“You place your trust in the next artist […], and short thereafter you end up with pieces of mosaic falling off the ceiling onto your head…”
–from my book LIKE THE GODS, chapter 3.6– Unsettling, isn’t it? It happens, alas; though it should not.
This is exactly what happened on August 27th this year, at the Post Office in the beautiful island of Lipari, off the northern coast of Sicily.
The Giornale di Lipari reports: “The Post Office mosaic collapses – a close miss”, and a homemade video shows the place of the incident.
It could have turned into a really bad incident, or as some would dare say: “a misfortune”.
By a lucky chance, no one was hurt.
A piece of the mosaic fell down from high above, and shattered on the pavement in front of the ATM, where children and grownups station or walk by.
Even just a small damage to a car or motorcycle would have been unacceptable.
The few images that I could analyse have made me reasonably certain that whoever it was who installed the mosaic onto the wall, did not comply with all the required regulations, not to mention common sense, all of which are essential for a steady connection of the mosaic to the structure.
Fortunately, it was a small mosaic that collapsed, and the pavement should not have been damaged much as a consequence.
Something that is often forgotten, both by mosaic practitioners and buyers or final recipients of the artwork, are the responsibilities imposed by civil and criminal law on their work.
The fact that the place of the incident is public is an aggravating circumstance.
Public works must undergo safety tests, and if there is reason to doubt their correct execution and placement they must be refused, under the responsibility of the craftsperson / artist / installer, who may be called to remake the work from the beginning, or remove it and re-establish the previously existing situation.
Thus, responsibilities are manifold.
I have often heard mention, as a mitigating circumstance, the fact that the work had been executed free of charge: the craftsperson / artist has provided and/or installed the work without being paid for it.
THIS IS FAR FROM BEING A MITIGATION!
When I insist in saying that mosaic is NOT JUST what you see on the surface, that is, the external aesthetics, I am sure I am right!
A mosaic is made of layers, and it is essential that each of them is carefully prepared.
Materials have physical and chemical interactions; their compatibility determines the stability, durability and security of persons and objects.
I have been often told I am too fussy in studying and choosing materials for my mosaics.
Obtaining data sheets of materials, and checking their usage specs, is a mandatory step. Each material, each mortar or adhesive has its specific scope, and this is something that many self-proclaimed mosaic makers ignore completely.
In my atelier, I have a standard company protocol, by which at least once a year we carry all unused mortars, having reached the expiry date printed by the manufacturer, to the waste collection centre.
Using expired mortars is not just dangerous; it is also a fraud against the client.
These procedures cost me time and money. And my clients deserve an art work that cares for their investment, and for the trust they put in my professionalism – and of course, that prevents unpleasant incidents.
When you commission the execution and installation of your mosaic, are you sure you are not relying hand-and-foot on a mosaic practitioner, who is in no way a true professional?
I know very well and I understand how you, having no experience with mosaic, cannot but trust someone, and hope for the best.
However, you should not overlook the fact that now you have several tools at hand, to check the reliability of the artist / craftsperson:
The guarantee I offer you on my works is “FOR LIFE”.
Yes, you got it right. So sure do I feel about the research and development work I did along all these years, that I created strict procedures, which are now in use in MosArtek, my high-design of Italian art mosaic company; and they allow me to guarantee your mosaic for life.
Not like the ones that collapse!