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Mosaic at the 2013 Venice Biennale Part 2: Tadei, Sigurdardóttir & Williams

Our exploration of mosaic at the 2013 Venice Biennale which began with Mohamed Banawy’s mosaic contributions to the Egyptian Pavilion continues with quick looks at three wildly different works  by artists from Italy, Iceland and Wales.

MariaLuisa Tadei Il Castello di Sole: The Venetian Pavilion at the Giardini

Sponsored by Towards Regional Integration of Artistic Development (TRIAD) based in the UK, Italian artist Marialusia Tadei‘s Il Castello di Sole – The Castle of the Sun – pays homage to Venice’s place in history along the legendary Silk Route.

Marialuisa Tadei “Il Castello di Sole” The Castle of the Sun 2013 280 x 490 x 280 cm. Silk, mosaic, wood.      Photo via

Inspired by the “pleasure dome” of Coleridge’s poem, Kubla Kahn, the outside of Tadei’s Castello is a mosaic of silk thread while the inside is an absolutely splendid mosaic of Orsoni gold smalti fabricated by Marco Santi and the Gruppo Mosaicisti Ravenna.

Photo via

The quotes that follow are from the TRIAD website and were written by curator Veerangamakamuri Solanki.

On the occasion of the 55th Venice Biennale, TRIAD is proud to support and present the works of the Italian artist Marialuisa Tadei at the Venice Pavilion, curated by Ewald Stastny.

Sited at the end of the Silk Route from Asia, Venice was one of the key European centres of trade and a magnet for craftsmen, a place where originality and authenticity of material and form was valued. In the work—Il Castello di Sole (The Castle of Sun)—created by Marialuisa Tadei, oriental connotations and tales from the East travel Westward. 

Detail of exterior silk tapestry      Photo via

Working with the medium of silk and her practised medium of sculpture, Tadei has created an exterior castle of silk with a designed mosaic pattern, which becomes the medium of constantly refracting and reflecting shapes as one enters the work.

Detail of interior mosaic     Photo via

Mosaic was a commonly used medium in Byzantine art and during the period of Marco Polo, as well as in medieval architecture and art. Strongly influenced by aspects of the Renaissance as well, the artist speaks about the influence of the Church in her works with metaphors of the gold mosaic representing the sun, the regal divinity of Jesus Christ and the iconography of God. 

Faberge would have approved. We are very much looking forward to our own divine experience when we visit Tadei’s Castello in person this coming October.

  • TRIAD installation website here
  • Marialuisa Tadei website here
  • Gruppo Mosaicisti Ravenna here

Katrín Sigurdardóttir  Foundation:  The Icelandic Pavilion at Lavenderia/The Old Laundry at the Palazzo Zenobio 

Katrín Sigurdardóttir “Foundation”

Opulent opus sectile flows magnificently from indoors to out in this lavish installation by Icelandic artist Katrín Sigurdardóttir.  (All photos via

A description from the installation’s website:

The artist has created a floating platform covered by an ornate, baroque-inspired design, measuring approximately 90 square metres.The outline of the architectural structure takes its form from the footprint of a typical 18th century pavilion.

Photo via

It intersects both interior and exterior spaces of this auxiliary building in the garden of the Palace, with two sets of stairs for access by visitors.

The project is born from a career-long exploration of distance and memory and their embodiments in architecture, urbanism, cartography, and landscape.


  • Icelandic Pavilion website here
  • Contemporary Art Daily article with more photos here
  • Katrin Sigurdardóttir website here

Bedwyr Williams –  The Starry Messenger   Wales in Venice  at The Ludestera Santa Maria Ausiliatrice

Bedwyr Williams “The Starry Messenger” Photo via

Welsh artist Bedwyr Williams combined his love of amateur astronomy and inspiration from the convent that serves as the site for his installation to create The Starry Messenger. According to the Arts Council of Wales website, the aim of the installation is to “explore the relationships between stargazing and the home, the cosmos, and the role of the amateur in a professional world.”

From what we are able to discern, this portion of Wales in Venice comprises a miniature observatory, “terrazzo” painted panels referencing the floors of the convent, and an 18 minute, scratch-our-head video which includes footage of men making mosaics and William’s clad in tesserae and half a set of false teeth while wedged between rocks.

Starry Messenger (Preview) from Ewan Jones Morris on Vimeo.

The Independent’s Zoe Pilger found deemed the video a “crazily brilliant film” in her review.

“On a less gothic note, Welsh artist Bedwyr Williams has made a series of metaphysical installations and a crazily brilliant film about bits: “flecks, chunks, slivers.” Shots of craftsman cutting Venetian mosaic tiles are followed by shots of peas in aspic and teeth being scraped clean. More than zany, the film is a thoughtful meditation on loneliness and the power of art to make sense of the chaos of the cosmos. It was inspired by the terrazzo floor of the former nunnery in which Wales in Venice is displayed.” – Zoe Pilger

The title of this multi-media installation refers to Galileo’s Sidereus Nuncius or Starry Messenger, a published account of his personal telescopic explorations of the Moon and Jupiter.

One wonders what Galileo would have thought of the film . . .

Enjoy – Nancie


  • Exhibition website here
  • BBC Video with the artist here
  • Zoe Pilger’s full review here


  • Mosaics of the 2013 Venice Biennale Part 1: Mohamed Banawy the Egyptian Pavilion, here.
  • Mosaics of the 2013 Venice Biennale Part 3: Domingo Zapata translated by Koko Mosaico of Ravenna here
  • Mosaics of the 2013 Venice Biennale Part 4:  Zhanna Kadyrova at the Ukranian Pavilion here.


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  1. Carole Choucair Oueijan

    Nancie, Tadei “Il Castello di Sole” it is! As Lilian said: it is magical. I just wish to see it in person.
    I also love Benawy’s work. Very creative rich and simple.
    Enjoy enjoy the experience!

  2. Lillian Sizemore

    thanks for curating all in one place Nancie. Tadei’s piece is magical, stepping into the gold cocoon, the extremely refined use of extremely refined material. trying to get my head around the exterior embroidery. Can’t help wondering who did all that stitching? I love the Icelandic ‘floating sculptural intervention’ of opus sectile work. esp. the fanned out stripes vs arabesque shapes in the aerial shot of oddly shaped courtyard. The William’s submission is challenging – with its destruction, the mosaic mask, dissonant jazz – the discomfort of it all. Very different voices interpret use of “modularity” in sculptural installation.

  3. Carole Choucair Oueijan

    This is so beautiful Nancie! Thank you so much for sharing!!!

    • Nancie

      Did you have a favorite, Carole?

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