Albanian mosaic artist Saimir Strati has made it into the Guinness Book of World Record three times already. His last record dates back to September 2008, when he aimed to present the Mediterranean character of Albania through a large mosaic made up of 240 000 wine bottle corks on a building facade in Tirana. The artwork combines the sun, the sea, music, and the portrait of a boy with typical Mediterranean features. Strati installed the mosaic on an area of 100 square metres and worked on it for 27 days, 14 hours per day.
“I had the idea for this mosaic during one of my trips abroad, when someone asked me: What? Albania is situated in the Mediterranean basin?” Then I thought of creating something typical representing my country. I think that we should express ourselves and our identity by means of our culture”, Strati explains in an interview with Southeast Europe: People and Culture. He calls his mosaic simply “The Mediterranean” and has composed it with different elements belonging to the region, explaining that the wine corks “intensify its taste”.
With “The Mediterranean”, Strati has made it into the Guinness Book of World Records for the third time. He won his first record three years ago for a portrait of Leonardo Da Vinci, an eight square metres mosaic, made out of 500 kilograms of nails. A second entry followed in 2007 presenting a horse mosaic made of 1.5 million toothpicks.
Strati says he has been inspired by mosaics since he was a child. “I look at different things that attract my attention and think of turning them into mosaics”, says Strati. “I was especially inspired when I first visited the ruins of the ancient town of Apollonia. There I saw leftovers of antique mosaics. I find it really fascinating that some buildings only last about one hundred years, while some mosaics can resist time for more than 3000 years. They are just like the skeletons of dinosaurs.”
The wish to discover the secrets of these magnificent artefacts pushed him to study architecture books and then to create mosaics. In contrast to other artists, he uses antique techniques in creating them. “I wanted to prove that this technique still exists and survives in our times”, says Strati.
Ten years after his first mosaic, he introduced a whole set of mosaics in 2004, when he became a member of the British Association for Modern Mosaics. He reintroduced an antique style that was already 3000 years old but influenced by the current Zeitgeist. “In 3000 years, future generations will have a glimpse of our time, a proof for our existence,” Strati muses.