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“There is no world without mosaics” – Helen Miles



We are great fans of Helen Miles, the very fine Scottish artist who currently resides in Greece. Her classically inspired mosaics (like the portrait of her husband, David, above) charm us and her exquisite writing never fails to inspire us.  If you want to know how the mosaically obsessed walk through the world, read on.  We thank Miles for the opportunity to repost this article from her blog Enjoy – Nancie

Photo of barnacles by Helen Miles

Barnacles, Scottish West Coast  Photo: Helen Miles Mosaics

All summer I felt bereft; longing for mosaics, pining for my studio, aching for the peace and purpose of my work. Every summer I am obliged by the tradition of nine-week-long school holidays to down my tools and go where family and heart and other people’s needs direct me. We always go to Scotland, sometimes driving through Europe, sometimes stopping in England, once striking off eastwards to Turkey or simply staying in our little hillside house on the Greek mountain of Pelion and hanging out on the beach.

Farook relaxing with a good book on the beach. Photo: Helen Miles Mosaics.

Farook relaxing with a good book on the beach. Photo: Helen Miles Mosaics.

There is much to appreciate about the summers. For all their broken-upness, the two days here, three days there nature of them, they allow us all to reconnect. I see old friends, spend time with my increasingly decrepid parents and visit my favourite places. But nonetheless I feel bereft because I can’t be making mosaics.

Tiled floor, Hereford Cathedral, England. Photo: Helen Miles Mosaics.

Tiled floor, Hereford Cathedral, England. Photo: Helen Miles Mosaics.

Usually I compensate for the lack of mosaic time by dragging my reluctant boys to obscure (or not so obscure) mosaic sites. I tailor the summers to make sure our road trips take in mosaic places that otherwise I might never get to see. Over the years we’ve been to Aquileia, Rome, Ravenna, Venice, and even slogged across the Anatolian plains to visit Zeugma. This year there were no such opportunities. We stayed in London for two nights and I snatched a few hours to see Tessa Hunkin at work on a new project with her Hackney Mosaic Project volunteers, but other than that, the entire summer, all 63 days and counting, were entirely mosaic free.

Detail of Hackney Downs Mosaic made by Tessa Hunkin’s Hackney Mosaic Project. Photo: Helen Miles Mosaics.

Detail of Hackney Downs Mosaic made by Tessa Hunkin’s Hackney Mosaic Project. Photo: Helen Miles Mosaics.

But fortunately for me, there’s no world without mosaics. Mosaics are really nothing but the slow and deliberate accumulation of parts, the materials change, the way of achieving that accumulation changes, but essentially they all boil down to the same thing – to pattern, line, movement, form. So, bereft of mosaics, I found them everywhere. We use them to build walls, to shore up seas, to protect our cattle or our kings.

Wall. Ruined castle, Perthshire, Scotland. Photo: Helen Miles Mosaics

Wall. Ruined castle, Perthshire, Scotland. Photo: Helen Miles Mosaics

We see them in the flow of rivers, the line of hills, the shapes of plants and the markings of feathers and shells. We find patterns in the greatest of all human achievements – in mathematics, in music, in poetry, in architecture – they are essential to the way we exist. Codes, chess, mazes, maps, textiles – all, when you strip away the wrapping, are nothing more than patterns and lines. This summer, watching a performance at the Edinburgh Festival, I even saw mosaics in the choreography of the dancers’ moves – that fluid crescent, the perfect curve of energy, muscle and motion.

Sea urchin shell. Photo: Helen Miles Mosaics

Sea urchin shell. Photo: Helen Miles Mosaics

Without my own mosaics to focus on, I found my mosaic antennae constantly zinging and pinging, alerting me to real and imagined mosaics. I couldn’t stroll down a street, lie on the beach, go on a country walk, visit a museum or do any of the other myriad ordinary things that the summer entails without finding an actual mosaic or a mosaic connection. On the Sydenham High Street in London, lined with funeral parlours and fast food outlets, I looked up and found this decorating a public building:

Detail of a mosaic, Sydenham High Street, London. Photo: Helen Miles Mosaics

Detail of a mosaic, Sydenham High Street, London. Photo: Helen Miles Mosaics

Visiting an English Heritage house in Herefordshire, I was delighted to see this:

Micro mosaic of Roman ruins, Croft Castle, Yarpole, Herefordshire. Photo: Helen Miles Mosaics

Micro mosaic of Roman ruins, Croft Castle, Yarpole, Herefordshire. Photo: Helen Miles Mosaics

These casual, incidental mosaics like this one at an Edinburgh shop threshold, remind me that mosaics aren’t an esoteric, weird out-there kind of thing, but something that all kinds of people in all kinds of ways have sought for and appreciated from those Roman banqueteers adorning their dining floors to 19th century country gentlemen on their grand tours to our own elected councillors thinking how to brighten a dull facade.

Shop threshold, Edinburgh, Scotland. Photo: Helen Miles Mosaics

Shop threshold, Edinburgh, Scotland. Photo: Helen Miles Mosaics

Nature, of course, does it best.

Dandelion. Photo: Helen Miles Mosaics

Dandelion. Photo: Helen Miles Mosaics

Nature is the one that gave us mosaics in the first place (a leopard’s coat, a peacock’s display, a fish’s dappled markings) and then gave us stone. When that mosaic antennae of mine was pinging about but sending no signals back, I found stone, that lovely neglected stuff, to relish in. I got up early to really look at the stones that line our favourite beach and found that once I started looking there was more and more to see:

Rock strata, Kalamaki beach, Pelion, Greece. Photo: Helen Miles Mosaics

Rock strata, Kalamaki beach, Pelion, Greece. Photo: Helen Miles Mosaics

It turns out that once you stop you can’t fail to notice that the process of life, the slow erosion of all we build and create, produces it’s own mosaics. Paint weathers in the rain, street tiles break, porcelain acquires an exquisite patina of cracks:

Flaking paint on wooden door, Perthshire, Scotland. Photo: Helen Miles Mosaics

Flaking paint on wooden door, Perthshire, Scotland. Photo: Helen Miles Mosaics

Nature can’t seem to help itself – there’s a constant need to break out, push up, slide in. It’s what we do when we make mosaics, fitting parts around other parts and once we see that there is no world without mosaics, we see that that’s precisely what’s going on around us:

Tarmac and pebbles, New Town, Edinburgh, Scotland. Photo: Helen Miles Mosaics

Tarmac and pebbles, New Town, Edinburgh, Scotland. Photo: Helen Miles Mosaics

Succulents between rocks, Perthshire, Scotland. Photo: Helen Miles Mosaics.

Succulents between rocks, Perthshire, Scotland. Photo: Helen Miles Mosaics.

In the process of my mosaic finding I discovered too that my brother, well into middle age and living quietly on the shores of Loch Fyne on Scotland’s west coast, is busy making his own version of mosaics – cutting out random quotations from the Bible and sticking them with that restless obsessive mosaic making urge, onto styrofoam balls:

‘Mosaics’ of paper. Photo: Helen Miles Mosaics

‘Mosaics’ of paper. Photo: Helen Miles Mosaics

Add in my mother’s knitting and my great grandfather’s embroidery and you can see that my mosaic thang runs deep and strong:

My great grandfather’s embroidery. Photo: Helen Miles Mosaics

My great grandfather’s embroidery. Photo: Helen Miles Mosaics

Dear reader, I must confess that I was so determined to show you that there is no world without mosaics I went so far as to take a rather elegant photograph of sheep’s poo in a field in Perthshire but on the off chance that you are eating your breakfast, I thought I’d leave you with this rather more salubrious photograph of beachnut casings:

Beachnut casings. Photo: Helen Miles Mosaics.

Beachnut casings. Photo: Helen Miles Mosaics.

Mosaics by Helen Miles:

Helen Miles "Wedding Mosaic"  2014

Helen Miles “Wedding Mosaic” 2014

Helen Miles . Copy of Nilotic mosaic

Helen Miles . Copy of Nilotic mosaic

Helen Miles "Yoga"

Helen Miles “Yoga”


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Prix Picassiette 2014 Winners Announced

1st Prize, Professional Category:  Karen Ami (USA) "Dialogues"

1st Prize Professional   Karen Ami (USA) “Dialogues”

Chartres les 3Rs, the organization which produces the biennial Les Recontres des Internationales de Mosaïque de Chartres (International Mosaic Encounters in Chartres), has announced the winners of the 2014 Prix Picassiette Prizes. With its self-selecting categories of Professional, Amateur Initiés (Advanced), Amateur and Youth & Groups, the event is a marvelous mash-up that places accomplished masters next to enthusiastic newcomers in the sublimely beautiful Chapelle du Lycée Fulbert.

Photo: Stefan Wolters

Photo: Stefan Wolters

This year, the Prix was supplemented by two satellite exhibits: Selected works by members of the British Association for Modern Mosaic (BAMM) and a tribute to the incomparable Ines Morigi Berti of Ravenna at Chapelle Saint-Éman which runs through January 18.  Sadly, Morigi Berti, who was a revered teacher and famed mosaicist, passed away at the age of 100 on October 26th.

