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Ravenna Mosaico, 2015

Friday, 6 October 2017 16:26:32 Europe/London


la Porziuncola - Mosaic installation by Felice Nittolo in Basilica San Giovanni Evangelista (Ravenna Mosaico, 2015)

Ravenna Mosaico, 2015

Many of you will already know Ravenna, Italy is home to many exquisite, ancient mosaic artworks. Referred to as the capital city of mosaics, Ravenna is also the site of an annual international mosaic festival Ravenna Mosaico. Currently in progress, this year the festival runs from October 10th to November 8th. The whole city, along with the International Association of Contemporary Mosaicists (AIMC) unites to celebrate the mosaic art form both past and present. Artists from around the world participate in numerous exhibitions hosted by galleries, museums and local businesses in traditional and non-traditional settings throughout Ravenna. Cafes, restaurants, art schools, private artist’s studios, storefronts and community spaces all join forces in a gigantic celebration of the mosaic art form.


Photo Collage courtesy of Petar Milosevic

This year’s festival programme is full of exhibitions, meetings and events. Some workshops are designed for the many professional artists who attend the festival while others allow families, adult hobbyists and children to explore the beauty of mosaic art making with professional instruction.

Read on to learn a bit more about specific exhibitions that are part of Ravenna Mosaica 2015. We are featuring here, only a few of the many fine exhibits to be viewed throughout the city over the next few weeks.

Works From Around the World

This year the Municipality of Ravenna, along with AIMC is hosting, Works From Around the World, an exhibition focusing on the exciting work of mosaic artists from around the world. A grouping of over 40 mosaic artworks will be displayed including artists from Italy, France, Germany, Lithuania, Norway, Egypt, Russia and Japan as well as a number of Israeli AIMC artists. Two artworks from this exhibition are featured below:


  Monika Capol - La donna di Samburu (78x65x4)       Bogdanova – Piccione (63x55x32)

Social Sofa

Recently we’ve featured blog articles about mosaic art in public places and focused on how well the mosaic art form lends itself to group oriented projects. We are particularly drawn to the Social Sofa exhibit at this year’s festival which exemplifies the possibilities, benefits and growth this type of group endeavour can offer the project participants. The exhibit comes to Ravenna from a small Dutch community (based in Tilburg) and features a group of sofas created by community members dealing with unemployment and various disadvantages. Professional mosaic artists provided guidance to the group who took inspiration from a number of different internationally renowned artists including Vincent van Gogh and contemporary fashion designer, Paul Smith. The end result; a series of mosaicked sofas that once installed transform the neighborhood into an extension of all the private living rooms throughout the community.

Social Sofa, located at the Ravenna Art Museum (MAR), in the Palazzo Rasponi dalle Teste (courtyard)


Inside the Church of San Giovanni Evangelista, the oldest basilica in Ravenna, festival visitors will encounter the installation of mosaic artist and sculptor, Felice Nittolo (pictured at the beginning of this article). The artist has placed three spheres inside the presbytery and has also created a separate sculptural presentation of the chapel itself. The chapel was added to the larger basilica in 1500 creating a church within a church. Two wooden beams pierce the artist’s representational structure symbolizing strife within the church. 

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Comments | Posted in The history of Mosaics By Thomas Arribehaute

Mosaic Art in Public Spaces

Friday, 6 October 2017 16:18:55 Europe/London

Mosaic Art in Public Spaces

The mosaic art form lends itself well to the public domain. From monumental sculptural installations to finely detailed smaller works that adorn window sills and decorate plazas; the durability of mosaic materials make this art form a common choice for artworks that are installed in public spaces. Mosaics have stood the test of time as witnessed in the famous Bibi Xanum Mosque in Samarkand, Uzbekistan.

Clearly mosaic patterning has been employed here to enhance the beauty of this sacred building. In Uzbekistan the mosaic panelling of buildings is a historical tradition that has carried forward through time and is still evident in contemporary architecture.

When an earthquake struck the Uzbek city of Tashkent in 1966, many buildings were destroyed. A massive rebuilding of the city followed and new mosaic panelling was commissioned. Artists were employed to depict Uzbek cultural themes as well as Russian political ideology; a reflection of the times, the place and the individual creators themselves. The new Tashkent rose from the rubble of the old and the public art commissioned during the renewal has created a snapshot of the era.

Teams of construction workers from all over the Soviet Union were called in to participate. The buildings that resulted often reflected the interests and origins of the workers/artists assigned to the task. Now Russian cosmonauts float on the sides of buildings and Ukrainian text occasionally can be found on housing walls!

All public art eventually becomes part of the community’s history. Many different segments of a society are involved in the process of bringing a single work of public art into reality, no matter the location. Community organizations, private and public funding agencies, local businesses, neighbourhood residents and artists are all involved in the process of commissioning art for public spaces.

The work chosen for a specific site may reflect the values a community holds dear. The plaque below sits along-side a staircase of 163 steps in the Golden Gates Neighbourhood of San Francisco in California. Many of the tiled pieces used on the risers of these steps were made by members of the community under the direction of two mosaic artists, Colette Crutcher and Aileen Barr. You can view pictures of the completed project here.

Landscapes are often transformed when artwork makes a public appearance. Australian artist, Deborah Halpern, uses a palette of vibrant colours when designing the whimsical giants that have become landmarks in the communities where they are installed. Perhaps most notable is the sculpture titled, Angel. She lists Picasso as one of her inspirational influences and his surreal influences are readily seen in this ambitious creature, which towers 10 metres above the ground, where it now sits on the Yarra Riverbank in Melbourne.

