December 5, 2010

The Arts Past and Present: Mosaics

Tags: History, Podcasts

Available on iTunes or OU Podcasts

Part of an introductory unit on art, this Open University series consists of 8 podcasts on Roman mosaics, focusing exclusively on those found at Brading Villa on the Isle of Wight in Britain. All episodes come with PDF transcripts. The series starts with two introductory podcasts (one audio and one video), followed by 5 video podcasts each of which examines a particular mosaic at the villa. The final episode is an audio only meta discussion on what the series was aiming to achieve. The 5 mosaic podcasts are all around 3 minutes long and 30MB in size (recorded at 320x240 resolution).

The series is presented by a classicist, archaeologist and a mosaic artist (sounds like the start of a joke). The episodes see them sitting or standing next to the mosaic they are about to discuss, with each bringing their own view on the context, story or construction of the artwork. The time the were made mosaics is never actually mentioned, but they do mention that the unique cockheaded man mosaic may be a caricature of the Emperor Gallus (his name meaning cockerel in Latin) - which dates it to the 3rd century AD. While the cockheaded man is not seen anywhere else, most of the mosaics depict common scenes found throughout the Roman world. The suggestion is that the artists had a pattern book or brochure from which clients selected their mosaics.

Only for people especially interested in mosaics.