Ines Morigi Berti

Ines Morigi Berti (1914 – 2014)

The Association is an extraordinarily unique organization whose 3Rs stand for Rénovar,Restaurer,Réhabiliter (Renovate, Restore, Rehabilitate). Founder Patrick Macquaire and the 3R staff are dedicated to carrying on the mosaic tradition of “The Father” of picassiette, Raymond Isidore (1900-1964) and creating an economic revival for the Chartres area. Earlier this month, Macquire spoke at BAMM’s annual Forum about the exhibition and his organization – you can see a video of his presentation here.

We thank Marquaire for providing us with the professional images of the winners seen here and send a special shout-out to the talented Stefan Wolters for his “atmospheric” photographic contributions.


  • 1st Prize:  Karen Ami (USA)  Dialogues (above)
  • 2nd Prize:  Ariane Blanquet (France)  Moon
  • 3rd Prize:  Delphine Legal Quemener (France)  Pierre and Patience
  • Special Mention:  Dugald MacInnes (UK)  Fragile Earth
2nd Place Professional Category:  Ariane Blanquet (France) "Moon"

Ariane Blanquet (France) “Moon”

3rd Prize Professional Cateogry:  Delphine Legal Quemener (France) "Pierre and Patience"

Delphine Legal Quemener (France) “Pierre and Patience”

Special Distinction Professional Category: Dugald MacInnes  (UK) "Fragile Earth"

Dugald MacInnes (UK) “Fragile Earth”

Amateurs Initiés (Advanced)

Elisabeth Foucher (France) “Le Poinconneur des Lilas”

  • 1st Prize:  Elisabeth Foucher (France)  Le Poinçonneur de Lilas 
  • 2nd Prize:  Annie Dunlop (France)  Contraste 
  • 3rd Prize:  Angela Sanders (UK)   Ice 
  • Special Mention:  Monique Duteil (France)   Ko 
  • Special Mention: Marie-Odile Laurent (France)   La Poule Aux Ouefs D’Or Musifs 

Annie Dunlop (France) “Contrast”

2nd Prize Amateurs Initiés: Angela Sanders "Ice"

Angela Sanders (UK) “Ice”

Special Mention Amateurs Initiés:  Monique Duteil "Ko"

Monique Duteil (France)  “Ko”

Special Mention Amateur Initiés: Marie-Odile Laurent "La Poule Aux Oeufs D'Or Musifs"

Marie-Odile Laurent (France) “La Poule Aux Oeufs D’Or Musifs”


1st Place Amateur Category - Dina Angistriotu (Belgium) "Mur Non Entrevant"

Dina Angistriotu (Belgium) “Mur Non Entrevant”

  •  1st Prize:  Dina Angistriotu (Belgium)  Mur Non Entravant
  • 2nd Prize:  Joelle Laudy (France)  Le Migrateur
  • 3rd Prize:  Rosa Coupe (France)  Clin d’Oeil a La Belle Dame Ancestrale Dominant La Beauce 
  • Special Mention:  Marianne Fiette (France)  Zebres Urbains 
2nd Prize  Amateur Category:  Joelle Laudy (France) "Le Migrateur"

Joelle Laudy (France) “Le Migrateur”

3rd Prize, Amateur Category:  Rosa Coupe (France) "Clin d'Oeil a La Belle Dame Ancestrale Dominant La Beauce"

Rosa Coupe (France) “Clin d’Oeil a La Belle Dame Ancestrale Dominant La Beauce”

Special Distinction Amateur Category:  Marianne Fiette (France)  "Zebres Urbains"

Marianne Fiette (France) “Zebres Urbains”

Public Vote

1st Prize Public Vote:  Christine Dalibert (France) "Vague"

Christine Dalibert (France) “Vague”

  • 1st Prize:  Christine Dalibert (France) “Vague”
  • 2nd Prize:  Gary Drostle (UK) “Shrapnel 1914 – War Is A Gun With A Worker At Each End”
  • 3rd Prize:  François Thibault (France)  “Autoportrait D’Apres Van Gogh”
  • Special Mention: Nathalie Vin (UK) “Multiverse”

Gary Drostle (UK) “Shrapnel 1914 – War Is A Gun With A Worker At Each End”

Francois Thibault (France) "Autoportrait d'Apres Van Gogh (Self Portrait After Van Gogh)"

Francois Thibault (France) “Autoportrait d’Apres Van Gogh (Self Portrait After Van Gogh)”

Nathalie Vin (UK) "Multiverse"

Nathalie Vin (UK) “Multiverse”

Youth and Groups

Centre Accuel de Jour Dyzeure "La Femme A La Fleur, Homage A Pablo Picasso"

Centre Accuel de Jour Dyzeure (France) “La Femme A La Fleur, Homage A Pablo Picasso”

  • 1st Prize:   Centre d’Accueil De Jour D’Yzeure Envol   La Femme A La Fleur, Hommage A Pablo Picasso
  • 2nd Prize:  Le colectif “Projet Theodora” D’Albi-Mosaïque Projet Theodora
  • 3rd Prize (tie):  A.I.P.E.I. Empro Edelweiss  Empreinte
  • 3rd Prize (tie):  Espace de Proximite Cite Marcel Cochin RomainVille  L’Asteromainville
The Collective Projet Theodora D'Albi-Mosaïque  "Projet Theodora"

The Collective Projet Theodora D’Albi-Mosaïque (France) “Projet Theodora”

A.I.P.E.I. Empro Edelweiss "Empreinte"

A.I.P.E.I. Empro Edelweiss (France)  “Empreinte”

G-Espace de Proximité cité Marcel Cochin

Espace de Proximité Cité Marcel Cochin Romainville (France)  “L’Asteromainville”

Fulbert Prizes

To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Association 3R and the 18th anniversary of Les Recontres des Internationales de Mosaïque de Chartres, the jurors gave prizes to two ground-breaking mosaic artists, Giovanna Galli and Gerard Brand, for their noteworthy bodies of work and personal contributions to the development of mosaic.

Giovanna Galli (France)

Giovanna Galli (France)

Gerard Brand (France)

Gerard Brand (France)

Photo: Stefan Wolters

Visitors in the exhibit   Photo: Stefan Wolters

Photo:  Stefan Wolters

Photo: Stefan Wolters

Photo:  Stefan Wolters

BAMM Exhibit presentations     Photo: Stefan Wolters

Photo:  Stefan Wolters

Photo: Stefan Wolters

Photo:   Stefan Wolters

Photo: Stefan Wolters

Photo:  Stefan Wolters

Photo: Stefan Wolters

Photo Stefan Wolters

Photo:   Stefan Wolters

Photo Stefan Wolters

Photo:  Stefan Wolters



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BiblioMosaico: The Book as a Muse for Mosaic

Verdiano Marzi “Pinnochi” 2011 (Italy)

“I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.”                                                                                                                –  Jorge Luis Borges

Surely, Book Paradise will look something like this . . .


National Library of Latvia at Riga   Photo: Rosetta Berardi

Photo Rosetta Berardi

. . .  the stunning National Library of Latvia in Riga designed by Gunnar Birkerts, current home of BiblioMosaico, a collection of mosaics devoted to The Book created by some of the medium’s modern masters.

Photo Rosetta Berardi

Bibliomosaico is the brainchild of Rosetta Berardi, editor at Edizioni del Girasole, a specialty publisher of art books based in Ravenna, Italy.  Berardi conceived the exhibit in 2009 in conjunction with the first RavennaMosaico, the International Festival of Contemporary Mosaics.  That year, Berardi invited nine artists to “reflect on the form of books, on the representation of a book as an object that wants to be looked at but not read, a book that is ‘not a book’, a book which may have lots its words but gained a specific conceptional meaning as an open work of art.”

Toyoharu Kii "Crime Report - Testimony" 2013 (Japan)

Toyoharu Kii “Crime Report – Testimony” 2013 (Japan)

Since then, over 50 artists have participated in Bibliomosaico and now 34 of their works are scattered throughout the Riga Library where visitors will discover them hidden in the stacks, reclining on book trolleys and displayed on shelves.

Nikos Tolis "Volume arte mosaico" (Mosaic Art Volume) 2013 (Greece)

Nikos Tolis “Volume Arte Mosaico” (Mosaic Art Volume) 2013 (Greece)

Sophie Drouin "Censure" 2013 (Canada)

Sophie Drouin “Censure” 2013 (Canada)

Some of the mosaics are quite literal, like Verdiano Marzi’s Pinocchi or Sophie Drouin’s Censure.  Others, like Gerard Brand’s Six Pages in Lace and Samantha Holmes’ Absence  pay homage to Ravenna’s Byzantine mosaic heritage in new and intriguing ways.

Gérard Brand "Sei Pagine in Pizzo" (Six Pages in Lace) 2013 (France)

Gérard Brand “Sei Pagine in Pizzo” (Six Pages in Lace) 2013 (France)

Samantha Holmes "Absence (Mobile)" 2013 (USA)

Samantha Holmes “Absence (Mobile)” 2013 (USA)

This current showing of Bibliomosaico is part of a larger mosaic-centered exchange between Riga, the current Cultural Capital for the European Union and Ravenna, which is vying for the title in 2019.  Also on display in the Library are large-scale reproductions of some of Ravenna’s most iconic Byzantine treasures.

