Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Mosaic Arts Draws From Ancient Tradition

Mosaic artist takes life one piece at a timeDust from centuries-old stones seems to have settled for good inside the crevices of Pippa Murray's hands.

As a mosaic artist, she has chiseled, cut, polished and set countless tiles and stones, from Greece to San Francisco and back again. Most recently, the 29-year-old finished an 800-square-foot mosaic floor for the Bay Area Discovery Museum in Sausalito. "The Gathering Place," as it is aptly called, serves as an outdoor meeting and performance venue for the museum's new "Lookout Cove," a 2.5-acre exhibition and children's playground inspired by the nearby San Francisco Bay and Pacific Ocean. An ode to Bay Area ecology and history, the permanent installation depicts a sun, an octopus and other sea life. Two years in the making, the piece was put together from stones from across the globe: Carrara marble from Italy, blue stone (flagstone) from New Hampshire as well as local finds.

Murray was born in Bloomington, Ind., and grew up in South Salem, N.Y. The daughter of an Irish mother and a father who is an English architectural and art historian, and professor at Columbia University, she studied visual arts and art history at Columbia, with an emphasis on sculpture and print making. Murray went on to earn a master's in classical archaeology from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, where she studied Greco-Roman mosaic technique and design.