Reflective post number 12

MOSAICS: PIECES OF A PUZZLE

3rd December 2016: ASPROM CONFERENCE AND AND OTHER PIECE OF THE PUZZLE FALLS INTO PLACE

Today I attended the annual conference of the Association for the Study and Preservation of Roman Mosaics (ASPROM ).  Over lunch I took the opportunity to ask Chris Smith, a prominent Mosaic artist and an expert in the area of conservation of Roman Mosaics why Mosaic making appears to have ground to a halt in Britain once the Romans left.  He told me that it was a question of distance and economics.   As an outpost of the Empire, it was always expensive to get a Mosaic made in Roman Britain as the craftsmen had to travel to do the work ( though usually they used local materials).  If local help was required on the project, they were usually slaves.  Therefore there were very few home grown Mosaic artists and no local craft tradition, unlike in Italy, for example, where there were (and still are) generations of families working as mosaic makers.   It became too costly to get mosaics made, with the exception of extremely special buildings like the Cosmati Pavement in Westminster Abbey that dates from 1245.

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