Mosaic Tour in HongKong

Last weekend I visited Hongkong. In preparation for my trip I researched “Mosaic artists in Hongkong” – and Karen Pow appeared on my screen. After being disappointed that she wouldn’t be in Hongkong when I was there, I was over the moon when she provided me with the detailed locations of her public mosaics all over town – my plan took shape to go on a mosaic tour through Hongkong. I was even more excited when Karin Moorhouse an Australian travel- and food writer who lives in Hongkong for most of her adult life, agreed to join me and even better suggested, as an insider, to work out the route. So we met on a fine morning of January 13, 2020 at the Tsim Sha Tsui Star Ferry terminal to go on this adventure. In the evening of that day over a beer she drew me a line on the map where we went – to my surprise we had circled both main islands Hongkong and Kowloon – seeing great mosaic murals – and touched a lot of Hongkong life and history away from the normal tourist spots. Here is my picture story:

First we went to Mei Foo Sun Chuen station where we found after a bit of asking the Evangel Seminary with Karen Pows latest commissions, beautifying the courtyard of the seminary.

Address: G/F 38-46 Nassau St., Mei Foo Sun Chuen.

The premisses of the seminary are in the lower ground of a multi story building in a a residential neighborhood.

We moved on using the MTR Hongkongs Metro to Tsuen Wan MTR station

The community mosaic at the outside wall of Tuen Wan MTR station was made in 2010 in a collaboration between Karen Pow and Gareth Dunster, with the participation of schools and youth clubs of the area.

The dynamic shapes depicting geometrical patterns from impressions of the city are mounted on the wall along a footbridge along side the station. In downtown Hongkong you can walk a lot on these footbridges over the roaring traffic below the towering high-rise but protected from rain and sun by roofs.

Then we drove to another metro station that was the place of heavy fights between police and demonstrators in the ongoing conflict in Hongkong. During the days of my visit the city was quiet and only the traces of papers stuck over the mosaics in this metro station are some marks of heated disputes.

Nan Lian Garden, 60 Fung Tak Road, Diamond Hill, Kowloon Island

For Lunch Karin took me to this beautiful new garden&Temple development. We could rest our eyes on the green after looking intensively at walls and our energy was fueled with a delicious vegetarian meal at the restaurant in the park carefully chosen by my food connoisseur companion.

The last stop was one of the remaining villages of Hongkong. The dwelling on a steep slope reminded me of the location of the favelas in Rio de Janeiro. Outside the village is a map with points of interest, a pagoda, a silo, a diary workers club.

Pokfulham Village, Pukfulham Road, Hongkong Island

For the community arts biennale 2013 Karen Pows studio in collaboration with students made the plaques for places of interest in the village using mosaic . Unfortunately we could only find the plaque for the Silo although we walked around a lot in the narrow streets of this dwelling.

Did you know that Hongkong had its own cattle farm and diary production? It turned out that Karin Moorhouse had worked at the diary factory as a manager. Now hard to imagine given the developments of high rise over the past 40 years. The village stayed as a witness of the past of many ordinary people in Hongkong. Hopefully it will not give way to a high rise development.

This is the route we took that day and I am in awe what I saw and learned about Hongkongs living quarters, architecture, history, public transport systems. Thank you Karen Pow for producing all these mosaics that lead me and Karin through your city and thank you Karin for being such a wonderful host and guide. Without you I wouldn’t have learned about the diary farm, the clashes right under the mosaics of Ngau Tao Kok station and the new Nan Lion Garden.

Our mosaic route on January 13, 2020

SAMA conference 2019

Since 3 years I am a member of the Society of American Mosaic Artists – SAMA. SAMA has around 900 members including mosaic artists at all levels, mosaic aficionados, collectors, materials suppliers, and art educators and is almost entirely run by volunteers .

One of the activities SAMA is organizing is a yearly conference that brings members together, through exhibitions, workshops, auctions, tours and simple living together during an entire week. At the same time SAMA educates the public about mosaics through exhibiting mosaic art in the respective city where the conference takes place. This year the conference was held April 23-28 in Nashville/Tennessee.

The mosaic exhibitions

Mosaic art works were exhibited in three important public buildings of the city of Nashville during January – May 2019.

Architectural&community mosaics at the Public Library,

Fine art mosaics and “one hundred moments in mosaic’ at the Parthenon building – yes Nashville has a one to one replica of Athens Parthenon! –

and an exhibition of 5 renowned mosaic artists at the Vanderbilt Universities Fine Art Gallery. I will give you some photos of my favorite works of the three exhibitions.

The community mosaic “Athos meets Gaudi” that I created with the staff of UNDP for the UN Building in Brasilia was selected for the show of architectural mosaic art at the main building of the Public Library of Nashville. Arriving in Nashville on April 22 the huge classicistic building of the Library in the centre of town was our first destination. (My friend Miriam and I did a road trip from Detroit to Nashville, driving trough blue grass and country music territory). Nineteen mosaics applied to architectural surfaces were shown in the gallery of the main hall of the library. As you could not bring the projects themselves to the exhibition, each project was presented in a poster and a screen that displayed more photos (iPad format). Some projects had examples of work, sketches, tools etc presented in large glass vitrines on two sides of the gallery.

