Arts & Crafts

When I set out on my voyage to discover  my authentic Cyprus for “Androula’s Kitchen” I wanted to find out more than anything about art in Cyprus. I hadn’t been aware of much art culture apart from the amazingly decorated churches that display a fabulous array of icons and murals. These are well documented  and some, painted when Cyprus was part of the  Byzantine Empire, have Unesco  world heritage status. But what about non-ecclesiastic painting and art?  My trip to visit George Georghiadhes the master potter in Lemba led to my discovery of the Lemba school of Art founded by Stass Paraskos in 1969.

Stass Paraskos (family photograph)

Stass Paraskos (family photograph) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

He like a few of his artist predecessors travelled to the UK to study and ended up as Head of Painting in the Kent Institute of art and Design. The college is well established now, not only do students come from all corners of the world  to spend time in the beautiful climate of Cyprus to study but the college now encourages Cypriot students to apply. There is no precedent for this and I find it exciting that Cyprus is moving in this new direction and look forward to seeing what the young artists will produce. There are Cypriot students in the UK and elsewhere, of course, who return to Cyprus to live and work but it will take time for the appreciation of a contemporary art culture to develop as there is no previous experience to temper the acceptance and response.

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I also discovered on my journey, two artists I was unaware of before, who were practising  in the 1900′s, one Michael Kashalos is considered the father of contemporary  naive art. A contemporary of his Admantios Diamantis studied at the Royal Academy in London; I love his paintings depicting village life. Lefkosia boasts several galleries where art can be viewed, The State Gallery of Cypriot contemporary Art houses paintings by both these artists. Another gallery which has  recently been converted splendidly from an old power station, is The Municiple Art Centre. The Centre has a changing programme of exhibitions.The building was awarded the Europa Nostra award on completion. Like all good galleries it has a cafe restaurant.

The Municiple Art Gallery

The Municiple Art Gallery

On a visit to a friends house I noticed a beautiful print on her wall and asked who the artist was, she told me “Hambis o’ Haractis” or Hambis Tsangaris to call him by his proper name. I asked my cousin Androula if she knew of him and to my surprise and delight she showed me a folder of prints she had been given by the well-known artist printmaker. I absolutely loved his work and was keen to meet him, It was on my next visit I was fortunate enough to fulfil this ambition. The account of this visit is here. Printmaking is not a common art form in Cyprus but with the help of Hambis’ summer school, young Cypriot artists are becoming acquainted with it and recently a link has been formed with the Larnaca School of Art to enable their students to have instruction in printmaking.
In 2014 Nicosia saw the completion of the long awaited  Leventis Gallery after 8 years in the making. A very contemporary building designed by a firm of British architects to house the life long collection of the late Mr Anastassios Leventis housing over 800 works of art from around the world. There is a whole section on Cypriot artists as well as another by Greek artists and the final floor is devoted to impressionist painters of the 20th century. Please check out the links below for blogs relating to art.
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