two stone mosaics
Two mosaics were commissioned by the new Samaj School, Langata in 2017. The new ENCOMPASSART studio in Karen Nairobi was asked to undertake this project. This picture shows the mosaics immediately after the installation in March 2018.
The designs were created by the studio’s international associate John Clark and accepted by the committee involved. The mosaics were made in Kerugoya by the mosaicist Githaka Karuri and his team.
The two planes of the new school building were foreseen as being a location for art works, specifically mosaics. Mosaics made from stone.
The large rectangular mosaic is 9 mts x 4 mts. The Left hand mosaic is in the shape of Kenya and is approx. 4.5 mts x 4 mts.
The artist was given a series of symbols and the wish that they and the elephant fountain located in the original school be incorporated into a design concept for a single mosaic. Details of the symbolism are included below.
Stone mosaic is a very time consuming and physical medium and one of the earliest art forms. These mosaics were made using offcuts, basically waste products of the marble and granite industry in Kenya. We are very grateful to Maruti Mining and Hi-Tec Granite for providing us with this raw material.
The request to create a second design including the words “EDUCATION FOR ENLIGHTENMENT”, came after the first design was completed. This design is a visualisation of the school motto.
The company Esteel Construction were instrumental in building the modernist Sacred Heart Cathedral in Kericho. A large stone mosaic was created for that building on the theme of the “Garden of Eden”. It was this mosaic that inspired Manu Bhudia to consider that this method would also be appropriate for the new school building.
The method is ancient and simple. The mosaics are made in the studio and assembled on site. Offcuts of stone, marble and granite, are sliced using a chisel hammer. These are then positioned and fixed on a mesh placed over the full scale drawing. the mesh with the applied mosaic is cut into manageable segments that are put together again during the installation on the prepared wall.
The Left hand mosaic
I like the idea of the fountain as it is suggestive of the water, symbolic knowledge in this case, being drawn up and passed down through generations.
The Om or Aum symbol
one of the most recognisable symbols of Hinduism, is representative of the totality of the universe. The sound is meant to be extended and vibrated, as pronouncing it properly involves moving through all possible vowel sounds. The three primary sounds involved also represent three of the primary deities in Hinduism - Brahma is A, Vishnu is U, and Shiva is M. As the three gods are actually aspects of a single god, the separated-yet-connected nature of the letters in Aum is symbolic of their interweaving. Therefore, Aum is a symbol of the universe in totality, with all its permutations and underlying facets. The visual symbol, known as omkara, is a very recognisable symbol of Hinduism as a whole. Technically, Om and Aum are separate in pronunciation, but the simpler Om is symbolically linked to the more complex Aum.
Garuda, in Hindu mythology, the bird (a kite or an eagle) and the vahana (mount) of the god Vishnu. In the Rigveda the sun is compared to a bird in its flight across the sky, and an eagle carries the ambrosial soma plant from heaven to earth.
Intelligence, 'Intelligence is the swiftest of birds
(Rig veda), He who understands has wings' (Pancavimca Brahmanan). Garuda is the bird of life, the sky, the sun, victory; it is Creator and destroyer of all, a vehicle of Vishnu and sometimes equated with the phoenix.
Symbol of Saraswati (Sanskrit: सरस्वती, Sarasvatī) is the Hindu goddess of knowledge, music, arts, wisdom and learning. Goddess of Wisdom, Saraswati is associated with the white Lotus.
The universe in the passive aspect of manifestation; the highest form or aspect of earth; the procreative power of the eternal substance; the mover on the face of the waters; the self-generative; the self-born, immortal and spiritual nature of man; the unfolding of all possibilities; eternal regeneration; superhuman origin; purity; beauty;
longevity; health; fame; fortune, especially for children.
It is also the solar matrix, the
throne of Brahma, born from the lotus.
The Self; Atman; cosmic creation; 'the progenitive power'; spirituality; wisdom; sanctity; the manifestation of Krishna,
Lord of Light.
Agni is born of the waters and the earth and is the pillar supporting all existence.
Varuna is controller of the waters.
the vehicle of the God Ganesha. The strength of sacred wisdom, prudence, kingly rank, invincible might, longevity, intelligence,
Indira, guardian of the east rides on the elephant Airavata.
The world is supported by elephants.
The Right Hand Mosaic.
The concept here is the range of study within the Samaj School and College.
The image is two children sitting on the lower stairs, each, reading a book.
Two older children ascending the stairs and two graduates at the top.
The whole composition is bound within the shape of Kenya, the three books in the foreground using the colours of the kenya flag.
The motto of the school is written in the center of the image. “EDUCATION FOR ENLIGHTENMENT”