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WAYSIDE ART IN EAST ANGLIA

SHAPES

AN INTRODUCTION TO  SHAPES

TO INTRODUCTION TO  PLANTS

TO INTRODUCTION TO SYMBOLS

Most examples of wayside art that feature shapes have mainly one shape in their design, such as a circle.  Often this is used repeatedly to make a pattern or a sense of rhythm.  Sometimes, though, many different shapes are included.  This church window at Banham in Norfolk, for example, uses circles, triangles, trefoils, quatrefoils and other shapes all in one design.

Another example of the use of many shapes can be seen in  Norwich Cathedral.  The floor of the Presbytery, designed by architect Sir Arthur Blomfield and laid in 1878, consists of pieces of different coloured stones that have been placed together to form a style of mosaic work reminiscent of Cosmatesque Art.

 

Cosmatesque Art

 

Cosmatesque Art is a term given to a particularly elaborate style of cutwork  set in stone that is made up of different coloured pieces of semi-precious stones, glass, granites and/or marbles, cut into triangles, squares and/or rectangles, and put together to create geometric, classic or naturalistic designs such as stars and whirling discs.  Cosmatesque Art is a relatively new term referring to work produced by any artisan who specialises in it.

 

It supersedes another term, Cosmati work, which was first coined by an Italian historian at the end of the eighteenth century.  This is a more specific term, referring to work produced by seven members of an Italian family during the early Middle Ages (among whom were two individuals called Cosmas) who collectively went  by that name - the Cosmati.  Centred around Rome and spanning four generations these craftsmen took their inspiration from both Byzantine and Islamic art (which was transmitted via southern Italy and Sicily), and created patterns for curved as well as flat surfaces.  The earliest date for work attributed to the Cosmati family is 1190, which was executed for a church at Fabieri by Lorenzo.  The other six members of the family known to have produced this kind of work were Jacopo the Elder, Jacopo the Younger, Cosimo, Luca, Adeodato and Giovanni.

For pictures and further details of other mosaics go to http://www.thejoyo fshards.co.uk/mosai csorguk/norwich

Cosmatesque Art has been applied mostly to ecclesiastical buildings, to cloisters, bell towers, nave floors, pulpits, tombs, bishops’ thrones and effigies.  It became very popular and spread beyond Italy, including England.  In 1268 Roman marble workers were summoned to Westminster Abbey to build and decorate monuments to Edward the Confessor and the family of Henry III.  Two Cosmatesque pavements set in Purbeck marble have survived there, one being the Great Pavement by the High Alter and the other in the Sanctuary.

For a list of websites devoted to Cosmati work, go to http://www.arte.it  and type in a search for Cosmati.

Below: Two adjacent buildings in the village of Quidenham in Norfolk which have strong geometrical shapes depicted on their outer walls.  The first picture is a private cottage and the picture below is the wall of the village hall that faces the lane.

These were originally a post-medieval timber-framed house that was re-modelled in the seventeenth century.  In the nineteenth century it was divided into two cottages, one of which was a blacksmith’s shop that later became the village post office.  The decorative patterning on the external walls that we see today, dating from the nineteenth century, is sham timber-framing.