Mosaic of Lost Socks feature recyclables as Art

mosaic festival israelMosaic artist Ruslan Sergeyev and the “My Wave” recycled ceramic art creation on Netanya promenade.  Festival includes a mosaic of lost socks. Photo by Igor Sarni

Israel’s eight-day Sukkot festival, now ongoing, often includes a number of motifs and local themes which give emphasis to projects that help preserve the environment. This year is no exception as an ongoing mosaic arts festival, Netanya Mosaic, is currently occurring in the coastal city, located 30 km north of Tel Aviv.

This festival said to be the first of its kind in Israel traces the development of the use of mosaics as an art form from ancient times until the present day. What is particularly interesting about this festival is that participating artists are using a number of recycled materials to create their art work, including  glass, ceramic tiles, wood, fabrics, paper, and even clothing articles, items which have often been noted in Green Prophet articles for creating both art forms and furniture from discarded and recycled items.

mosaic israelSergeyev at work

One of the participating artists, Belarus born Ruslan Sergeyev, has been creating very interesting three dimensional art forms using discarded glass and ceramic pieces that depict animals, people, and unusual objects that only he can relate to.

Sergeyev came to Israel in 1992 and began to create these art forms a few years later. These art forms are now seen all over Israel, as well as in locations like London, the US, St. Petersburg Russia, Paris; and Ravenna, Italy, often described as the mosaic art capital of the world.

From a recycling viewpoint, however, one of the more interesting ongoing art creations at this festival is a giant carpet being made from discarded socks.

The carpet, being made by community artists Anat and Ehud (Utti) Shamai will comprise 250 square meters when completed and made entirely out of discarded and “mismatched” socks that people often wind up with after matching ones get lost during wash days. Says Ant Shamai, when I met her during first day of the three day festival:

“We have been doing community art projects, using discarded and recyclable materials, for more than 30 years. The last large project we were involved in was in New Zealand, where we did a series of three projects in Auckland and Hamilton and the seaside town of Opotiki. Eighty percent of the inhabitants of this town are Maoris. We made two large “holy fish” from pieces of driftwood and had to first receive a blessing from the village Maori priest, which was held in a unique ceremony on the beach.

“While the ceremony was in progress, a nearby volcano blew out puffs of white smoke, and suddenly two large whales appeared. This phenomenon so excited the Maoris that they considered Utti and me to be ‘holy people,’ and this added to the entire experience.”

recycled socksEhud and Anat Shamai

After sorting out by color, the socks are tied in bunches of ten each and are now being woven into the carpet, which is designed with the symbol of the City of Netanya, a large white lily, as its center piece. Children and adults visiting the festival are encouraged to participate in the creation of this carpet which will be donated afterwards to the Netanya Municipality.

The Shamais want to do a similar project in Ravenna Italy. They have staged a number of local community art projects in Israel; including one that involved Palestinian children collecting discarded items on the beach and turning them into a mosaic.

“We are trying to break the Guinness Book of Records for the number of socks made into such an art work, which is also helping the environment”  says Utti Shamai.

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