Paphos Re-visited

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My last post on this blog before I moved here was about Paphos in the throws of being restored/re-modelled, I expressed concerns about how it would look and how it would be executed. 2017 was the year Paphos represented Cyprus as a city of culture  in Europe and while the work was being carried out it was chaos  the roads were impossible to navigate in the centre and queues of traffic were everywhere. The pavements were non existent for pedestrians  with uneven surfaces everywhere and shopkeepers were frustrated and angry that their shops became inaccessible resulting in loss of trade and income. Many closed, we hoped temporarily but fears were this newly rejuvenated  part would end up a ghost town.

We are well into 2018 now and still it is not entirely finished but the work that has been done and I would say that is about 95% now, is better than I among many would have hoped for. The restoration on buildings has been sensitively carried out, the new blends excitingly with the old and many innovative ideas have been executed exceedingly well. I have posted just a few photos which illustrate this.

There has been a recent surge in murals which add a vibrant feel to the place these too are of excellent quality, every time I visit I see new examples. A new  and varied group of cafes has opened up attracting the young as well as some interesting artisan/boutique shops. Although some of the old shopkeepers have returned some just could not bear the loss of income and had to close.

 

We all hope the future will be bright for old Paphos and will watch its future development with interest.

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Friendship Through Art

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I had the great pleasure last week of meeting Sarah Zoutewella of Art Calling  for the first time.  She lives in Holland but was having a short break in the UK. We have got to know each other via our respective blogs, Sarah is an artist and among her many talents , paints soundboards on harpsichords, which is how I found her through the WordPress blog search. We met at Brighton station as she was staying in the Lewes area and had never visited Brighton before, she was very surprised at how large and sprawling a town it is. We meandered down the hill to the Museum, a favourite haunt of mine made all the more appealing because of the great little gallery cafe overlooking the furniture section below. We chatted amiably for an hour or so and got a bit more acquainted, it is a delight to meet someone with whom you know you have certain mutual interests. What an amazing tool the internet can be, to be able to chat to someone possibly on the other side of the world about stuff you like, and then meet them face to face.

Sarah was one of the very first people to buy my book when I first published and very generously wrote a great review which she posted on her blog, I was so touched by this thoughtfulness and when I met her I saw that this quiet contemplative energy shines out.

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Before we headed down to the seafront where Sarah wanted to enjoy the smell of the salty brine, we wandered into another cafe area in the Dome where she wanted to show me something. I was intrigued when the ‘something’ turned out to be some fabulous little crafted gifts. Sarah is an enthusiastic crafter, crocheting and making objects with her artistic skill. She carries these little hand-made gems with her on he travels to generously give to those she encounters who show helpfulness or kindness on her journey. I thought this was a wonderful idea and intend to adopt it as I think this small gesture can show the recipient how much you appreciate that kindness, it certainly made my day as I was the lucky recipient of three such gems which I will treasure. The little folding book I particularly like and I’m planning to dust off my batik wax pot  in the near future to make some abstract swirlings to cover some of my own little booklets. So it has served three purposes, a lovely reminder of our meeting, an inspiration for a  future  project as well as a spark of joy at receiving them. Thank you Sarah.

 

The Little Fish has Swum Back to the Pond

 World book fair

World book fair (Photo credit: Anks)

After the hustle and bustle of The London Book Fair last week I have come back to my comfort zone to reflect.

It was exactly as I thought it would be: very busy, very hot, very large and not particularly author friendly. But I found it valuable as the few conversations I had with some of the exhibitors, was constructive. I came away with a different perspective and the task of sharpening my focus on how I want to present “Androula’s Kitchen” to the world.

When I started collating and writing “Androula’s Kitchen – Cyprus on a Plate ” it was from my enthusiasm to find out bite size snippets of information about the cuisine and culture of the everyday. I revelled in gathering the information and the photos of course. My thoughts were ‘If this interests me then it must be of interest to others.” But what I never thought of doing was writing it from a publisher’s viewpoint of how to maximise its commerciality. I vaguely thought about where it would fit into the book shop categories. Is it a book on Arts & Crafts, Food or a journal? No, it’s all of these.

I’ve never exactly gone along with the main stream in life, I guess I’ve always been a bit of a rebel at heart and want to go my own way. Running true to form, I have come up with a book that doesn’t fit into a nice tidy slot.

When I came up with the “Cyprus on a Plate” part of the title  it wasn’t because I wanted to present it as a recipe book, although it does have some recipes in it. I wanted to give a ‘flavour’ of Cyprus not just its food but its culture. It doesn’t just have recipes it has information about the food. It give background and information on not just traditional weaving, basket making, pottery and The Arts  but on the contemporary. I’m proud of my little creation as you would expect but will anyone else want to buy it is the question? If so how am I going to tempt them to explore the content between the covers? I thought I could say “this is a meze of Cypriot culture from Arts & crafts to food. A feast for the eyes as well as the stomach” Does that sum it up do you think? Let me know.