I was impressed by the exhibition design and dedication of the curators to convey to the public a lot of information about all this very interesting projects being realized as commissions in different places of the world.

I can really recommend you to look at Kathleen Crocetti’s “Celebrating Diversity of Labor” community mosaic project involving immigrants communities in the design of 16 mosaic medallions inserted into the pavement of the main street of Watsonville, California. This project was chosen as the best community mosaic project for this exhibition.

The Parthenon in Nashville/TN – kind of classy that the fine art mosaics where displayed in an architectural setting that ages ago they belonged to.

The Fine art mosaics exhibition was in the centre of the exhibition space at the Parthenon. 38 mosaic works were presented. These mosaic art pieces were produced from many different materials, as it is the beauty in mosaic to have this sheer endless variety of materials to create with. Reading through the artists statements it struck me that all of them were inspired by a concern over environment – being it nature or social.

On Wednesday evening during the conference we could visit all three exhibition spaces with a hop- on- hop- off bus that toured between them and the hotel.

At the fine arts exhibition we all stood somewhat awed trying to figure out meaning and techniques whilst speaking to the artists present amongst us but when people entered the back room with the exhibition of “one hundred moments in mosaics”, the spirit shifted to expressions of pure joy of these adorable small creations.

These mosaics were created for exhibition just using the same size frame (15×15 cm) as a uniting element of all projects. Experiencing this I would like my mosaics to create moments of joy rather then awe and heavy thinking.

At the third exhibition venue, the Vanderbilt University Fine Arts Gallery, 5 renowned mosaic artists: Atsuko Laskaris, California; Lilian Broca, Canada; Shug Jones, Texas; Michael Kruzich, California; Carol Shelkin, Pennsylvania could show their works between March and May 2019. Yes these are clearly masters of their techniques. Some of the projects measuring between 1-2m in length and width.

The conference

During the conference, which lasted from Tuesday to Sunday, one could choose from almost 20 workshops, attend about 10 lectures, go to three mosaic exhibitions, buy mosaic tools and material from 20 different vendors and acquire mosaics of a famos artist in an auction, attend the General meeting and network with more than 300 other mosaic makers from all over the US, Canada, Puerto Rico and Brazil !

And a nice activity one could always drop in was the SAMA community mosaic. As always, it was refreshing during all the talks and chats to sit in a room with others concentrating making mosaic. I really thank Jairo and Suzan Prado who were the organizers of this community mosaic work to provide us with this opportunity.

On the makers side I participated in two workshops: cement carving with Elder Jones and Picasette in Portraiture with Gila Rayberg. In the cement carving class

At the portraiture class we learned how to use parts of dishes in portraiture. The technique using dishes in mosaic is called Picassiette. I never regarded this as a very artistic material but Gila Raysberg convinced me of taking this technique into consideration for my own work.

At the weekend one could attend lectures. All of them were very interesting topics – on Friday more around promoting our mosaic works and on Saturday 3 very interesting portraits of houses decorated with mosaic and the people behind it. If you are interested check out:

George Ehling, Los Angeles

Ilana Shafir, Ashkelon, Israel

Ricky Boscarino, Luna Park, Montague, NJ

My main take homes from the conference are:

  1. Got to know the world of American mosaic makers
  2. Reassurance that I have acquired good knowledge in my self studies and projects
  3. knowledge of many interesting projects in the world of mosaics
  4. I’ve found my guild,
  5. I met new colleagues and made new friends
  6. I purchased 2 mosaics that are with me in China now

Color Theory for Mosaic in Curitiba

In this spacious atelier of the “Deposito do mosaico” in Curitiba from 26. Feb until 2. March I attended the course on “Theory of colors for mosaic” given by Manas Bonetti twin sisters from Santa Catarina state in the south of Brazil.

In the first two days we learned about color spectrum and how we can mix colors according to it without being able to physically mix colors which of course is not possible with mosaics.

We produced a color chart with the three primary colors Red, green and blue going from light to dark.

As material we were offered to use a new vitreous paste produced in Brazil that comes in many colors and also mixed.

On top of using new material and a new color range we were introduced to a new setting technique for wich you set trapezoid shaped cubes twisted onto one corner directly into cement.

This was not easy to execute: breaking new material with hammer &hardy, applying it according to the color theory and in a new setting technique. The course lasted from Monday till Friday, 9.00 – 18.00. I was truly exhausted. But it was absolutely worth it. Look at the study pieces of all students below!

All earned their certificate! All students standing and the organizers and teachers kneeling – from left Leticia Melara, manager of Deposito do Mosaico, Curitiba, Mariella & Michelle Bonetti, Teachers of the course and Mosaicists from Urussanga, Santa Catarina,  Bea Pereira, mosaicist and owner of Deposito do Mosaico, Curitiba.