The intention was to have a good break from murals. No surprises of old advertising or newish street art or anything that might make me think about murals. However, a visit to the Aegean coast, home to many ancient ruins led me to look at…. mosaics. And as some might be aware there are a fair amount of murals in London which either incorporate mosaic or are complete mosaics. Could you hear the big sigh as I looked upon the mosaic at the ruin of the mausoleum at Halicarnassus and started wondering about the mosaic’s construction in comparison to the contemporary pieces in London?
As far as I understand, mosaics originated in the Ancient world and were created by setting different coloured pebbles into patterns to create a floor. This moved to manufactured pieces called Tesserae. Fast forward a few thousand years to the last 40 years, skip, jump, a couple of countries and land in London where you find mural organisations creating mosaics, often using old pieces of ceramic or glass. Early users of mosaics were Free Form Arts who did a couple of pieces with large section of mosaics. My favourite is mentioned in the last blog post and is called the Island.
Another mosaic work from the early 1980s is the Rathmore Youth Club Mosaic benches located in Charlton (image courtesy of Eat Your Greens on Flickr) and executed by Greenwich Mural Workshop. These mosaics were part of a bigger scheme – the rest of the youth club had a painted mural which led down into the benches.
The paintings has been gone since the mid 1980s but luckily the mosaic has been restored.
Greenwich Mural Workshop mention on their website that mosaic has the longevity that paint lacks. However we have found a few sorry looking murals where the mosaiced pieces are being pulled away from the wall. One example is the Somers Town Youth Club mosaic mural on Cromer Street. As you can see, the right hand of side of this photo reveals a large damaged area where people have come along and slowly picked away the pieces.