For centuries, visual art has been used as a medium to accentuate the beauty of a place. Though art transformed with the passage of time, it is still used as a medium to add beauty to places. People still add artworks to adorn their houses and offices. While some choose re-prints of contemporary paintings or traditional paintings, others, who can afford to, prefer to adorn their place lavishly with exclusive artworks.

Use of art as decorative element

Recently, I visited one of my friends at her home. Though I had been to her place many times before, but this time it was different. She had revamped her home space and God! It looked splendid. A long aisle gave her the opportunity to convert one of the walls of entryway into a gallery wall and showcase number of contemporary paintings. The aisle led to a lobby that was done in sleek silhouettes and was very urban. The passage from entryway to lobby and from lobby to living room was like witnessing the evolution of art. The living room bore a vintage look. In her living room, she hung a huge traditional painting in antique frame to match the opulence of the mosaic ceiling. Visiting her recently revamped place was no less than an experience; an experience that was a blend of contemporary art paintings and rich history, that reminded me of my grandmother and her stories.

When I visited my grandmother as a child, she would narrate me stories of prince and princess. Her stories were mostly inspired by the Rajput clan of Rajasthan province of India. How distinctively she would describe the grandeur of royal palaces and places are something that I can never forget. She would tell me how large paintings, bejeweled sculptures and mosaics, elaborate designs carved out on pillars and walls, and metal idols, among other things, were used to decorate palaces. Her elaborate description of such artworks introduced me to different forms of visual art. 

What is Mosaic?

My childhood memories and the visit to my friend’s house inspired me to learn more about visual art. I was interested to know more about contemporary paintings, but my online search was derived by a recent archaeological discovery. A few months ago, Internet was taken over by an image of happy skeleton and his wise advice: ‘Be cheerful, enjoy your life.’ The image was a part of large 2,400 year-old mosaic that was unearthed by archaeologists in Turkey.

A marvelous piece of art and history, this mosaic draws parallel to modern motivational prints and posters. The mosaic depicts a cheerful skeleton surrounded by food and drinks. The skeleton is placed against a striking black background. It seems to be reclining on what a cushion like thing and holding a drink in left hand. The Greek text depicted in the mosaic reads, “Be cheerful, enjoy your life.”

For those who don’t know, trinkets of colored glass, stones and tiles, among other materials, assembled together to form images or patterns make a mosaic.

History of mosaic

The origin of mosaics can be traced back to the ancient civilization of Mesopotamia, where mosaics made of different materials like colored stones; shells and ivory were unearthed from a temple building. These mosaics belonged to the latter half of 3rd millennium BC. From Greeks to Romans, Christians to Jews and Arabs all experimented with mosaic art. Be it the ancient churches of Ravenna, Italy or the Jameh Mosque of Yazd or the Madaba Map of St. George Church in Madaba Jorda, they all depict the rich and ancient history of this glorious art form.

Where mosaic stands in modern world?

Though it is an ancient technique of decorative art, mosaic is still prevalent in this modern world of contemporary paintings and art. While ancient mosaics were predominantly architectural, contemporary mosaics can be found covering everything from walls of metro stations and underpasses to park benches, Moroccan lamps to tiles and earrings to decorative sculptures, among other things.

The DIY Show

Creating a mosaic is easy, but it is time consuming. It involves 4 basic steps:

  • Design
  • Tiling
  • Grouting
  • Sealing

There are number of sites that give a step-by-step tutorial of making mosaic pieces. Why don’t you try your hand at one and let’s know about your experience in our comment section.