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.
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.
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.