Andris Vilks, Director of the Library, Ouidad Bakkali, Minister of Culture-Ravenna,  Giovanni Polizzi, Italian Ambassador

Director of the Latvian National Library Andris Vilks, Minister of Culture for Ravenna Ouidad Bakkali, Italian Ambassador Giovanni Polizzi

We were first charmed and delighted by Bibliomosaico during RavennaMosaico in 2011 and found it to be one of our top three favorite exhibitions for RavennaMosaico 2013.

Kazumi Kurihara "Il Libro Legge" (The book reads) 2011 (Japan)

Kazumi Kurihara “Il Libro Legge” (The Book Reads) 2011 (Japan)

One of our favorites from 2011 was Raniero Bittante’s Bubble Gum Italia. Three copies of the Italian constitution encrusted with red, white and green smalti adhered with used wads of bubblegum were accompanied by a video of Italians blowing bubbles. This work turned out to be far more literal than we thought at first glance.  Bittante is reflecting on the 150 years of Italy’s political unity in a classical mosaic sense – each individual, regardless of race or ethnicity, is part of the whole – like the tesserae of a mosaic.  Bubble gum as the “mortar” or glue that holds it together?  Of course.  Just think of the DNA contained in a wad of used bubble gum.  Brilliant.

Raniero Bittante "Bubble Gum Italia" 2011 (Italy)

Raniero Bittante “Bubble Gum Italia” 2011 (Italy)

We think BiblioMosaico is an absolutely splendid representation of how the medium can be used to convey powerful themes and individual expression.  We are going to leave you here with images from all three editions of BiblioMosaico and commentary by curator Berardi.  The exhibit runs through August 30th.  All photos unless noted were taken by Berardi who is also a professional photographer.  Enjoy – Nancie (And don’t forget to click to enlarge)

Felice Nittolo 2011 (Italy)

Felice Nittolo “EVOCARE” (EVOKE) 2011 (Italy)

Rosetta Berardi:

The artist’s book denies itself nothing, it can even dare to be unreadable. Every artist gives a personal interpretation of the book using the force of substance, the plasticity of structure, the diversity of materials and bringing into play his or her own sensitivity. The results are poetical objects that challenge the writing and concentrate on technique, form and harmony.

Mélanie Lanoe "Impronte" (Fingerprint) 2011  (France)

Mélanie Lanoe “Impronte” (Fingerprint) 2011 (France)

Viewers are encouraged to watch the artwork and read it on the basis of a visual grammar. The meaning of the book is expressed without words. The book, depository of the written word, changes its function: it is no longer meant to be read, but rather looked at to.

Silvia Naddeo, 2011 (Italy)

Silvia Naddeo “Storia di una Zucchina” (The Story of a Zucchini) 2009 (Italy) Photo: George Fishman

A creative exercise that involves both young and experienced artists, who engage in the production of artworks conceived for being displayed among paper books, like jewels set in a ring.

Julie Richey "Vademecum" 2014  (USA)

Julie Richey “Vade Mecum” 2014 (USA)

The exhibition was originally designed to give a look of precious elegance to a space that communicates and interacts with the works in an exemplary way.  

Atsuo Suzumura, 2011

Atsuo Suzumura “9 Libri” (9 Books), 2011 (Japan)

Mosaics fascinate us, and the subject of the book makes them even more enchanting. – Rosetta Berardi

Pamela Irving "Mr. Logomania" 2013 (Australia)

Pamela Irving “Mr. Logomania” 2013 (Australia)

Rosanna Fattorini  2009 (Italy)

Rosanna Fattorini 2009 (Italy)

Sonia King "Tabula Rasa" 2013 (USA)

Sonia King “Tabula Rasa” 2013 (USA)

Roberta Grasso, 2011 (Italy)

Roberta Grasso, 2011 (Italy)


National Library of Latvia at Riga Photo: Rosetta Berardi


Verdiano Marzi "Pinnochi" 2011 (Italy) Photo Rosetta Berardi

Works on shelves

Photo Rosetta Berardi

Library exterior 1

Photo Rosetta Berardi


Sophie Drouin "Censure" 2013 (Canada)

Gérard Brand Six pages en dentelleFRANCIA2013photoRosettaBerardi

Gérard Brand "Sei Pagine in Pizzo" (Six Pages in Lace) 2013 (France)

Samantha Holmes

Samantha Holmes "Absence (Mobile)" 2013 (USA)


Toyoharu Kii "Crime Report - Testimony" 2013 (Japan)


Rosanna Fattorini 2009 (Italy)




Felice Nittolo 2011 (Italy)

Nikos_ Tolis_Volume arte mosaico_2013_Photo_RosettaBerardi copy

Nikos Tolis "Volume arte mosaico" (Mosaic Art Volume) 2013 (Greece)


Andris Vilks, Director of the Library, Ouidad Bakkali, Minister of Culture-Ravenna, Giovanni Polizzi, Italian Ambassador


Kazumi Kurihara "Il Libro Legge" (The book reads) 2011 (Japan)

Julie Richey_Vademecum_2014 - USA_PhotoRosettaBerardi

Julie Richey "Vademecum" 2014 (USA)

Mélanie Lanoe_Impronte_2011 - Francia_PhotoRosettaBerardi

Mélanie Lanoe "Impronte" (Fingerprint) 2011 (France)


Silvia Naddeo, 2011 (Italy)

Atsuo Suzumura_2011_PhotoRosettaBerardi

Atsuo Suzumura, 2011

Pamela Irving

Pamela Irving "Mr. Logomania" 2013 (Australia)


Sonia King "Tabula Rasa" 2013 (USA)

Raniero Bittante

Raniero Bittante "Bubble Gum Italia" 2011 (Italy)

Roberta Grasso

Roberta Grasso, 2011 (Italy)

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Comprehensive Article on Isidora Paz López and the Mosaics of Puente Alto

On 08, Apr 2014 | No Comments | In Art, Et cetera, Featured | By Nancie

We were honored when the editors of Andamento, the journal of the British Association for Modern Mosaic (BAMM), asked us to write a comprehensive article covering the magnificent achievement of Isidora Paz Lopez and her team in creating the mosaic murals of Puente Alto, Chile.  With over 30 photographs, the article covers the history, inspiration and methodology of the project as well as the impact the mosaics have had on the citizens of this suburb of Santiago.  It is free for you to read right here.

You can read the article by clicking on the link above, but we strongly urge you to purchase a copy of the publication to see all of the Puente Alto illustrations and to get all of the great content the publication has to offer mosaic lovers. Additional articles include:

Dissolving Into Light: The Creative Journey of Elaine M. Goodwin – Elaine M. Goodwin talking to Ilona Jesnick about how the internationally recognized artist was inspired by working with Nek Chand and transformed by an experience in the Basilica of San Vitale.  Illuminating.

Mosaics by Elaine M. Goodwin

Mosaics by Elaine M. Goodwin

Tygers Burning Bright – Gregory Edwards looks in depth at two mosaic cycles in London devoted to the work of the writer William Blake; the first a 1920s series by Boris Anrep (a personal favorite) and the second an undertaking of the artists and volunteers of the splendid Southbank Mosaics. Really great reading.


Mosaics by Boris Anrep at Tate Britain illustrating “Proverbs of Hell”

Mosaic by "Project Blake" Southbank Mosaics

Mosaic by “Project Blake” Southbank Mosaics

Hodie Mecum Eris In Paradiso – Victorian Arts and Crafts historian Neil Moat has made a marvelous discovery; the origins of the decorative motifs later to be associated with Continental Art Nouveau in the mosaics by Messrs. Rust & Co’s mosaics at St. George’s Church. Fascinating history and beautiful photos.

Messers. Rust & Co mosaic pavements in St. George's church, Jesmond

Messers. Rust & Co mosaic pavements in St. George’s church, Jesmond

This issue of Andamento is truly wonderful.  Now, go buy one!


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“Con Te Partirò”: Jeroen Meijer’s Mosaic Farewell to His Mother

On 28, Mar 2014 | 8 Comments | In Art, Artists, Home Spotlight Articles | By Nancie

Jeroen Meijer "Con Te Partiro" 2014 256 x 120 cm

Jeroen Meijer “Con Te Partiro” 2014 256 x 120 cm

When Dutch artist Jeroen Meijer shared his latest mosaic with us earlier this year, we were stunned by the depth and beauty of it.

This commemoration of his mother’s passing was so moving on so many levels, we spent a great deal of time studying it before contacting him with our many questions.  He graciously answered all of them, sharing in his own words (below) the background behind a piece that shimmers with emotional realism. We are honored to share it with MAN readers here.

As you explore “Con Te Partirò” (Time To Say Goodbye), consider how mosaic and only mosaic could have enabled Meijer to achieve his goals for this work.  The artist is a master storyteller, weaving the “warp” of carefully selected and custom-made tesserae with the “weft” of imagery, symbolism and composition to create a rich tapestry of spirituality. One could easily think of Meijer’s work as a modern-day take on the work of the 17th century Dutch Masters.

Here is the entire image again, which we hope you will click to enlarge.

