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Posts Tagged ‘mosaic’

Photo: Andy Chopping/MOLA.
This newly unearthed mosaic is thought to have adorned the floors of a Roman dining room. The spot where it stands is close to London Bridge.

There are still surprises to be found on Planet Earth. Sometimes right beneath your feet. In today’s story, it was a Roman mosaic buried below a parking lot. Wouldn’t you have liked to be the chap who first realized what was there? As often happens in archaeology, the mosaic was discovered in the process of prepping a site for new construction. Jeevan Ravindran had the story at CNN.

“A large area of well-preserved Roman mosaic — parts of it approximately 1,800 years old — has been uncovered in London near one of the city’s most popular landmarks. The mosaic is thought to have adorned the floors of a Roman dining room, and the spot where it stands is near the Shard — the capital’s tallest building, close to London Bridge.

“Archaeologists from the Museum of London Archaeology (MOLA) unearthed the mosaic earlier this month during an excavation ahead of building work due to take place on the site, which previously served as a car park.

“The find is the largest area of Roman mosaic to have been discovered in London in at least 50 years, according to a press release from MOLA.

” ‘It is a really, really special find,’ Sophie Jackson, MOLA’s director of developer services, told CNN Wednesday, adding that large Roman mosaics were not often built in London due to it being a ‘crowded’ city. …

“The dining room where the mosaic was found is thought to have been part of a Roman ‘mansio,’ or ‘upmarket “motel” offering accommodation, stabling, and dining facilities,’ the team said in the press release. The lavish decorations and size indicated only ‘high-ranking officers and their guests’ would have stayed there.

“The mosaic itself is [composed] of two panels, with the larger dating to the late 2nd or early 3rd century AD. However, the team spotted traces of an earlier mosaic underneath, which Jackson said an expert will now attempt to retrace and reconstruct.

“The larger panel is decorated with ‘large, colorful flowers surrounded by bands of intertwining strands’ and patterns including a Solomon’s knot (a looped motif). …

“As there is an ‘exact parallel’ to this design in a mosaic found in the German city of Trier, the team believes the same artists worked on both, suggesting a tradition of ‘traveling Roman artisans at work in London.’ …

“Near the spot where the mosaic was found, the team also found traces of ‘lavishly’ painted walls, terrazzo-style and mosaic floors, coins, jewelry and decorated bone hairpins, suggesting the area was occupied by wealthy inhabitants.

“Although the mosaic’s future is not yet decided, Jackson said it will likely go on public display. The archaeologists will now proceed to the final stage of the excavation, at a spot that has not previously been examined.”

Bet the folks behind the planned construction are feeling a little frustrated! More at CNN, here.

You may also like to read about the mosaics in Trier, a World Heritage site. Dr. Marcus Reuter, director of the Rheinisches Landesmuseum, says, “Most of the mosaics come from our own excavations in the region. Many impressive objects that point to the Roman city’s significance have been found in the former Roman Imperial Residence of Trier.” More from Germany here.

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Photos: AFP/THOMAS COEX
Renovated mosaics and columns inside the Church of the Nativity in the occupied West Bank biblical city of Bethlehem.

Do you like mosaics? I relate to arts such as mosaics or collage because I love putting pieces of things together to make something new. As quilters do. And editors. And activists who change the world one by one.

This is a story from Bethlehem, in the Palestinian Territories, where restoration work has tapped the artistry of workers who can envision how small pieces together make a whole.

Clothilde Mraffko writes at Yahoo News, “Masked for centuries by the soot of candles and lately by scaffolding, the mosaics of Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity have been restored. …

“Over the past 15 months, experts have cleaned and repaired surviving fragments of the 12th century masterworks, preserving 1,345 square feet (125 square metres) of what was once 21,528 square feet (2,000 square metres) of glittering gold and glass. The rest has been eaten away by wear, humidity, wars and earthquakes.

