One Year

…. old today. To celebrate this blog’s first birthday I have chosen some favourite images from the more humble areas of the V&A’s fabulous mosaic floor. I took these shots as I was leaving one evening after working all day on the installations in Gallery 101. Scurrying down the corridor above the Cast Courts, I became aware of the subtle, patterns beneath my feet.

Floor mosaic, detail, V&A  Floor mosaic, detail, V&A

William Morris said of woven tapestry: “It may be looked upon as a mosaic of pieces of colour made up of dyed threads” And it has always struck me that there are close parallels between tapestry and mosaic – both are built up from blocks, the structure of making and image completely interlocked.

Floor mosaic, detail, V&A  Floor mosaic, detail, V&A

I find myself ceaselessly attracted to the grid format ‐ such a strong and basic design device. It is, of course, the fundamental structure of weave ‐ the vertical warp, the horizontal weft. It is also a great system for exploring repetition. In these images, I love the minimal self-colour ‐ the changing scale of the mosaic alone defining shape.

Floor mosaic, detail, V&A  No Mans Land, 2004, tapestry, detail. Sue Lawty

The tapestry image (bottom right) is a detail of No Mans Land, linen, raphia, hemp, cotton, woven in 2004. Much of the museum’s floor is covered by mosaic and it has been fascinating to see increasing amounts of it released from the linoleum overlay and reinstated as part of the museum’s 10 year plan. Much of it, I have been told, was laid by female convicts. Starting in 1869, women from Woking Prison were employed in gangs. Using fragments of refuse marble, which they chipped into suitable sized pieces, they assembled blocks or ‘tiles’ of mosaic. These were then rubbed down to a level surface using a piece of York stone. The result became known as Opus Criminale.


One thought on “One Year


I’m giving a lecture on Creativity in UK Prisons and am very interested to read about the contribution from Woking jail here. I do not know of any current projects using mosaic though there is a stone mason’s workshop in HMP Rochester, I also like your pointing out the link with tapestry and I include material on Fine Cell Work as party of my campaign for more of this kind of activity in the Gove future masterplan,

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