Studying Mosaic and being part of its Renaissance

One of the intriguing consequences of being in the first cohort of students to take a diploma/degree in Mosaic Studies will be when you graduate you will be at the forefront of knowledge about the subject.

Although I generally disagree with Hobbes the 17th century philosopher and writer of Leviathan, on this point and in terms of our mosaic programme, he was right (I paraphrase) when he suggested the new generation are more knowledgeable than their elders, because they learn from their parents’ generation and then share and add their own experience as well.

In a too-long neglected subject such as Mosaic Studies, this distance between received wisdom and its potential efflorescence is immense. 

Students taking Mosaic Studies are likely to be thought leaders and practitioners in the renaissance of an art form, whose name from the Greek means “muse of art”. Mosaic making originated in ancient times and then peaked in medieval culture, from the Byzantines through the Umayyads as far as the Forbidden City in Beijing. There was also a flowering in Aztec and Inca civilisations.

In our contemporary context with much material concrete in urban developments, we need mosaicists who can add the colour, detail and character to building that will attract travellers of the future. One of the reasons we go somewhere is to see. If there is little of interest other than similar concrete buildings everywhere to see, there is much less reason to travel. Yes, we also go for music, theatre and food, but the way a place looks is significant.

Through durable and interesting mosaic art we can encourage architecture’s most expressive surface to create the opulence and splendour which in previous generations we placed in our sacred structures: churches, mosques, temples and palaces.

Our highly constructive times, where engineering and science have allowed rapid and expansive projects, are crying out for a medium that is distinctive and original. The student who learns mosaic art will be building on the techniques and materials of the past, while being aware of an incredible potential to innovate and broaden the scope for this medium. For example, the scope of mosaic includes using natural stones within a region, as well as linking places to their history, while creating the heritage of the future.

In the 19th century the Arts & Crafts movement changed domestic interiors for good bringing gothic and decorative elements into previously drab interiors; now in the 21st century Mosaic Artisans are preparing to transform public spaces and the exterior of our built environment.