A bit like the news readers these days are often doing I warn my readers now that I feel myself in a rather sombre, reflective mood and this post is a bit of a ramble and may not be as light-hearted in parts as is usual.
I recently read about a fascinating scientific study which has produced a genetic atlas. With the data gathered showing 95 discernible populations in the world, they then delved into which DNA markers make up each population. I found it surprising that both Hungarian and Romanian populations have a high percentage of Cypriot DNA and Cypriots, apart from the unsurprisingly high Greek DNA of 23% show at least 20% Italian as well, I guess those Venetians got around a bit! Here is the full article http://cyprus-mail.com
The world is a mixing pot. The British Isles are small but heavily populated, predominantly focused in the South and over recent years there have been outcries that we should curb immigration or sink under the hoards of foreigners who will bleed our benefits system. Speaking as half a foreigner myself I feel this somehow could be the beginning of a slippery slope. Britain in the past has been welcoming to peoples from other countries and I feel our culture is the richer for it. Particularly in times of strife and there sure is a lot of strife in the world at present, we should offer shelter. I was appalled that at the beginning of the Syrian conflict our present government refused to take in any refugees, after an outcry it changed its stance. What has the world come to when in times of trouble our country will not offer assistance to its fellow-man? In all cultures there are members of the indigenous population that are fearful of the outsider, stranger or xenous in Greek the root of the word xenophobia, the fear of foreigners. The word xenous is also given to mean guest as that is what they were when the world was smaller and a less fearful place.
I find myself becoming more and more despairing of the world presented to us on the news. I don’t honestly understand what all the killing is about and do the ones doing it know or is it some reflex action now? Have we learned nothing over the centuries? Take Syria for example half of its population has fled, most seem to have ended up in Lebanon, the rest could probably just carry on killing until there are only a handful left.
The New Leventis Art Gallery
Theodoros Vryzakis (1819-1878)
â Farewell at Sunionâ, 1863
Oil on canvas, 33.5 x 38.5 cm
So as solace I turn to more uplifting news and last week saw the opening of a very prestigious brand new art gallery in Lefkosia (Nicosia) The Leventis Gallery.This is the kind of development that brings joy to my heart. The award-winning British firm of architects, Fielden Clegg Bradley Studios won the competition to design this building with a remit to create a “new cultural centre that embodies the personality of the family collection and also contributes to the regeneration of Nicosia” No easy task but from the feedback I have received it seems they may have pulled it off. This very contemporary space uses vernacular materials and elements of design. Read their description here http://fcbstudios.com/work/view/leventis-art-gallery
The project has been the result of 7 years work by the Leventis Foundation to fulfil a long held ambition of the founder, the late Anastasios Leventis, to create an art gallery to house his vast collection of European and Greek art.
The name Leventis pops up on many occasions around the island as this wealthy businessman was a great philanthropist, one of the areas close to his heart was support for education and the cultural heritage of Cyprus. One of my favourite museums in Nicosia is the Leventis museum also a very contemporary space. Leventis lived abroad most of his life, like many Cypriots before him he had a great desire to improve his education and travelled to Bordeaux as a very young man to study commerce. He made his fortune in business and trading in West Africa where he built his own highly respected business empire. Although a great distance from Cyprus physically he was still emotionally connected to the island as his many generous acts of support are witness.
The gallery houses more than 800 works of art and these have been divided into three groupings, apart from the Western European art there is a large collection of works from Greek artists from the 19th and 20th century . A more recent collection of Cypriot art works are also displayed and one artist’s works that I will be particularly keen to see in the flesh, as it were, are those of Adamantios Diamantis a great observer of everyday life in his local villages. Born in 1900 he was a contemporary of Leventis, he studied at the Royal College of Art in London for a couple of years before returning to Cyprus to paint.
Ioannis Kissonergis (1889-1963)
‘Peasant in an ox-drawn cart’
Watercolor, 26.5 x 37 cm
Creation is what this world should be about not destruction, throughout the harrowing acts of war and violence music, literature and art bring us solace.
The gallery is open every day except Tuesday from 10.00 to 1700 and late on Wednesdays until 22.00 entrance fee is 2 euros and can be found in Leonidou Street.