Jeroen Meijer "Con Te Partiro" 2014 256 x 120 cm

Here is the Holy Trinity and a reference to his mother’s marital life in the triangular shape of the work itself. A sort of “reverse pietá” exists in the position of Meijer and his mother on her bed. In the foreground a crow, a multi-cultural symbol of insight, destiny, transformation and death carrying a wedding ring in its beak sits in front of portraits of the two deceased husbands.



A pair of scissors in Meijer’s hand signals his participation in making the decision to suspend his mother’s life support.


As you’ll discover in his description of Con Te Partirò, every single item has meaning. The result is a level of density and raw emotionalism that we seldom see in mosaic. 

We first introduced Meijer (and his mother) to MAN readers in 2012 (to see more of his fantastic portraits, click here). Coincidentally, Meijer was recently contacted by a production company with a request to use “Mater Nostra” on the set of an American television series that will be debuting soon. 

“Mater Nostra” 2008 108 x 80 cm

Meijer’s voice is powerful and authentic and his use of the mosaic medium unique and refreshing. We understand a solo exhibition is in the works and hope to see his work in upcoming international exhibitions.

Con Te Partirò   By Jeroen Meijer

In August of 2010, my mother had a very severe stroke. My brothers, sisters, and I decided that, according to her wishes, she would be cut off from life-support systems and so let nature take its course. It took ten days for my mother’s body to surrender.  During those ten days my brothers, sisters and I took shifts to be at her bedside.

We decorated the room with souvenirs from every family member and photographs of her two deceased husbands. We filled it with the soft tunes of her favorite CDs including Vangelis’ “1492: Conquest of Paradise” and Andrea Bocelli and his famous “Con te partirò“ (Time To Say Goodbye).  I believe that when the spirit elevates from the body it actually can see the room where it has died. We tried to create a space that would feel familiar for my mother on her journey.

Most of the time my partner Buba and I took the night shift with my mother. Every morning at sunrise, looking through the window, we noticed two crows sitting on the rooftop of the hospital warming up in the first beams of sunlight. I liked to believe that the two birds were my deceased father and stepfather waiting for my mother to die – waiting to accompany her spirit towards the light.

For me the biggest sadness and dilemma was to deprive my mother – who was the very symbol of nourishment, safety, and unconditional love in my life – of bodily nourishment and so, to let her die.  Equally difficult was to come to see that decision as the ultimate act of love on my part.

About the title: During this period we stayed at my mothers place. We left the radio tuned in to the only station she ever listened to – one that exclusively played German folks songs or “schlagers.”  One morning, while Buba and I were making preparations to leave for the hospital, we were amazed to hear Andrea Bocelli’s “Con te partiro” coming from the radio. Half a minute later the phone rang.  It was my sister calling from the hospital.  Our mother had just died.

While I was working on this mosaic – and even now – I feel grateful that my mother gave my brothers, my sisters and me the opportunity to help and share her last moments.

Notes about the mosaic:

At some point I had to take a little nap and Buba, touched by the moment, took this photograph with her mobile phone.


The bedding I made from shards of my mother’s “fancy” dinner service. This type of colonial pottery called “Boerenbont” (multi-coloured farmer style) was very popular in the 60s and 70s.  Because every item was hand painted (exclusively by women!) the dishes were also quite expensive. Therefore, they became a popular birthday-present for children – like me and my siblings – to give to their mothers until the service was complete.


When I thought about it after completing this mosaic, I realized that all my brothers and sisters had contributed tesserae to create this beautiful family patchwork blanket.  The decoration of this  pottery is nice and simple; I liked using it, because it reflects for me my mother’s uncomplicated personality.


I made hexagonal tesserae to create a honey comb room for my mother.  The Queen Bee’s first occupation is to build perfect shelters with (sweet) nourishment for her offspring; I wished to return to my mother what she had given to me.


After my mother remarried, she and her new husband (in the blue coat in the left-hand photo) agreed that they would be buried together in the same grave.


As I was completing the mosaic, I saw at the Hieronymus* Bosch museum in Den Bosch a replica of “Ascent of the Blessed”, a painting that was part of the four panel polyptych “Visions of the Hereafter.”

Ascent of the Blessed

I believe that the Flemish master was the first to paint a “tunnel of light” in connection with the afterlife.  Studying this painting, I am certain he was familiar with stories of near-death experiences and “rebirthing.” (hence the “birth canal” of light).



*A coincidence is that my name, Jeroen, is derived from the Greek “Hieronymus.”

Jeroen Meijer, March 2014


  • Jeroen Meijer’s website
  • See more of Jeroen Meijer’s work on Mosaic Art NOW here


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In Et cetera

By Nancie

Fashion Victim: Artist Lilian Broca’s Mosaic Imagery Stolen

On 22, Nov 2013 | 6 Comments | In Et cetera | By Nancie


When Dolce & Gabanna debuted their Winter 2014 collection inspired by the Byzantine mosaics of Monreale, Sicily earlier this year, we were enchanted. (See “Mosaic as Fashion’s Muse“)


When photos of pop culture icons Katy Perry (Met Ball)  and Vanessa Hudgens (YouTube Awards) wearing gowns from the collection went viral, we gleefully tweeted and Facebooked.

Photo via

Photo via

If we could afford it, you can be sure that we would be sporting any number of items from this collection. Perhaps one of these gorgeous blouses . . .

Dolce & Gabbana stretch silk blouse $830

Dolce & Gabbana stretch silk blouse $830 via


Dolce & Gabbana stretch silk blouse $925 via

Dolce & Gabbana stretch silk blouse $925 via

So far, so good. Sumptuous Byzantine mosaics are now the darlings of haute couture and pop culture. Being mosaic-centric, we are happy. Successful fashion trends like this often “trickle down” to the mass market. Remember this wonderful scene from The Devil Wears Prada?

Unfortunately, we don’t think that the horrendous blouse below is what Meryl was talking about.

Q E Blouse 1

The photo above was taken in a very chic department story in Istanbul earlier this week. The imagery you see here has been stolen from contemporary mosaic artist Lilian Broca.

Lilian Broca "Queen Esther Holding Evidence of Haman's Guilt" 2002  48 x 32 in

Lilian Broca “Queen Esther Holding Evidence of Haman’s Guilt” 2002 48 x 32 in

This is not the trickle down of a fashion concept. This is theft.  Some designer for a women’s wear manufacturer saw the buzz about Katy and Vanessa in social media and thought, “Aha! If we act fast, this is a trend we can make money from. I’ll just start googling Byzantine mosaic.”  And voila, we have the abdomen covering abomination above and the equally hideous rip-off below.

Q E Blouse 2

Lilian Broca "Queen Esther Revealing Her True Identity"  2006 48 x 33 in.

Lilian Broca “Queen Esther Revealing Her True Identity” 2006 48 x 33 in.

With a little googling of our own, we quickly found several dresses for sale on line made from a fabric with a mosaic “mash up” pattern that included figures from another one of the Queen Esther works.

Copy of Dress

Screen Shot 2013-11-22 at 12.45.39 PM

Lilian Broca "Haman Leading Mordechai on the Royal Horse" 2006 70 x 33

Lilian Broca “Haman Leading Mordechai on the Royal Horse” 2006 70 x 33

In this case, the fabric’s designer actually swapped out Haman’s head for that of Mordechai – an aesthetic choice we are a bit baffled by. Bad taste aside, it is, again, theft. And, if we looked long enough, we could probably find the work of still more contemporary mosaic artists in this mish-mosh of a print.

It took Lilian Broca over five years to make the 10 mosaics in The Queen Esther Series which covers the Biblical thriller about a Hebrew beauty contest winner who conceals her religion, becomes a queen and, through the courageous use of her womanly wiles, saves her people from a massacre sanctioned by her husband. Individual works have garnered international awards including a Gold Medal from the 2003 Florence Biennale and a place in MAN’s Exhibition in Print 2011. Famed feminist artist Judy Chicago wrote the forward to a book about the mosaics – “The Hidden and the Revealed: The Queen Esther Mosaics of Lilian Broca” and a documentary about Broca’s life –  “Return to Byzantium: The Art and Life of Lilian Broca” – has received critical acclaim.

This is not the first time that Broca has had her work appropriated. She is understandably frustrated and angry.

In the past I have seen my mosaics reproduced badly and cheaply by unscrupulous companies in 3rd world countries. This time the designs were stolen and printed on clothes. It pains me to great lengths to see my art reduced to decorative patterns on mass produced fabrics intended for wear. As artists, have we no recourse?

As far as we can see – apparently not. International laws on artist’s rights are, at best, flimsy and Broca does not have the resources of a Louis Vuitton or Jeff Koons.  It’s just a damned shame.


  • Lilian Broca’s website
  • Lilian Broca in MAN’s Exhibition in Print 2011 here
  • Review of “The Hidden and the Revealed: The Queen Esther Mosaics of Lilian Broca” on MAN here
  • Order “The Hidden and the Revealed: The Queen Esther Mosaics of Lilian Broca” here
  • Return To Byzantium website


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Mosaic Masterpieces Tour 2013 Part 1: Venice, Clauiano, Udine, Spilimbergo

Mosaic at La Scuola Mosaicisti del Friuli (Splimbergo)  Photo:  James Taylor

Mosaic at La Scuola Mosaicisti del Friuli (Splimbergo) Photo: James Turner (JT)

Can it be a month since we left Italy? Why yes, it has been a month and more. And yet, the memories are still so fresh, so alive, so inspiring.

