Meet Michel Patrizio, Mosaic Artist

At 67 years old, the renowned mosaic artist Michel Patrizio shares, in all simplicity, the fruit of his 40 years of experience in Marseille's oldest workshop. Let’s look back on the singular career of this local boy, today one the profession’s most iconic figures.
By Mélissa Darré

Making mosaic is a vocation for you?

In the early twentieth century, mosaic was a respected profession, and more or less the exclusive preserve of Friuli Venezia Giulia, a small region in the northeast of Italy. My grandparents come from there, specifically from the town of Sequals, the birthplace of many prodigies in the field. At the time, one didn’t talk of mosaic but of "terraziere."

There were large movements of migration worldwide at that time. My grandfather Ettore came to Marseille in 1903, while others preferred to go to Nimes, Reims or Paris. Then within my family they continued to teach each other the craft, and it was passed down through the generations. Today, my daughters have taken up the baton.

Initially I thought about being a mechanic. But later, I rediscovered the artistic aspect of this profession and I haven’t stopped since. When I started in the 70s, everyone was focused on industrial mosaic, when I longed to bring decorative mosaic up to date. It has made me happy to create pieces that last.

A tip for any future mosaic artists?

Passion is essential: if you are not passionate, you won’t last long, because there are many constraints. Firstly because it’s a demanding and physically difficult trade. You can spend hours over a single piece. That's a lot of concentration, and it is not always easy to reconcile with family life.

Then, because today it is difficult to earn a living doing this job, without being part of a company benefiting from references and a client base. You must accept, initially, to have a second job to support yourself, treating mosaic as a sort of hobby, to satisfy your passion without thinking about the financial side.

Your most significant achievement?

All creations are beautiful, but some have more appeal to me either by the choice of subject, or the client himself. The most satisfying remains the bottom of the indoor pool of King Fahd of Saudi Arabia’s yacht from 1983, designed in the manner of a Persian carpet. It’s an exceptional piece created in a month in a shipyard in England.

The restoration of Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde – its mosaics are among the most beautiful of the late nineteenth century – also remains an unforgettable memory. These frescoes were made by Venetian craftsmen from the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region. So it was a sort of homecoming for me. It was very moving to restore the work of people from my hom

www.mosaiques-patrizio.com

Michel and his daughters Céline and Marjorie
Michel and his daughters Céline and Marjorie
Michel Patrizio shares the fruit of his 40 years of experience in Marseille's oldest workshop
© Michel Patrizio
The decorative mosaic
The decorative mosaic
"All creations are beautiful, but some have more appeal to me either by the choice of subject, or the client himself"
© Michel Patrizio
The restoration of Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde
The restoration of Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde
"The restoration of Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde – its mosaics are among the most beautiful of the late nineteenth century – also remains an unforgettable memory"
© Michel Patrizio

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