“Now the restored remains shine against the white walls above the heads of visitors to the church in the Israeli-occupied West Bank city of Bethlehem that marks the traditional birthplace of Jesus.

“Overlooking the nave are seven angels framed in gold who appear to have landed on a carpet of vivid green grass. …

” ‘These mosaics are made of gold leaf placed between two glass plates,’ Marcello Piacenti, who supervises the work on behalf of his Italian family restoration firm Piacenti, told AFP [Agence France-Presse]. ‘Only faces and limbs are drawn with small pieces of stone.’

“One of the partially destroyed angel figures was restored using different materials to the original so as not to mislead future archaeologists. [!]

“Ibrahim Abed Rabbo, a Palestinian Authority (PA) engineer said the transformation caused by the restoration is striking. ‘When you entered the church before, you could not even make out that there were mosaics, it was so black,’ he said.

“In a rarity for the period, the works were signed by the craftsmen responsible, Abed Rabbo said. …

“Father Asbed Balian is the senior cleric of the Armenian church at the basilica, where property rights are shared with the Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox faiths. After seeing the completed restoration, he said, he was ‘stunned. … Spiritually, we feel more exalted.’ …

“When the Palestinian Authority began renovations in 2013, ‘the basilica was in danger,’ PA restoration consultant Afif Tweme said. …

” ‘It’s very special, because of the location,’ said Piacenti. ‘Sometimes I have to force them (workers) to leave’ at the end of the day.” More here.

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Yesterday was beautiful in New York, and my sister was feeling fine, having been off chemo and radiation a month. New treatments start today.

We took the subway from the Upper West Side down to Chelsea, which she says feels like a whole different city to her. We went to a very avant garde museum, walked around, met up with childhood friends, had tea at an indy bookstore, and admired several subway mosaics.

In the first photo below, a New York crowd is watching a cameraman who is making a movie of the woman in the second photo. Then there are several shots of a long city-life mural. I was especially struck by the man in the red tie, who seems to be riveted by a miracle that only he can see.

Next come New Year’s Eve revelers. The added sticker is a sign of how very eager New Yorkers are to vote right now, longing for a miracle.

Next come two unusual church signs. The first is in the graveyard of the Basilica of St. Patrick on Prince Street. I’m guessing they wanted the sheep for mowing the grass. The second is from a Greek Orthodox church on West End Avenue that has a service called the Falling Asleep of St. John the Theologian.

Finally, someone’s tortoise is running like a hare from paparazzi.

That’s New York for you.

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Photo: MTA Arts for Transit
Faith Ringgold’s mosaic “Flying Home: Harlem Heroes and Heroines (Downtown and Uptown),” 1996, is one of the pieces of subway art featured in a PBS documentary.

I’m always amazed by the beauty of the mosaics in the New York subway, even the ones that merely tell you what street you’re at. It makes me happy to see that the city values them, too, and periodically cleans up the oldest ones. They go back as early as 1901.

My sister alerted me to an excellent PBS documentary about recent additions to the art in the subway system. You can read about it at the website Mosaic Art Now.

“For a delightful immersion into the history and current activities of the enormous underground museum that is the New York subway system’s Arts For Transit program, treat yourself to WNET Channel Thirteen’s free one hour video called ‘Treasures of New York: Art Underground.’ …

“Mosaic artist Steven Miotto gets major face time. His decades-long collaboration with artists of all stripes is a fascinating story in itself. When selected by a commissioned artist as a collaborating partner, he gets into their minds and hearts, leading them through the complex process of translating their vision and their graphic designs into mosaic ‘paintings for eternity.’ …

Faith Ringgold, speaks eloquently and nostalgically about the series of paintings – now mosaics – that portray the heroes of her Harlem childhood. Writers and musicians fly across the cityscape in flattened but vivid characterizations. I had the opportunity to interview her when she was in Miami last year, and she spoke about the challenges of trying to ‘make it’ as an African-American artist dealing with political themes at a time when the galleries favored the abstract.  Click here (http://bitly.com/yxGJ3R) to listen to that interview with her.”

