Conceived by acclaimed artist Clive van den Berg, and created by mosaic artists from SAA, the 18 x 3m mosaic artwork beautifies the wall of a Nando’s restaurant in Kings Cross London. Created in sections through a combination of direct mosaic and custom-made ceramic elements in SAA studio’s in Cape Town, Coming to the City was shipped to the UK and re-built panel-by-panel by a team of the world’s leading experts in mosaic in July 2011.
The mosaic artists have been nurtured by SAA – through a sponsored three-year employment-based training programme in professional mosaic. The goal of SAA is to efficiently build a sustainable new local industry by growing and using local arts to create original architectural signature works, such as Coming to the City, for installations around the world.
The idea of site-specificity was fundamental to both the concept and execution of Coming to the City. Van den Berg carefully analysed the characteristics of the London site. This included an investigation of the history and culture of King’s Cross as a central railway terminus opened in 1852. The experiences of the many thousands of people from different countries that have journeyed to London seemed to the artist to be inscribed in the architecture of the site. Their own personal histories and digitally aided communications with their home countries are translated through van den Berg’s use of map imagery and binary code (10101010).
Virtual visitors can view the artwork up-close through a dedicated website for the artwork: http://nandos.co.uk/comingtothecity/
This is what it took to build a 54sqm mosaic artwork:
* Ten mosaic artists worked for 9 months to complete the artwork, totalling 11,553 hours.
* The artwork measures 3m x 18m (9,8 ft x 59 ft) and weighs 2 tons (4400 lb).
* Materials used include natural sandstone, limestone, granite, pebbles, marble, semiprecious stones, glass ‘smalti’ tiles from Venice, Italy and hand crafted ceramic elements.
* The sandstone used originates from South African quarries.
* 80 % of the materials used were produced by the Spier Architectural Ceramic Studio.
* Detailed areas in the piece have an average of 40 000 stones per square metre (3700 per square foot).
* The mosaic piece incorporates of over 800 hues of colours.