Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Mexican Diary # 5: The Byzantine Studio

You can see pictures of my mosaics on my website: www.martincheekmosaics.com
The Barbados work is shown on page:
www.martincheekmosaics.com/html/barbados_floor.html

Mexican Diary # 5: The Byzantine Studio

Working in the Byzantine Studio feels to me very much like running a mosaic course – except that they are VERY experienced and know what I am talking about. Also I don’t have to be diplomatic – if I don’t like something or simply don’t think that it is up to scratch then I make them do it again – strangely they don’t seem to mind or get upset at this but rather respect me for knowing what I want and not accepting anything else. My patron preferred the top (darker) side of the breadfruit leaf to the under (lighter) side. I have only one lighter one for contrast but that’s all I wanted – however one girl, despite being repeatedly told this, has continued to mosaic her leaf with the light colours – I’ve just explained it all to her very clearly and now she is starting from scratch.The leg of the girl is being mosaiced by Sr. Frederico who has many years experience. However I thought that his mosaic was really awful and made him change it. There was no ‘sffumato’ in his work – it was divided graphically into areas of tone – this would have been fine for, say, a poser or a completely different piece but doesn’t sit comfortably with this work. The girl should look very nimble and sexy and these legs ruined that effect. Frederico finds criticism difficult and doesn’t like the idea that a woman’s work - Josephine’s work, is so much better than his. He is the most demanding of my time – when really his task is straightforward – just do it as good as the ladies on table 1!I really feel that we are getting there. This is going to be a stunning piece of work. I am so pleased that I am here though – to oversee the project – I really think that it is making a big difference to the end result.There’s much more for me to do than I anticipated – which is good. I thought that I would have an easier time of it but I am happy that it is working out this way – mainly due to the quality of the work that is being produced. It’s also the case that Kolorines were expecting me to swan in at 10 – or whenever I felt like it and then disappear soon after. I think that the fact that I turn up on time, with everyone else at 7 each morning has given me credibility. Aida is Luigi’s personal assistant and seems to pretty much run the studio on a daily basis. If any o the workers want to take a day off hen they have to ask permission from Aida. I have also seen Aida logging the clocking in cards and making pertinent ominous notes – if anyone is late three days in a row then they are punished by being made to stay at home for two days, thus losing those two days pay. This must be pretty tough because as the pay is around £10.00 per day, one can also assume that that puts them all on the ‘breadline’ or ‘tortilla line’ in their case – a hand to mouth existence where even Mexico’s cheap petrol (by our standards) is seen as a luxury item.Aida is very glamorous indeed she looks as though she could easily be a movie star. Naming your child Aida is a bit of a gamble surely? I remember a Carmen who looked distinctly like Hilda Baker – complete with plastic curlers. But in her case it has worked.
You can see pictures of my mosaics on my website: www.martincheekmosaics.com
The Barbados work is shown on page:
www.martincheekmosaics.com/html/barbados_floor.html

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