This is the first of two articles about our mosaic-driven sojourn in Italy during the first two weeks of October. We began in Venice and then joined Julie Richey’s Mosaic Masterpieces Tour to Clauiano, Acquileia, Grado, Udine, Splimbergo and finally Ravenna for the international mosaic festival RavennaMosaico 2013.  In this article we’ll cover Venice to Spilimbergo; a second article will cover Udine, Ravenna and RavennaMosaico.


4th century mosaic at the basilica of Aquileia.

It was our experiences during the 2011 Masterpieces tour that prompted the complete overhaul of Mosaic Art NOW to what it is today. Mosaic – both ancient and modern – has so much to offer and contemporary explorers of the medium are creating beautiful, relevant art that deserves a museum-quality presence on the internet. And that’s what we set out to build. (Nudge: Click on any photo on the website for a much larger image)

This year, we arrived in Italy on October 2nd with high expectations and were not disappointed. Come along for the journey where we’ll visit with luminaries like Giulio Menossi, Paolo Racagni, Giulio Candussio, and Ilia Ilyev and discover new talented artists doing amazing things. Prepare to be inspired!  First stop, Venice.

The 2013 Venice Biennale

We had only one morning for the city-wide international art fair that is the Venice Biennale and so concentrated our time in the Giardini between the divine Encyclopedic Palace – Massimiliano Gioni’s marvelously curated collection of works devoted to the concept of “collecting” the knowledge of the world in one place – and pavilions we knew had mosaic works we wanted to see. Highlights included:

Jack Whitten 9-11-2001  2006

Abstract painter Jack Whitten‘s (b. 1939) mosaic response to witnessing the terrorist attacks in New York City from his studio was both moving and disquieting. The artist made his own tesserae incorporating paint, crushed bone, blood, glass, ash and more into clear acrylic. The primary image is that of a pyramid which could reference a the iconic Egyptian funereal monuments or perhaps the icon found on the a one dollar bill. Two large areas of chaos reign in the lower one third of the work where one finds tire tracks, foot prints, scraps of newspaper, chicken bones  – “traces of the lives that were lost that day” – and below them, at the base of the work, a small strip of tesserae made with human blood. It is an image we won’t soon forget.

Jack Whitten "9-11-2001"  2006  Photo:  Alan Punton

Jack Whitten “9-11-2001” 2006 Photo: Allan Punton (AP)

Photo:  NTMP

Photo:  NTMP

MariaLuisa Tadei at the Venetian Pavilion

We left The Encyclopedic Palace having just barely covered a small portion of the treasures within to hustle on over to two pavilions we knew we had to see.  The first was the Venetian Pavilion and the multi-work installation by Maria Luisa Tadei that we had covered earlier on MAN. The artist’s homage to Venice’s storied past as one end of the Silk Road included the spectacular walk-in sculpture Il Castello Del Sole, the mosaic San Angelo, and two exquisite small embroideries whose designs were incorporated into fabric specially woven for the exterior Il Castello as well as the ceiling and floor of the work. 

MariaLuisa Tadei   Photo:  NTMP

MariaLuisa Tadei "San Angelo"   Photo: NTMP

MariaLuisa Tadei “San Angelo”

Photo:  NTMP

Photo:  NTMP

Mohammed Banawy at the Egyptian Pavilion

Literally right next door to the Venetian Pavilion was the second “must see” on our list – Mohamad Banawy and Khaled Zaki’s Treasuries of Knowledge at the Egyptian Pavilion. Also covered previously on MAN, there were four works in this installation, two mosaics by Banawy and two sculptures by Zaki. According to Zaki, who was also the curator for the exhibit, Treasuries of Knowledge is an attempt to visualize Man’s quest for knowledge at the intersection of Nature’s infinite wisdom and what Man learns for himself as he walks – and alters – the face of Earth.

Mohamed Banaway "The Valley"  2013  150 x 500 cm  Clay, glass, wood, metal, cement

Mohamed Banaway “The Valley” 2013 150 x 500 cm Clay, glass, wood, metal, cement  Photo courtesy of the artist

Photo:  NTMP

Mohamed Banawy "The River" 2013  Photo:  NTMP

Mohamed Banawy “The River” 2013


What we hadn’t seen in previous photos of  The River was that the work included thin lines of clear filament hung in front of the mosaic.  Seen live, they added a dimension and sense of water as they captured the light. Speaking of light, we loved this quote that greeted you as you entered the Pavilion. Again, for more on this exhibit, do check out our previous post “Mosaics of the 2013 Venice Biennale: Mohamed Banawy & Khaled Zaki at the Egyptian Pavilon.”


Onward to Udine!

There was, of course much, much more that we loved at the Biennale and in Venice (what’s not to love?), but we’ll save those bits for future articles on MAN. Fast forward to Saturday, October 5th and the Venice Central Train Station where it’s time to join the rest of our merry band of 13 for the start of the Mosaic Masterpieces 2013 tour.  We’re going to make tracks to our home base in the Friuli region for the next four days – Udine


When Richey was planning this tour, she worked closely with master mosaicist and Udine native son Giulio Menossi who acted as our tour’s mentor; he and his wife Rosa met us when we arrived at the train station and accompanied us everywhere. By the time we moved on to Ravenna, we had come to think of Menossi as The Pied Piper of Udine.

Photo James Taylor (JT)

The Editor and Giulio Menossi   Photo:  JT

They came from Australia, The UK, and all points in the US, these mosaic makers, mosaic lovers and lovers of mosaic makers. Here we all are at our first feast (facetiously billed on our itinerary as a “light lunch”) at Trattoria alla Bontá in Udine. Time to introduce our Cast of Characters . . .

(l to r) Lynn Adamo OR, Suzanne Demeules MN, Carolynn Friedman IL, Bonnie Lankford TX, MAN co-founder Michael Welch MA, Lori Postma IL, Margy Cottingham WI, Nancie Mills PIpgras CA, Julie Richey TX,  James Turner, TX, (hidden) Michele McCrea AU, Sharon Weglowski IL and, behind the camera, Alan Punton UK

(l to r) Lynn Adamo OR, Suzanne Demeules MN, Carolynn Friedman IL, Bonnie Lankford TX, MAN co-founder Michael Welch MA, Lori Postma IL, Margy Cottingham WI, Nancie Mills PIpgras CA, Julie Richey TX, James Turner, TX, (hidden) Michele McCrea AU, Sharon Weglowski IL and, behind the camera, Allan Punton UK

This four course repast set the gastronomic pace for the entire trip – Eat Long and Eat Well.  This meal took two plus hours from the Prosciutto and Parmesan Crisp Start to the Apple Streudel/Fresh Pineapple with optional Gran Marnier or Grappa Finish. Mangia!

Magic in Clauiano

No sooner had we unpacked our bags at our B&B when we hit the road once again, this time in our cozy private bus for a short ride to spend the evening in “one of the most beautiful villages in Italy” – Clauiano

Photo:  James Taylor

Photo: JT

Last year, this lovely crossroads in the Friulian countryside fell in love with mosaic.  Sparked by an idea from Menossi, fueled by the members of the mosaic web site Contemporary Mosaic Art (CMA) and stoked with the energy and enthusiasm of a group of three local young people (Clauiano Mosaics & More Association), the first International Mosaics In Clauiano exhibit was hatched, launched and deemed a huge success.

Richey began planning our visit to this year’s exhibit several months ago with Maida Zerman, President of Clauiano Mosaics & More and Menossi.  The plan was that our group – which included three artists with work in the exhibit – would tour the gallery, Richey and I would make a presentation on mosaics in America to a small local audience, and the Mayor would bestow upon your Editor the honorary title of Gran Cavalieri della’Ordine de San Martino for MAN’s contribution to promoting contemporary mosaic. After that, we would all go someplace together and for a casual dinner.

All of which sounded like a plan for a lovely evening and a great way to kick off the tour. But, as would happen again and again on this journey, synchronicity and karma went to work and things just went beyond our wildest dreams.

First, there was a delay in getting things going.  No problem, Vice Mayor Remo Livoni walked us over to Foffani Winery where Elizabetta Missoni Foffani gave us a tour that included two stele designed by renowned artist and former director of Spilimbergo Giulio Candussio that yes, served as the inspiration for fabrics in the tasting room made by, of course, that Missoni.

Photo:  JT

Photo: JT


Still not ready for us at the gallery? Well then, we’ll just have to pop into the local bodega, Borgo Claudius, for a little wine and salumi tasting. All that night, there was not a door in Clauiano that wasn’t opened for us instantly. The hospitality and thoughtfulness was, well, overwhelming. This video prepared by Clauiano Mosaics & More will give you an idea of what we’re talking about.

