Over the past week London School of Mosaic achieved two firsts – our first recognised appearance at Tate Modern and a piece of our work was featured on the cover of Time Out , in a mosaic made with food waste. At Tate Modern we celebrated art at its finest, on the cover of Time Out we celebrated turning waste into a feast.
The link in between Mosaic and Food is intriguing, perhaps most poignantly within the sense that both are an art form in skilled hands and that their unfathomable neglect as art leads to waste and cultural loss.
The recent front cover of Time Out, featured mosaic made out of left-over food by London School of Mosaic artists Giulia Vogrig and Rada Stillanova.
The cover story gave us narratives from 15 London restaurants who create taste from waste and engage with the green circle of life – celebrating seasonal foods, zero-waste, eating grey squirrels, banning plastic from kitchens, using ingredients for cocktails and dishes made from the blossoms of local flora, composting thrown away food to provide the nutrients to grow ingredients for our next meal.
Green is the scene.
Each one of us who likes food, knows that a good meal, cooked with loving hands is part of the essence of conviviality. The aromas, sights, tastes, sounds, places where we eat, joining in the green movement for greater good, conversations surrounding our enjoyment - all these elements and more create memories that make life worth living. However, when we neglect to reverence food as an intrinsic part of the quality of life we risk the blight of obesity, waste of resources, diminution of value and in the worst case scenarios there is hunger and famine where greed causes poverty, through misplaced distribution of resource.
Young people tasting the delights of mosaic at Tate Modern, both as a mosaic jelly and then designing and making mosaics with other artists from London School of Mosaic (LSoM).
In a curiously similar way, mosaic is neglected as an art form and yet it is all around us. Its ubiquity, simplicity and foundation of our built environment are so obvious that we forget bricks are put together in patterns to make our homes, slabs of concrete are laid to make pavements we walk on, pixels form the letters and images we read on computers, mosaic design is intrinsic to quality of life.
The word “Mosaic” comes from the Greek - Muse of Art. As an original floor and decoration for villas, palaces and temples, it inspired the sculpture and architecture that was part of the Middle Eastern, African and European miracle of art in Sumerian, Egyptian, Greek, Roman and Arabian cultures. For ancient foot trails, the patterning of pebbles and stones symbolised how working with nature, using the riches of colours and materials, we made stepping stones that led us across rivers, through impenetrable forests and terrain, creating pathways, bridges and roads that led to civilisation.
These days we sense we have taken aspects of civilisation too far. Our plundering of nature, reliance on the bottom line, promotion of competition over cooperation, developing systems that fight and destroy each other in gangs and nations, rather than promoting alliances, sharing skills, working as part of landscapes within Mother Nature, seeing other humans as rivals for dominion over resources, rather than partners in unity – has led us to thoughts and concerns about extinction. Our own history of making desert out of the original Garden of Eden (in modern day Iraq), eliminating most mega fauna across the earth and ocean, the rise and fall of every empire that existed, going so far as surveys of today’s workers where 70% of people dislike their job: these are the dilemma’s that bring us back to basics and remind us to make art, create beauty and live in harmony.
London School of Mosaic has been sponsored by Nesta’s Arts Impact Fund and thank them for their faith in our social impact and viability as an enterprise. We have succeeded in uniting old and new, ancient and contemporary, every continent on earth where mosaic is practised, re-establishing the foundations of culture that challenge austerity’s brutal minimalism. We champion the channelling of resources away from conflict and waste, towards cooperation, creativity and inclusion.
At London School of Mosaic we work in cooperation with others. We particularly welcome our partnership with Public Works Group of architects who are leading our efforts to bring back empty space at our premises in Camden. We celebrate our collaboration with Dr Will Wootton from Kings College London who lectures on Roman art and has specialist knowledge on ancient mosaics, sharing this with our audience at Tate Modern, and we thank artists like Joseph Moss, who choose to use mosaic in their work and champion its revival as a serious art form.