See some of the beautiful new mosaics and watch the video here.

If you are up for more on transit-system art, be sure to check out an excellent article by Sarah Hotchkiss at KQED about what’s going on with San Francisco’s Transbay system, here.

 

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Photo: beniculturali.gov.it
The newly discovered “commander’s house” was found while digging Rome’s Metro C subway line. It dates back to the 2nd century.

Nowadays, archaeologists get involved at construction sites early, especially if there’s a suspicion of buried culture deep down. It must be frustrating for builders to delay a project when something of historical significance is unearthed, but I like to think that some builders (or perhaps some low-level workers) find it exciting to be part of history. I like to imagine that once in a while an inspired worker goes back to school and becomes an archaeologist.

In Rome, a subway project first revealed unexpected treasure in 2016. Elena Goukassian has a report at Hyperallergic.

“In the summer of 2016, while digging the new Metro C subway line in Rome, workers came across a rare archeological find, a 2nd-century CE Roman barracks. [More recently] archeologists uncovered the remains of a ‘commander’s house’ (domus) connected to the barracks, ‘the first discovery of its kind in the Italian capital,’ according to the Agenzia Nazionale Stampa Associata (ANSA).

“Complete with marble floors, mosaics, and frescoes, the Hadrian-era house was found [roughly 39 feet] under the Amba Aradam station, close to the Basilica of San Giovanni Laterano. …

“Measuring 300 square meters (~3,200 square feet), the house contains 14 separate rooms, including a ‘bathhouse with underfloor heating.’

“The house will be dismantled piece by piece and temporarily moved, before returning to its original location and incorporated into the new metro station, which ‘will surely become the most beautiful metro station in the world,” [the head of Rome’s monuments authority, Francesco Prosperetti] told reporters.”

Great pictures at Hyperallergic, here.

Who wouldn’t love the mosaic owl discovered under a subway line in Italy?

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A few photos.

The Barrow Bookstore featured a Thoreau quote on its kale-decorated book barrow at Thanksgiving: “My Thanksgiving is perpetual … for my wealth is not possession but enjoyment.” This shop off Main Street is the place to go for gently used and out-of-print books.

A yellow rose was blooming on Beacon Hill as late as November 19.

Fort Point Arts has a new show by six contemporary mosaic artists using a variety of techniques and materials. One favorite example: Aesop’s wisdom about the fox, the grapes, and the crow, rendered as a mirror.

Finally, no matter how many times I have walked up and down School Street in Boston, I have failed until now to zero in on the reason it is called School Street. A Latin school was established there in 1635, before the founding of Harvard even, and many notables attended over the years. You should be able to read these names on the plaque in the sidewalk: Benjamin Franklin, Samuel Adams, John Hancock, Charles Bullfinch, and Ralph Waldo Emerson. Boston Latin is still going strong, but in a new location.

I love that the original Boston Lain was teaching Latin and Greek, languages I once knew a bit. I am also reminded that those languages were taught at outdoor hedge schools in 18th Century Ireland, when the English were blocking education by Catholics.

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fish-car-made-with-vinyl-stickersHere are a few recent photos. The owner of the fish car showed up as I was taking the picture, so I heard the artist’s story. He threw a party and provided his friends with every shade of adhesive-backed vinyl and pairs of scissors. And they cut small pieces to create a kind of mosaic of the fish, the sea, the goldfinch on the mirror, and so on.

Next we have early morning looking over a river in Concord, then early-morning rowers on the Seekonk in Providence.

Early-morning roses follow on early-morning clematis. Modern sculpture does an early-morning stretch in front of the historic house that is now an art center.

Then there is the teapot near Boston’s Government Center, private boats in Boston Harbor, and milkweed. (You’ll have to take my word for it that the milkweed was full of bees.)

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