Mosaic is the art of creating pictures and patterns using small pieces of coloured glass, stone or other materials. The art may be used purely for decorative purposes in interior or exterior design or have cultural or spiritual significance as often found in religious buildings. Its origins date back over 4000 years, when terracotta or different coloured pebbles were used to create patterns.

However, it was the Greeks who turned mosaic into a true art form with carefully created patterns and pictures depicting scenes of people and animals. By 200 BC, precise pieces of mosaic were being manufactured, often so tiny that mosaics were almost like paintings. Many mosaics preserved today, such as those in Pompeii, are works by Greek artists. The Roman Empire spread the art of mosaics much further afield but the skill level of the Greeks was never achieved.

What was once a bare, grey concrete wall along the Artherstrasse in the Swiss town of Zug is now bright yellow and decorated with small mosaic pictures. The 179 works of art, each 12 x 12 cm, were created over a period of nine years by unemployed people as part of an employment programme to provide the jobless with a sense of self-esteem. Werner Koch, the graphic artist and mosaic specialist who led the programme, collected and kept the pictures in the hope of one day using them in some way for decoration. His idea has now born fruit. The rear of the wall is also decorated, with a mosaic of the metamorphosis of a caterpillar to a butterfly. “A symbol of the development that a person is able to make,” says Werner Koch.
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