My cousin Michael did a bit of scouting for me this week, he spotted an article in the Phileftherios paper, about a young designer Othonos Charalambous using Fythkiotika in his designs. He very kindly posted it to me and as it was all in Greek I cheated and looked him up online to find his website. My Greek is limited and although I can read Greek, it takes a lot of dictionary searching and time to get the meaning of articles.
This young designer is a Cypriot born in Cyprus but studied here in the UK and after gaining a Masters in menswear at the London college of Fashion has just launched his first full-scale collection. I was thrilled to read about this designer using such a traditional and well – loved weaving technique in his designs, through reading his short bio it’s clear he has great appreciation of the heritage and skill involved. http://www.othonascharalambous.com.
When researching online for ‘Androula’s Kitchen’ I came across a website called Phitiotika http://phitiotika.wordpress.com set up by two young British artists, Maura a weaver from Ireland and Sarah an artist. These two women felt great empathy for the weavers of Fyti the beautifully situated village high up on the hills near Paphos, a dwindling community like so many with no new generation coming along behind them to carry on their skills. Maura and Sarah set out on a quest to raise awareness and engagement in this dilemma. They worked in co-operation with the Laona Foundation http://www.conservation.org.cy to set up an umbrella association called Voufa under which the weavers could co-operate. Their greatest wish was to engage the interest of artists around the world as well as Cyprus and also to get a training scheme of some sort off the ground before these techniques become lost.
Fythkiotika is a well-known and well-loved weaving technique in Cyprus. In times, not that long ago, every woman would own a loom and know how to weave, this way of life has passed and will not return but there surely must still be young women who would like to learn these skills. The Handicraft Services in Nicosia have many weavers who practise this technique and teach so there is still a tentative continuation. It is refreshing to see a new generation of Cypriots taking an interest in these ancient skills wherein lies so much of the unique Cypriot identity. One of the ways to ensure the continuation of these skills is to find new ways of applying and promoting them. Bravo Othonos.