Every single member of our tour group – whether they had a mosaic in the exhibit or not or even made mosaics for that matter – received a gift catalogue, orchids and a handshake from the Mayor, Roberto Fedele (who does look like Robert Wagner in the 60s, doesn’t he?). And that dinner? It was a five course repast of local fare prepared on the hearth of an open fireplace in the middle of our dining room. The hospitality of the tiny village of Clauiano, and in particular the efforts of Maida Zerman, Marcello Nobile and Matteo Pizzutti, was astonishing and humbling for us all.  Some photos.

Margy Cottingham "Show Me the Way" 2013 39x39 cm

Margy Cottingham “Show Me the Way” 2013 39×39 cm   Photo: JT

Lynn Adamo "San Sebastian" 2013 30x30 cm.

Lynn Adamo “San Sebastian” 2013 30×30 cm.

Julie Richey "Disco Inferno" 2012 (with embellishment)

Julie Richey “Disco Inferno” 2012 (with embellishment)

Photo:  JT

Photo: JT

Clauiano Feast  Photo:  JT

Clauiano Feast    Photo: JT

Photo:  AP

Photo: AP

Like we said before – magic. Our evening in Clauiano is an experience that none of us will ever forget. By the time we got on the bus for our moonlit drive back to Udine, we were all in love with Friuli.


Once called “The Second Rome”, Aquileia is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site as “the most complete example of an early Roman city in the Mediterranean world.” We were there primarily to explore the mosaics of the city’s basilica which, like many religious sites in Italy, went through a number of iterations that chronicle the progression of the Christian faith in Europe.  Giulio Menossi has been studying the mosaics of the basilica since childhood and we were lucky to have him as our guide.

The basilica is best known for the 4th century mosaics found inn the main part of the building – the largest mosaic floor in Europe – which were revealed in a reconstruction effort in 1909. Imagine chipping away at a clay floor and discovering this . . .


Here is the tale of the prophet Jonah, a sea scene with twelve fishermen representing the apostles, portraits of donors and local dignitaries, scenes from the Gospels, beasties and beauties and exquisite geometric patterns holding it all together.





Far more interesting to us were the mosaics to be found in what is called The Crypt of the Excavations which lies below the main basilica – the 3rd century Gnostic Mosaics.

Aquileia10Giulio Menossi has been studying these fascinating mosaics for years and his appreciation and passion for them was evident as he made observations and passed them on to Richey to translate for us.  (Side note: Richey’s fluency in Italian, art history education and mosaic expertise were invaluable as we met with artists along the tour.)

The Gnostics believed that man’s soul was on a journey through the cosmos from the darkness of the Earth to the light of God; that answers to spiritual questions were to be found within, not without.  These mosaics represent that journey through a series of levels each of which had a specific time frame (the first level was believed to take 150 years and 8 months) and a specific guide which was often represented by an animal affiliated with a sign of the Zodiac.

(these) mosaics, done largely in the 3rd century, represent the ascent of the soul, through the realm of the planets and constellations, to God, who is represented as a ram. (The ram, at the head of the zodiac, is the Gnostic generative force.) Libra is not the scales, but rather a battle between good (the rooster) and evil (the tortoise); the constellation Cancer is represented as a shrimp on a tree. The basis for the representation in Aquileia is the Pistis Sophia, a 2nd-century Gnostic tract written in Alexandria. – Fodor’s


The Gnostics divided the animal kingdom between Good and Bad based on how their bodies touched the earth. Animals with hooves were Good; those with paws were Bad.


Menossi explained that the mosaic below of snails in a basket was representative of man’s journey out of the darkness (shell) and into the light. Aquileia6


It is a great shame that when it was decided to add a campanile to the basilica complex, its base was plunked down right on top of the Gynostic Cycle and much of the content has been lost.

Photo:  JT

Photo: JT

Menossi told us that the meaning of these mosaics has only very recently been fully realized.  By chance, a local historian familiar with the mosaics, Renato Jacumin, met a Gnostic scholar named Luigi Moraldi.  Moraldi has just translated the Pistis Sophia, a 2nd century Gnostic text, into Italian. In Moraldi’s translation, Jacumin was astonished to discover precise written descriptions of the mosaics he had been studying for years. During our tour, Menossi carried a much-treasured copy of Jacumin’s book on the mosaics The Doors of Salvation which, sadly, is no longer in print.


La Scuola Mosaicisti del Friuli – The Mosaic School of Friuli – often called Spilimbergo  – is one of the Meccas of contemporary mosaic. Since it opened its doors in 1922, Spilimbergo has set the world standard for mosaic training and innovation. We were thrilled at the opportunity to walk the halls of a place that has trained some of today’s most innovative and thoughtful mosaic artists.


This photo is a wonderful representation of Spilimbergo’s past and present. On the floor are examples of the traditional mosaic style that characterizes the school’s beginnings with the barrier-blasting  mosaic style introduced in the 1990’s by Giulio Candussio and the contemporary artists he brought into the school to have their works translated into mosaic.


Spilimbergo teacher and friend of MAN Carolina Zanelli (in the pink scarf above) was our tour guide while on break from a class and took us into several classrooms.



Simple, no? No.

Photo:  JT

Photo: JT

The three year course of study at Spilimbergo is rigorous and strict. The goal is to teach the student all of the rules and possibilities of mosaic so that when he/she graduates, they are best able to offer various interpretations of the designs/cartoons that someone else has produced that they have been hired to fabricate. Only at the end of the third year is the student allowed to design their own mosaic and even then, all students work within the guidelines of a very specific project – the head of Christ, for instance.

So, we walked the halls, dazzled by mosaics ranging from reproductions of the pebble mosaics of Greece to works using every possible material in extraordinary and inspiring ways. A few photos  . . .





Spilimbergo orb Spilimbergowires1 spilimbergowires2Spilimbergocdachshund spilimbergodachsdetail

Spilimbergojazzman Spilimbergojazzmandetail


Photo:  AP

Photo: AP


Photo:  AP

Photo: AP

Photo:  AP

Photo: AP

Photo JT

Photo JT

Photo:  AP

Photo: AP

We were all on sensory overload by the time we left the school and like the students below lounging on “the quad”, we were ready for lunch.

Photo:  AP

Photo: AP

Al Bachero is a favorite with students and faculty of the school and we were happy to run into Miriam Bastisch, a fellow mosaic blogger who has just started studying at Spilimbergo this year.  Also “in the house” was the wonderful mosaic group Mosaizm – all graduates of Spilimbergo who were also on their way to the festival in Ravenna.

Photo: AP

Photo: AP

Remember that synchronicity and karma we talked about earlier? Well, it kicked into high gear at Al Bachero. Carolina Zanelli introduced us to Giulio Candussio who just happened to be having lunch with Mosaizm. It was an incredible moment for us; we have been great fans of Candussio’s art and have utmost respect for what he accomplished at Spilimbergo during his term as its Director.

There also is a very American connection with Candussio. In response to the 2001 attack on the World Trade Center, Candussio designed an 118 x 13 foot mosaic entitled Iridescent Lightning which was fabricated by the students of Spilimbergo and installed at the rebuilt PATH station at Ground Zero in 2003. The mosaic is meant to portray “the energy and continuity of life.”

mosaicisti-friuli-4Candussio was very gracious and quickly invited our whole group to visit him in his studio later that day. That two and a half hours was to be one of the highlights of the tour. The artist talked about his career, his decision to go back to revisit and complete projects that he had begun as a young man, and where he sees mosaic going in the future. At one point, he took us through a book of pen and ink sketches that he uses to develop an idea from concept to design to making; it was an opportunity to walk into the mind of a great artist – a very great privilege.


Julie Richey, Giulio Candussio, Nancie Mills Pipgras

So ends our first article about our 2013 mystical, magical, mosaical tour in Italy. Subsequent articles will cover studio visits in Udine and then on to Ravenna for the festival. We do hope you are enjoying the trip! Many thanks to James Turner (JT) and Allan Punton (AP) for contributing photos to this article.



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“Signals From the Limit”: Andrej Koruza at RavennaMosaico 2013

On 14, Nov 2013 | 2 Comments | In Art, Artists, Home Spotlight Articles | By Nancie

By far one of the most interesting and thought-provoking works at RavennaMosaico 2013 was Andrej Koruza’s “Signals From the Limit”.  Just watch.

The work was mesmerizing and we spent a good half an hour experiencing and exploring it. We had many questions for the artist and luckily, most of them were answered in an interview by Friend of MAN and Ravenna Art blogger Luca Maggio.  Andrej Koruza is as fascinating as his “Signals” – exploring the “limits” of mosaic to characterize what he sees as social phenomena. “I am convinced that some mosaics and some mosaic artists – those who dare to (re)search, not find, and to be radical – can change the world.”  Enjoy the interview and thank you, Luca Maggio – Nancie

Luca Maggio:  Andrej Koruza (Koper , Slovenia, 1982), I know that you attended the Mosaic School of Friuli (Spilimbergo), but where did your desire to use mosaic in the 21st century come from?

There have been various stages and many people who have contributed in the development of my real need to make mosaic. If we talk about the School of Mosaic, then I must mention Giuseppe Semeraro , my master mosaic for the third year , who gave me an immense passion and made ​​me realize that the mosaic can be whatever I want it to be: technical, crafts, art.   From there I began to doubt everything I was taught about mosaic. I think that questioning is even now one of the things that defines me and makes me analyze things thoroughly .