Information

Information (Photo credit: heathbrandon)

Art & Food

Sicilian oranges

Image via Wikipedia

I have been following the 3 BBC programmes “Sicily Unpacked” with Italian chef Giorgio Locatelli and Andrew Graham-Dixon touring Sicily. While Andrew was  introducing Giorgio to some of the artistic treasures of Sicily, Giorgio was rustling up some Sicilian art of his own in the kitchen and I couldn’t have been happier to watch; these are my two favourite subjects after all, Food and Art.

As with the programme “Two Greedy Italians” last year, I was aware of strong echoes of subjects and themes that I  discuss in my book “Androula’s Kitchen”;  “Sicily Unpacked” even more so as art is discussed alongside the food. The programme certainly made you want to visit as the island seems full to brimming with some beautiful and ancient works of art. In the last episode particularly, as they visited two sculptures that I would love to see in the flesh: a very fluid almost whimsical figure of a possible satyr and a very ancient impressive sculpture of Demeter the goddess of fertility, with an elegantly spare face. The last has only recently returned to Sicily, after being missing for many years and has just been re-claimed back from America where it was discovered in a museum in California.

Demeter but not the re-claimed one

The pair also visited a photographer, Guiseppe Laoni who has been recording Sicilian life over five decades and whilst looking at some photos he took of a village wedding, Giorgio was reminiscing  back to his youth in his village when  the whole village was invited to a wedding. Of course this used to be the same custom in Cyprus and the photos could have been taken there. This is Mediterranean island culture. Of course Sicily was colonised by the Greeks around 750 BC and they remained for several centuries. Cyprus was ruled by the Venetians much later but retains traces of this both in the food and language.

The whole programme is a delight from visiting the wonderful tomato grower to the fabulously lush hillside vineyard full of butterflies. The scenery is beautiful the food looks mouthwatering and so is the art. Please check it out when you get the time.

Hambis o’ Haractis

I have been in Cyprus a week now and it has been a very busy time indeed as well as very hot and humid. It is a tad too hot for me and I don’t do as well as I used to in the heat and humidity but it is a few degrees cooler here down in Polis where I have come for some rest and relaxation. I have been to Larnaca, Nicosia and  Treis Elies, in the Troodos mountains, there it is the  most comfortable temperatures for me, where it is at least  ten degrees cooler than anywhere else.

Yesterday I was very fortunate to meet Hambis o’ Haractis the engraver-printmaker or to give him his proper name Hambis Tsangaris. My first introduction to his work was when on visiting a house with my sister-in-law Angela I saw a print of his on the wall which I thought was very beautiful and asked the owner who the artists was. She kindly wrote down his name and village for me and when I visited my cousin Androula later I asked her if she knew of him. Not only did she know of him she knew him very well and even had a collection of his prints which he had given her some years earlier. There was no time to organise a visit at that time but this visit Androula very kindly made arrangements for me to meet him at his house. So on my way from Larnaca to Polis I met her just after Limassol where she directed me to Platanisteia. Here we were welcomed into a beautifully relaxing garden on several levels with paving made from the local stone throughout and shade provided by lemon and pomegranate trees and a pergola covered in  gently perfumed jasmine shaded us while we chatted. Hambis comes from the Famagusta area and is a refugee after the Turkish invasion and now rents a house that is in an area that was exclusively Turkish before the invasion.

Hambis graciously welcomed us and showed us around the complex of buildings that house a museum of prints of all kinds through the ages, his own and other printmakers from around the world as well as the tools used. There is also a workshop of course and every year in August he holds a summer school for whoever wants to come and learn printmaking. He teaches the students free of charge in memory of his  Greek teacher and master printer A. Tassos.

Hambis started with wood cuts but he now prefers to do screenprints but has practised many forms of printmaking including lino cut, etching and lithograph. After his studies with Tassos in Greece he went to  The Sourikov  Institute in Moscow for six years to study Graphic Art with a special interest in printmaking. On his return to Cyprus he taught Graphic Art for many years until 2008. His works include many styles and subjects, including  illustrations of Cypriot life and folk traditions as well as the struggles of the people. He has exhibited in solo exhibitions around the world and produced several illustrated books one of which I am lucky enough to now own with many delightful images of goblins, it tells the folkloric tales of these little devils and their mischief-making.

 I really enjoyed my visit to meet this most interesting and gentle artist and learn of his work. 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.