THE AYVALIK MOSAIC – Brasilia studio first week

On Monday evening of Sept 21 I arrive in Brasilia, with a flight directly from Paris where I was together with our eldest daughter who just started to study in Paris.

She had no choice but to come with me and see the part of the mosaic, depicting a scene of the judgement of Paris,  in the Louvre  which was found in the 1930 in Antioch (now Antakya/Turkey) and was split among the parties that sponsored the excavation at that time. Today you can see the parts of the mosaic in 4 different museums in the world:

  • the Louvre
  • Princton University, Worcester Art Museum and Wellesley College  in the US
  • and some small parts of geometric patterns from the edge of the mosaic remained in Antakya Mosaic Museum

I am fascinated by this story in archeological history. There is a great book about this and the mosaic:

The Arts of Antioch: Art Historical and Scientific Approaches to Roman Mosaics and a Catalogue of the Worcester Art Museum Antioch Collection

The book was one of the first book on mosaics I bought and it inspired me in many ways. The essays on the material analysis of the tesserae and grout used in these roman mosaics encouraged me to look for more research on these materials and to continue with my experiments to work with roman cement.

A small footnote mentions a community mosaic which was produced for an exhibition at the Worcester Art Museum in 2000, that brought together the pieces of this mosaic from the different museums .

Reading about this community mosaic inspired me to design and organize the refugee community mosaic in Ankara in January – March 2015.

But back to Brasilia:

On Friday, Sept 25, look what was delivered to our doorstep at Lago Sul in Brasilia! The two boxes from Ayvalik! Everything inside: the background stones, nippers and 2 sets of hammer and hardie. Off to work, Gertrud!

THE AYVALIK MOSAIC – Ayvalik Atelier

And I really feel that I  and THE MOSAIC have come home! Knowing that this home is not where my family is gives me a crunch in the stomach.

The fish figures that were still wrapped for two weeks are taken out of their bubble wrap blankets and seem to be happy to hear the waves of the aegean sea for the first time.

I arrange my workplace  in the patio in front of Santimetre’s former atelier. In the morning I just have to walk through the garden and down a few steps to be at  work.

Finally I again manage to set up a working routine, especially for the background tesserae as they are placed mainly in line but still have to be put down thoughtfully in order to achieve a good mix of shades of beige.

I can visit THE HOUSE for the mosaic every day and feel completely happy and relaxed. I can go and smoke a cigaret on the roof top of the atelier and see the sea and the sun set. And I have interested friends around that I can talk to about techniques and materials.

Ayvalik sunset

There is Tulya Madra who hosts me and THE MOSAIC. My special thank is to her for showing interest in my mosaic work from the first moment we met and to be so explicit that she likes what I am doing.

Tulya is the crafter and manager of the porcelain workshop SANTIMETRE and makes dishes for everyday use.  I invite you to  watch their website, you will be enchanted!

There is Firat Aykac our architect who helped me not only with the design of the mosaic in photoshop and paper print outs but also made my first tree trunk out of olive wood to hold one important tool – the Hardie!

the olive tree from which the stand for my hardie will be cut

And there is Evrim the stone macon and his partner who come twice to the studio and look at my work and chat about the best way how to get the wall pieces onto the wall.

…. and of course there is Hamdi, who runs a fine small restaurant Argos Ayvalik on the shore of the sea and and is the best address when you are alone and with friends always with the best food, the best music and a good chat until late at night.

After now 6 weeks of working for 10 hours almost every day I do miss a my family

….. and last weekend my husband  comes to visit me and THE MOSAIC!

I am proud to show him my work and life.

But he also brings the message that they can not live any longer without wife and mother so far away in Brazil. So I have to take a decision:

Either living on my own in Ayvalik and finish the mosaic there and at the same time being near the house for the mosaic and observe the building work, with my own friends and contacts in the mosaic world,

or moving  to my family in Brazil, chauffeuring teenagers around and attend receptions and dinner parties again, arranging a large household, learning a new language, finding new friends and mosaic interested persons and keep working on the mosaic —

The decision is: I will move again! with my  design and stones, and hammer and hardie, and nippers — over the Atlantic into the tropics.

On Friday Sept 11 , 50kg of stone material for tesserae and tools are being shipped to Brasilia.

I am leaving Ayvalik with all its lovely supportive people and THE (half finished) MOSAIC  on Sept 14!

In my head  lots of uncertainties:

Will the boxes arrive in Brasilia?

Will I find a tree trunk and somebody to cut it for me to mount the hardie again?

Will I find the glue that I used?

Will the glue hold the stones even in tropical climate during rain season?

Will I find the time and energy to work on the mosaic next to learning to get to know a new place, culture and language?

How will I  bring the mosaic pieces back to Ayvalik ?

THE AYVALIK MOSAIC – Sarimsakli second week

This week its cutting, cutting, cutting stone. Now Mustafa has his pride and I am not allowed to join in.

So I start making the first wall piece inside the adjacent room as the wind is so strong on the open roof that I am afraid that the small tesserae are being blown away.

In the mean time Mustafa and I have an ongoing discussion how to know when there will be enough tesserae for the background and how we could measure it.

Finally we have the idea to put the printed design on the floor and spread the tesserae slightly heaped on it to see if it fills the background. It is not so easy to do this in the strong sea breeze and incredibly hot sun on a roof top! So we wait until sunset one less windy day.

This proofed to be a good method and by Wednesday we have enough tesserae.

Thursday is packing up time again because Mustafa has to leave back to Ankara. He offers to leave me a key to his apartment so that I could keep working there.


But I prefer to finally move the mosaic workshop to its place where it should be – to AYVALIK.

Tulya – the ceramic crafter – offers me her old atelier in her house where I am living anyway – 100m away from our house. So on Thursday, Sept 3 the stones, the ready figures and the tools, (except the cutting machine) move to the town and the house where I feel at home so much.

inside the Ayvalik atelier