Andrej Koruza "Tessera e Fuga #1" 2008  50 x 50 cm. Painted marble and mortar

Andrej Koruza “Tessera e Fuga #1” 2008 50 x 50 cm. Painted marble and mortar

My interest in mosaic as an art form has always gone hand in hand with the interests of society and the phenomena that occur in it. I spent every Friday in the course of my last year at the Mosaic School of Friuli attending the classes on philosophy and psychoanalysis at the Faculty of Humanities in Koper, Slovenia.  After these classes, I spent hours and hours talking about mosaic, philosophy, art, and cinema with a couple of friends philosophers and anthropologists – Matej Vatovec and Tomaž Gregorc – who have contributed greatly to the refinement of critical thinking in me, which subsequently took shape in my mosaics.

Andrej Koruza "Tessera e fuga #5"  2008 50x50 cm. Painted marble and mortar.

Andrej Koruza “Tessera e fuga #5” 2008 50×50 cm. Painted marble and mortar.

The consequence of all this rethinking on mosaic was my first series of mosaics called Tessera and escape, which were made in Colombia in 2009.  I feel like they are like a manifesto, rules that force me when I make mosaic. I think it was during that period that I realized the potential of mosaic; at that particular moment in history all of the great systems (political, economic, social)  were crushed. The individual started facing Capitalism, which has slowly subdued both the political and the social system, exploiting the individual in order to derive more profit – the only remaining hope for the individual is a new form of collective consciousness, that will bring with it the formation of new, more just, harmonious and livable communities. From this perspective, I believe that the roles of both mosaic and a mosaic artist are very important since they have the ability to represent new forms of relationships between individuals, between an individual and a group, and also among groups.

Andrej Koruza "Tessera e fuga" 2009 100 x 100 cm Painted marble and mortar.
Andrej Koruza “Tessera e fuga” 2009 100 x 100 cm Painted marble and mortar.

I am convinced that some mosaics and some mosaic artists – those who dare to (re)search, not find, and to be radical – can change the world. So, it bothers me when I see mosaic competitions with juries full of people who have to defend their visions of mosaic or people unfit to understand the world in which the young mosaic artists live.  (I have also met a few wonderful exceptions but they are in the minority.)

On the other hand, those who will change the world will not be stopped by mosaic juries. For me, the mosaic is a living language as the language we speak is alive and there are no rules dictated by tradition that can define it. For my part, I can appreciate only mosaics and mosaic artists in their work that help to define and show what is or may be mosaic, showing what until now was not. Among the people who contribute the most to this, and that have had the greatest impact on me and my mosaics are  CaCO3, Samantha Holmes, Jo Braun, Marco de Luca and Felice Nittolo. And also Daniel Torcellini and Luca Maggio who contribute to the culture of contemporary mosaic as authors of critical texts.

Andrej Koruza "Signals From the Limit" 2013 170x400x40 cm.

Andrej Koruza “Signals From the Limit” 2013 170x400x40 cm.

LM:  The white and gray metal, the purity of the wood  – even when you build your very intricate machines and mosaics, always there is a sense of motion or “escape ” in many of your works. The photo below portrays many of the components from your last formidable and hypnotic installation “Signals From the Limit”, including you, with your body, as one of the gears that drives the work. I ask you to continue to talk about your idea of ​​mosaic and in particular of “Signals From the Limit”.

andrej koruza

I look at the mosaic as a science; a science of relationships between tiles, particles, elements, entities, etc. and, as such, I find it very interesting, because I understand it as a tool of analysis of most of the phenomena that happen on this planet.  Almost every phenomenon can be divided into smaller parts that can be analyzed.

Signals From the Limit started as I watched the growth of the uprisings in North Africa, the so-called “Arab Spring”.  I was fascinated by this revolutionary spirit that now, with the help of technology, has led to radical changes in their region, whether for better or worse cannot be said yet.

"Signals From The Limit" Detail, back.

“Signals From The Limit” Detail, back.

I thought in Europe and especially in Slovenia, people will never be able to find some common ground, and regroup to demand and cause change, but it happened, almost inexplicably. A sequence of events led to major protests and subsequent changes, but they were not radical because the protests haven’t continued. In short, on the one hand the idea for the mosaic aprang from this alternation of social order and disorder, and on the other from an interest in the role of technology in contemporary art and mosaic.

To tell the truth I was disappointed by most of the things I saw related to technology and art, especially interactive . From there, the decision to try to do something with the help of Borut Jerman and KID PINA we received funding from the Slovenian Ministry of Culture and after 6 months, with the collaboration of Borut Perko (who was in charge of circuits and sensors), I finished the mosaic. Signals From the Limit is my first attempt at doing this and if I look at it now I ‘m satisfied. I especially like its form; the mechanism behind the mosaic becomes an integral part of the mosaic, the mosaic is not only the tessera placed on the canvas, but also what stands behind it – the mechanism, technology.  I believe that the mosaic should critically reconnect to the period in which we live and Signals From the Limit is definitely an attempt at this link.

I hope I succeeded , and all the attention it received positive feedback to RavennaMosaico surprised me and motivated, so I will continue even stronger .

"Signals From the Limit" Back

“Signals From the Limit” Back

LM:  What is GRUPA and what is your participation in it? Finally, will there be new shows, new machines? Are there future projects you would like to talk about?

GRUPA is a group of architects, designers and craftsmen working in the field of social innovation, social projects and volunteering.  Our goal at the beginning (three years ago) was to help establish a new type of entrepreneurship in Slovenia – a social one. One of the first opportunities we identified was working with the CPU (the ReUse Center) with whom we began a collaboration. The CPU is a landfill, where objects that can be reused, such as furniture, cutlery, appliances, etc. are separated from other waste, adjusted, arranged and then sold at low prices. GRUPA tried to create an integrated cyclic system for CPU, so there would be no trash anymore.

Another very interesting and important project which we worked is Dela Gostilna where young people from difficult environments are taught the craft of waiter and assistant cook and, in the end, they are offered to work in the restaurant opened within the project. GRUPAs role was to do the architecture, interior design, the production of the interiors and all the graphic design for the restaurant. Our aim was therefore to create a bond between the community and the restaurant before its official opening, a goal that we achieved by organizing events called Delavnica za malico. During these events, people helped us to collect information about the type of restaurant they wanted in the neighborhood and what dishes they wanted to eat.  By doing so we have achieved a great impact in the media before the restaurant was open and after the opening was full from the first day onwards.

Andrej Koruza "Slovenia Structured #1" 2011  67x100 cm

Andrej Koruza “Slovenia Structured #1” 2011 67×100 cm

Within GRUPA, I took care of the development of the projects in collaboration with Nina Mršnik and Gaja Mežnarič Osole, and also the production of objects that were used in those projects (like the furniture used in Gostilna Dela). GRUPAs activities are currently on hold, but our workshop/studio is working independently now, under the name DELAVNICA. It is a laboratory for the design and production of wooden furniture and objects where I work with Matej Rodela. We are developing our first series of objects and there is a nice atmosphere in the studio. I love working there because I’m challenged with practical problems all of the time: it keeps the mind in constant exercise and, since we are continually producing objects, it also helps me to rid myself of the fear of not being able to produce art, as it has already happened in the past, when I was questioning my abilities.

Andrej_Koruza-Slovenia-Structured_#1-67x100cm-2011 3

Now I am mature enough to confront every project I take on and am not afraid of either losing or winning. I want to take risks and to be radical. I want to tread on the edges of mosaic and try to define it, understand it and improve it, always. I’m not afraid to make mistakes, to go beyond its limits, because I am convinced that even passing its limits, we can still define and understand mosaic much better than when we are not even trying to reach them. This is why I find the work 80mesh – The shape of sound by CaCO3, and also some mosaics by Samantha Holmes and Jo Braun to be the most important works of contemporary mosaic in recent years, works that I consider to be genuine works of contemporary art.

As for me, I am pleased because Signals From the Limit will be exhibited along with the work of Karina Smigla – Bobinski: ADA from 27 November to 12 December at the Festival of Transitory Art – Sonica 2013.

I also have several mosaic projects in the testing phase, which I hope to produce in 2014. The project I currently regard to be of the utmost importance is a performance, where mosaic and dance will come together in an interaction between dancers and an installation – mosaic. The project is in the process of planning and research funds are necessary for its production – therefore producers, benefactors, patrons, millionaires… come forward!





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Japan’s 2013 Mosaic Biennale: A Report from Toyoharu Kii

Hisao Matsuo "Don't Tell What Was Seen In The Woods" 24 x 35"

Hisao Matsuo “Don’t Tell What Was Seen In The Woods” 24 x 35 in.

