Today I visited my mosaic colleague Thomas Denker. I met Thomas at the joint meeting of the German and British Association of mosaic artists in York last October. Thomas is famous for his mosaics designs in which he uses the construction of pixels known in the photographic world. We are currently working together on a project where he uses his self written software to produce a mosaicified version of a design of me.
Speaking over these and that in the world of mosaics Thomas mentioned the mosaic mural “ Frankfurter Treppe” inspired by Stephan Huber at the Foyer of the Maintower, at the Neue Mainzer Straße in the middle of the City of Frankfurt.
This afternoon I took the tram no 5 to go and visit this mosaic.
Walking along Neue Mainzer Straße connects Opernplatz with Willi – Brandt – Platz. It’s a typical city street which is darkend from the high rises. Already through the glass front the intense blue of the sides of the mural is visible. Going inside the visitor stands immediately in front of the gigantic mosaic.
It depicts persons of importance in the history of the city meeting ordinary citizens on a wide stair symbolizing the public. The known people are not only of constructive importance for the city like the philosopher Theodor Adorno but also of conflicting importance like Magda Spiegel who was killed by the Nationalsozialisten.
The mosaic is made of Smalti- Italian mosaic glass in 20 shades of grey and blue. Thomas told me that they counted 270 hours of work per square meter. The mosaic workshop of Mayer of Munich created the mosaic after a computerized design of e photo montage by Stephan Huber. An amazing work from the year 1999.
The dragon sculpture for the Dragons Garden/ Julong Garden is ready!
I would like to take this sentence as the motto for this project: ‘ a bit complicated but it worked” . I am very happy we managed to finish this community mosaic project within the Julong Garden Neighborhood despite a very complicated structure, within the complicated situation of the COVID 19 outbreak and in a rather challenging setting of cultural differences(eg not everyone spoke the same language) of the participants.
We started in Oktober 2019 (click on the underlined link to open up the previous blog on the dragon) with the design which I then presented to the compound management. After getting their green light we set off to produce the larger parts of the mosaic in November in the mosaic moments studio in Julong Garden.
During the holiday period in December and January the dragon slept. Then came the COVID 19 outbreak in China and we were bound to our houses. The work on the dragon gave me and my husband an occupation to step out of hard work and worries and into colors and geometric shapes. We had two lovely sessions working on the tail of the dragon and listening to Albert Camus “The plague”
The dragon mosaic is made from tiles broken with a hammer and then put together into a new design, the shards are glued with white glue onto fibre netting basically making a new tile. Later a transparent self adhesive film is stuck over the new tile. This keeps the mosaic safe between the Fibre netting and the adhesive until it is installed.
When the weather became warmer in Beijing the dragon production was set up outside, near the structure where it should be installed, under a beautiful Pergola. Many neighbors joined, still cautious but happy to be able to meet again or at the first time. It was a happy and relieved atmosphere with in the beautiful spring in Beijing.
Finally on May 6 the Beijing government allowed building work again . So we set off to prepare the structure. Taking away the old plaster revealed some very crumbely cement underneath. I needed a mason! A neighbor passed by and got interested in what we were doing, he pulled out his phone and called a number. I didn’t understand what he was saying. 5 minutes later a friendly man appeared that somehow made me understand that he is there to help. This way I found Huang and his brother who became experts in mosaic installation working very careful and diligent with this rather fine art material.
On May 23 the main parts of the dragon were installed with the help of builder Huang and many neighbors.
In the weeks between 23 May and 6 June I worked outside making all the remaining pieces for the many corners that the structure has. This was a challenging design task to connect the main parts within all the bends and folds.
Every morning I worked on a self made table from the trash of another building site which I put up directly next to the dragon. It was a wonderful period being outside under the tall trees hearing the birds sing. My outdoor studio attracted the attention of a lot of passer by’s. Some just watched others were very keen to participate. Lisa and her colleague came in their lunch break to make two pieces
My French neighbor Magali helped in stalling the last 12 pieces. It was fun feeling like builders.
Finally the grouting day came. After the glueing cement was dry and the protective film removed the whole dragon could be grouted.
On the morning of June 6 I was anxious if we could finish grouting the dragon as only 3 people announced their participation – and what a surprise: more than 10 people came with dogs and babies to join in this magic grouting party.
Now the dragon watches over our neighborhood with its kind eye even at night. If you have him in your back like the couple in the last picture he wags his good energy towards you with his tail.
Since we were living in Uzbekistan from 2004-2006 I am fascinated by the lines that create the geometric patterns in the tiles of ancient islamic art on the mosques and schools.
In January this year I visited Samarqand and Buchara again. The trip started with some snow flakes, but then the weather evolved into a beautiful blue spring sky.
About Islamic Patterns: “Islamic decoration makes great use of geometric shapes, which have developed over centuries. These patterns of Islamic art are often said to arise from the Islamic view of the world, which is the central concept of Tawhid, or Divine Unity. To Muslims these forms, taken together, constitute an infinite pattern that extends beyond the visible material world. They concretely symbolize uncentralized nature of the creation of Allah and therefore in their use of patterns, Islamic artists are in part expressing the fathomless of Got – not just that God is everywhere, but that God is unknowable. In this sense, pattern can be used as a meditative tool.” source: Backhouse, Tim”Only God is Perfect”. Islamic and Geometric Art, http://www.geometricdesign.co.uk/
In Turkey I found these patterns again and used some of them for my mosaic designs.
Coming back to Beijing from Uzbekistan in early February, I was devastated, that I could not open my studio, due to the coronary virus outbreak in China. We had to be under home quarantine and congregating in larger groups was and still is not allowed.
So I took a ruler and compass and with the help of only these instruments and the instructions of the book “Islamic Geometric Design” I immersed into the world of lines – forming patterns, making peace with the chaos around me …