered a ghetto, the Association 3R (Renovate, Restore, Rehabilitate) was created.

Far right, Patrick Macquaire Photo: Rosetta Berardi

With Macquire as the director, the Association aimed to rehabilitate the area, giving it an identity strongly tied to contemporary mosaic. In 1992, the Association opened a mosaic workshop and began a series of trainings in additional areas like carpentry, gardening and cleaning, training to help those lives were lived at the margins of society.

A wall in Chartres. Photo: Rosetta Berardi

In 1996, the Association produced its first Rencontres Internationales de Mosaique (International Mosaic Encounters) exhibition. Since then, every two years in October, Chartres celebrates contemporary mosaic with a great festival. The magic of mosaic calls and mosaicists from all over the world traverse the long distances that separate them to meet here in collegiality. It is an altogether extraordinary and enlightening event.

On Saturday, October 27th, the 9th Recontres Internationales Mosaique opened its doors in three exhibition spaces:

  • Chapelle du Lycée Fulbert: International exhibit of 230 mosaics by professionals, amateurs and beginners
  • Chapelle St Eman: International exhibition of “Bibliomosaico” – Art books in mosaic. The exhibition runs until February 10, 2013.
  • Médiathèque Apostrophe: Exhibit of professional artists including: Paul Raccagni, Verdiano Marzi, Marco De Luca, Gerard Brand, Pascale Beauchamps and more.

In addition to the exhibitions there have been two presentations: “The Chicago Mosaic School” by Karen Ami and “A Brief History of the Artist Book: Bibliomosaico” by Rosetta Berardi.

The next great festival of contemporary mosaic, RavennaMosaico, will be held from October 12th to November 20th, 2013 in Ravenna, Italy.

Rosetta Berardi lives and works in Ravenna. She graduated with a degree in painting from the Academy of Fine Arts in Ravenna and has a degree in Contemporary Art History from the University of Bologna. She has had numerous solo exhibitions in Italy and abroad and her work can be found in both museums and private collections. For the past fifteen years, Berardi has focused on photography creating photos in which the eye scans the little things which show the essence of a person; eyes, feet and glances.

Berardi has worked with Girasole Publishers in the creation of art books and exhibitions. She serves on the Board of Directors of Ravenna’s Municipal Art Museum and is a founding member of the International Association for Mosaic (AIMC) where she serves as Secretary General.

All photos ©Rosetta Berardi

Caroline Cortes, France Amateur

Pantaleo Giannaccari, Italy Professional

Elisabeth Foucher, France Amateur


Verdiano Marzi, Italy Professional

Paulina Okurowska, Poland Professional

Matteo Randi, Italy Professional

Matteo Randi, Italy, (detail) Professional

Paolo Raccagni, Italy Professional

Paolo Racagni, Italy (detail)

Paolo Racagni (Detail)

Catie Riviere, France Amateur

Sophie Drouin, Canada Professional

Olivier Gramond, France Amateur

Dugald MacInnes, Scotland Professional

Renée Antoine, France Amateur

Pascale Beauchamps, France Professional

Gerard Brand, France Professional


Yoko Isomura, France Amateur

Britta Kuth, Germany Amateur

Toyokahru Kii, Japan Professional

Karen Ami, USA Professional