While we were at the SAMA conference this past spring, we had the opportunity to sit down for a long chat with the well known Japanese mosaic artist Toyoharu Kii who is also a leader in his country’s mosaic community. We both agreed that it was high time for better, stronger, more timely communications between the Eastern and Western mosaic worlds. We are excited, therefore, to publish this article by Toyoharu featuring award-winners from this year’s biennale mounted by the Mosaic Art Association in Japan. Here’s hoping for a continued lively exchange of ideas and innovation here on MAN. Enjoy – Nancie

We are happy to share these mosaic works shown at Mosaic Biennale 2013 hosted by the Mosaic Art Association in Japan (MAAJ) this past September 9th through 15th at the Yokohama Civic Gallery in Azamino, Japan. Founded in 1995, MAAJ has been hosting the Biennale since 2007 and it has become an important and valuable place for mosaic lovers to present their work to the public. Both members and non-members are encouraged to submit works. This year’s exhibition was juried by five people including Motohiro Hashimura, a veteran mosaicist, and myself.

In the prize-winning works presented here, you may notice some aspects that are common to all of them. First, marble is highly used. Second, many of the tesserae are square. Third, the grout lines are uniform. Finally, the surfaces are flat. These points indicate that Japanese mosaic artists are not yet free from their longing for Roman mosaics. This is because the information on mosaic trends and innovations from overseas is still not easy for us to obtain.

Since Japan is not physically close to Europe, we do not have the chance to see modern, energetic mosaics in person. Moreover, mosaic news is usually conveyed in English, French or Italian and so there is a language barrier which makes the situation worse. Even with these obstacles, we expect to see more vital works at MAAJ’s future exhibitions which we hope to mount on an annual basis beginning next year.

Grand Prize: Junkichi Miyauchi, Quattro Stagioni

Junkichi Miyauchi "Quattro Stagoni" 4 20 x 20" panels

Junkichi Miyauchi “Quattro Stagoni” 20 x 20 in. polyptych

This artist started making mosaics in the 1960s and is one of the pioneers in Japan’s mosaic community. He has departed from the Roman classic mosaic aesthetic but has continued to use basically square tesserae. Miyauchi’s unique characteristic exists in how he carefully shapes his tesserae to have small, rough expressions as if the tesserae had broken up naturally even though they have been cut very purposefully. We very much appreciated the lyrical expression throughout these works.

Second Prize: Nobue Ozaki Flower Goat & Osmunda Bird

Nobue Ozaki  "Flower Goat & Osmunda Bird" 39 x 24" diptych

Nobue Ozaki “Flower Goat & Osmundu Bird” 39 x 24 in. diptych

Nobue Ozaki uses tesserae in the traditional way but we found a great sense of fun in the forms of her panels and the motifs she used. Most of the works in this year’s exhibition were serious and only a few came from playful minds. In that context, we chose her work.

Third Prize: Hisao Matsuo Don’t Tell What Was Seen in Woods

Hisao Matsuo "Don't Tell What Was Seen In The Woods" 24 x 35"

Hisao Matsuo “Don’t Tell What Was Seen In The Woods” 24 x 35 in.

0.1 inch square marble tesserae are placed densely. We considered that the cumulation of the tesserae in this work is more than that of the mere stone materials that were used to make it and it is like it has been transformed into the image itself. The artist has achieved a highly elaborate expression and so he was awarded a prize.

Honorable Mention: Toshimi Mori AMBIVALENCE 1309

Toshimi Mori "AMBIVALENCE 1309"  71 x 71"

Toshimi Mori “AMBIVALENCE 1309” 71 x 71 in.

We valued the artist’s experimental attitude using also untraditional materials such as metal plates, woods and etc. not only the traditional ones. We hope other artists also will go beyond their existing standards, trying various ways of expression.

Encouraging Prize: Yoshimi Aizawa Following My Memories of Mt. ASO

Yoshimi Aizawa "Following My Memories of Mt. ASO"  32 x 40 in.

Yoshimi Aizawa “Following My Memories of Mt. ASO” 32 x 40 in.

This artist has ongoing poor sight and has difficulties in seeing the weak light. She built an image of a mountain scenery with her friend giving her the description of it on the mountain. We can feel her desire by any means to embody and express the things she can see. Also the materials are elaborately selected and made.

Encouraging Work: Kayoko Nakai The Bird Remembers His Life, 44″ H x 44″ W.


We see that this artist is still acquiring skills in working with tile, but appreciate her obvious will to devise new ways to work with this material as well as her sense of freedom and fun.

Encouraging Prize: Yumi Yamada Ring of Flowers

She has just graduated from university. She experienced mosaic at a workshop in the school and was fascinated began to make by herself. We wanted support her.

Juror’s Work: Motohiro Hashimura The Wind in the Sky

Motohiro Hashimura "The Wind In The Sky" 51 x 47 in.

Motohiro Hashimura “The Wind In The Sky” 51 x 47 in.

This the maquette of a much larger public work. It has “spreadingness”and is refreshing.

Juror’s Work: Toyoharu Kii, On the Way of Walking

Toyohaur Kii "On The Way Of Walking" 20 x 28 in.

Toyoharu Kii “On The Way Of Walking” 20 x 28 in.

This is my work. Italian marble called Perlino is used. I fear that it was made somewhat too compact and modest. I need more vigorous and wild tesserae.

We beg to differ with Toyoharu about the quality of this work which we see as another wonderful example of his mastery of positive and negative space, rhythm, texture and pattern. Many thanks to the artist for this article, his photographs, and the continued inspiration he provides to artists worldwide.

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Contemporary Mosaic Flourishes in Florence: Musiwa 2013

FlagsThis summer, a new mosaic tradition was born in Florence with the first edition of Musiwa, an international exhibition featuring works from some of the medium’s most important and revered artists in order to . . .

. . . create a huge, unusual opportunity to gather many renowned artists in one place for a universal meeting where there could be an open exchange of emotions and ideas  brought on by magnificent mosaic works.

Fabrizio_Petri _Musiwa

Fabrizio Petri

Mosaic art was spread out all over Florence with installations at the Impruneta’s Contemporary Art Center, the Town Hall of Pontassieve, the Hall of Heroines at the Borgo di Pontassieve and the Ancient Hospital in S. Antonio. Musiwa culminated with an exhibition of “finalists” chosen by a committee at the historic Guelph Palace that ran from June 15 through July 16th.

Paolo Racagni

Paolo Racagni

Beyond the city-wide presentation of mosaic, Musiwa is also noteworthy for its origins – a joint venture between WART (WorldArtist – Art, Culture & People), Florence’s prestigious jewelry school, Perseo, AGT (Accademia Giardini del Tempo) and AIMC (International Association for Contemporary Mosaic).  Enthusiasm during the organizational phase proved to be contagious and the event quickly won the support of the communes of Firenze, Pontassieve, Lastra a Signa and Impruneta.

Rosanna Fattorinni, Massimo Campaioli, Francesco Chimienti and Nikos Tolis, President of AIMC

Rosanna Fattorinni, Massimo Campaioli, Francesco Chimienti and Nikos Tolis, President of AIMC

So, who was behind this? Musiwa’s Artistic Director and President and the mastermind behind the event is Maestro Francesco Chimienti, the founder and current president of WART. An artist himself, Chimento has a great love for mosaic and was a co-signer of the “Being Mosaic Foundation Manifesto” with Giulio Candussio.  Other key players included Musiwa’s Vice-President, Maestro Massimo Campaioli, who is also the founder/president of PERSEO and Florence’s Ambassador of Jewelry to the World and Rosanna Fattorini, an accomplished mosaic artist and Vice-President of AIMC.

Rosanna Fattorini

Rosanna Fattorini

Technical advisors who aided in the selection of works included Professor of Art Drawing and History Gianni Becciani, mosaic restoration expert Dr. Clarice Innocenti, the Pallazo Pitti Museum’s Director of Silver Materials Dr. Maria Sframeli and well-known painter Maestro Alberto Gallingani.

Nane Zavagno

Nane Zavagno

While Musiwa was not a competition, two artists, Nane Zavagno and Toyoharu Kii received special prizes “for the outstanding quality of their work” and mosaic artist, educator and innovator Giulio Candussio received a special award “for his magnificent cultural personality as well as for the scientific proposal ‘Being Mosaic Foundation Manifesto’.”

Toyoharu Kii

Toyoharu Kii

Within the group of 40+ mosaic artists who were part of MUSIWA there were many familiar names – De Luca, Menossi, Iliev, Goodwin, Cicognani, Louro do Rego, and Magdi among them. There were also artists new to us whose works feel fresh and exciting.

Dino Maccini

Dino Maccini

Iliya Iliev

Iliya Iliev

Marwa Qendeel

Marwa Qendeel

Sonia Louro do Rego

Sonia Louro do Rego

Luciano Petris

Luciano Petris

Elaine M. Goodwin

Elaine M. Goodwin

Marco de Luca

Marco de Luca

Giulio Menossi

Musiwa’s organizers are already expanding the reach of the program and preparing for next year.

Given the positive and enthusiastic results of Musiwa 2013, the Musiwa project will be turned into a foundation very soon. With international partners such as Florence, its Province, the Precious Stones Factory and other prestigious associations, there will be continued in-depth exhibitions and thematic meetings based on the mosaic art form in many new venues that will reach into schools, museums, art galleries and the media. The official headquarters of Musiwa 2014 will once again be Florence and the event is scheduled for June – August 2014. 

A list of all the participating artists is below.  Our thanks to Musiwa’s organizers for sending along to MAN all of this information and wonderful photographs.  Bravo!

Enjoy – Nancie

Poster_Musiwa 2



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