In the 21st century however, British artist David Arnott is using them to celebrate a different kind of cult – that of celebrity, referencing subjects from the Rolling Stones lips logo to Her Majesty the Queen. His breath taking portraits are beautifully and meticulously constructed from thousands of mosaic fragments, each one hand cut, and some no bigger than a millimetre long. In his skilled and careful hands, this ancient artisan technique becomes a way of showing us some of the most familiar faces of our time in a completely new way, fragmented, luminous and yet dazzlingly authentic.
David devotes many hours of preparation to each composition, using photographs and sketches to perfect the detail he will require before he begins each project. When it is planned in meticulous detail, he sets about choosing and then hand cutting the pieces of mosaic for each elaborately conceived and fastidiously executed portrait.
He also researches the individual subject, spending hours listening to David Bowie or watching footage of Sophia Loren. Each mesmerising artwork represents an extraordinary homage to the particular legend, from musician to movie star, that he has chosen to portray. He is still very much present in each piece however, and his initials are always hidden somewhere within the tiles. David’s mosaics have made a massive impact in a highly exclusive market, where he has collaborated with celebrity designer Debbie Wingham on a series of ‘the most expensive objects’ including a mosaic roulette table. He has also undertaken some hugely impressive personal commissions for celebrity clients including the Kardashians and Steve Harris of Iron Maiden as well as for high ends brands such as Mercedes Benz, Gucci and Nike. He has completed work for the Royal British Legion several times, including official artwork for the WW1 centenary in 2018, and his unique mosaics are now in demand all over the world.