Suggested attribution: Photo courtesy of Melburnian via Wikimedia Commons

Halpern’s work is loved by both children and adults. Another of her commissioned sculptures, Power of Community, stands solidly ensconced in Beauty Park, Frankston. It depicts a family, arms linked and smiling; a whimsical reflection of the people who frequent the location.

Suggested attribution: Photo courtesy of AshGreen via Wikimedia Commons

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Comments | Posted in The history of Mosaics By Thomas Arribehaute

The Vatican Mosaics: Paintings for Eternity

Friday, 6 October 2017 16:18:03 Europe/London

If you’ve been lucky enough to visit Vatican City then you know that intricate and beautiful mosaics cover many of the floors and hallways as well as adorning walls and ceilings everywhere. They are a sight to behold and truly inspiring. Most would agree that the mosaics of St. Peter’s Basilica are particularly stunning.

Photo courtesy of Arpingstone via Wikimedia Commons

St. Peter’s Basilica

The very first mosaics arrived and were installed at the Vatican in St. Peter’s at the end of the 16th century. In 326 AD the first St. Peter’s Basilica was consecrated.  It was located over the spot where the martyred St. Peter was buried in 64 AD.  Eventually a new Basilica was built to replace the original and was consecrated 1300 years later.

The interior of the spectacular St. Peter’s Basilica is lavishly decorated with well over 28,000 mosaic pieces on view. Many of these mosaics are replicas of paintings that once adorned the walls. Over time the paintings have been damaged by mold due to uncontrolled humidity levels inside the church.  Many believe that, “mosaics are paintings for eternity” because they are not easily damaged and will stand the test of time.

The Mosaic Studio of the Vatican

So, in keeping with this belief, the work of preserving, restoring and replicating the famous mosaics of St. Peter’s Basilica continues in a small studio located next to the church, inside the Hospice of Santa Marsa. 

This modest studio is the site where all of the mosaics of the Vatican are created. Here, about a dozen mosaic artists and restorers work on repairing older mosaics, creating new works and also making reproductions of the more famous artworks in the Vatican collection. Some of these reproductions are given as gifts to heads of state by the Pope and others are available for purchase by collectors. There’s a gift shop right next to the workshop where Vatican visitors can purchase already completed mosaics … but you’d better come prepared to spend more than a few dollars. These mosaic artworks can command prices that range from $3,000 – $300,000 EU!

To learn more about the Vatican Mosaic Studio watch this video from Rome Reports:


Vatican Floor mosaics

Inside Vatican City beauty lies underfoot as well as on soaring ceilings and on cathedral walls. The floors of the Vatican are often intricately detailed and have their own stories to tell. Pictured below are two pavement mosaics; one from the Sala a Croce Greca (the Greek Cross Gallery) and the other in Sala Degli Animali (the Animal Gallery). These are just two of the museums established with the Vatican City to house the extensive Papal collections of art and cultural artifacts. Typically, the museum floors are decorated with mosaic pavements that reflect the artifacts housed within the individual museums.

Pavement mosaic in the Sala a croce greca

photo courtesy of Manfred Heyde via Wikimedia Commons

pavement mosaic in Sala Degli Animali

Photo courtesy of Dguendel via Wikimedia Commons

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Comments | Posted in The history of Mosaics By Thomas Arribehaute

A Brief History Of Mosaics

Friday, 6 October 2017 15:55:05 Europe/London

Here at Hobby Island Mosaics we’re passionate about the craft of mosaic art. It isn’t a recent phenomenon and we want everyone to appreciate this art form and where it came from, so we thought we’d spark some interest by giving you a brief overview of the history of mosaics…

What is a mosaic?

A mosaic is an image created by assembling small pieces of glass, ceramic, stone or other materials to form a picture, with these tesserae (or more commonly known as mosaic tiles) usually being roughly square in shape and coming in a whole range of colours to suit specific designs. A mosaic might be used in interior design schemes, it might have cultural significance or it could simply be a piece of decorative art in its own right, with patterns being as intricate and varied as you can imagine.

The origin of mosaics

Mosaics are thought to go back some 4,000 years or more, with the earliest known examples being Chinese. These carefully-arranged pebble mosaics were used mainly as pavements, being relatively unstructured in design despite the use of different coloured stones, whilst the Sumerians pushed terracotta cone-shaped rods into walls and pillars to create geometric patterns. Meanwhile, in Aztec culture, ceremonial objects and masks were adorned with precious stones, but it wasn’t until around the fourth century BC when the Greeks raised the humble mosaic into an art form.

Mosaic designs became more and more intricate over the next few centuries with precise geometric patterns being created as well as highly detailed scenes of animals and people—stone tesserae became specifically manufactured with some pieces being just a few millimetres in size, meaning mosaics now had the ability to resemble intricate paintings. The Romans took this one step further with their mosaics being built into pavements, walls and even ceilings, with images of their gods, war depictions and scenes from everyday life as well as complex geometric patterns being commonplace. Techniques became refined and tesserae more varied, with them now being produced from pottery, terracotta, glass and even gold.

Mosaic as a craft

Mosaics have been popular in decoration and architecture ever since, but it’s only relatively recently that this art form has turned into a crafting activity. These days anyone can have a go at creating a mosaic with everything from marble mosaic tiles to stunning iridescent tiles being available, offering far more than the traditional stone options of centuries gone by, and you can create anything from a piece of jewellery to a mirror surround depending on your preferences. If you want to get in on the action all you’ll need is a suitable mosaic tile shop (such as us) to supply you with your materials and you’re good to go, so what are you waiting for? Mosaics have an incredibly rich history and there’s a reason they’ve stood the test of time, so make sure to take a look around for a few supplies and you could have a go at this most historic of art forms for yourself.

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Comments | Posted in The history of Mosaics By Thomas Arribehaute
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