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A little corner of paradise in the outskirts of Limassol October 9, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Exhibitions Cyprus.
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In the small village of Fasoula, eight kilometres north of Limassol, lies one of the most unique and idyllic art galleries in Cyprus.

Built into the rocky hillside of a small mountain is sculptor Philippos Yiapanis’ Art Studio. But it is no ordinary gallery.

As you enter the garden through large white gates, there are marble sculptures on either side of the drive. When it gets dark, floodlights beam up at the sculptures, which in turn shed light on the rest of the garden.

Dotted around the beautiful landscape are Yiapanis’ sculptures, all positioned with precision and meaning. The sculptor has a story to tell for each and every creation. Adding to the serenity of the surroundings is a lake in the middle of the garden, complete with a fountain, fish and a frog called Louis.

But just when you start thinking it couldn’t get any better, you move past the pond and come across a small amphitheatre built within the garden, which is used solely for charity events; he call it “Small Salamis”. It is named after the historical Amphitheatre of Salamis in occupied Famagusta, Yiapanis’ town of origin and source of inspiration.

“Being from Famagusta and owning our own garden, I wanted to recreate my own,” he explains. “And when I decided to occupy myself solely with sculpturing, I thought I could create the garden and an area to exhibit my work. So I built the garden in the rear end of the studio, and in the front area I created this park to exhibit my work.”

Moving on to the studio, you experience the true talent of the Cypriot artist, who is evidently inspired by the female and phallic form. His work also features fish and birds. “Fish and birds have no boundaries and no borders. They’re free. Why can’t people be free?”

Made of bronze and marble, Yiapanis’ work is truly amazing. He is one of the 110 sculptors whose piece was chosen to represent the ‘Olympic Spirit’ in Beijing’s 2008 Games; an outstanding achievement, one would say. Well it is, unless you ask the Cyprus Olympic Committee, who rejected the sculptor’s same pieces two weeks before. Before the Cyprus Olympic Centre was recently initiated, the Committee announced a competition for creations inspiring the Olympic spirit.

“I presented three pieces, but they called me after a six weeks and told me they had been rejected.” He wasn’t deterred. “It turned out for the best in the end anyway, so I’m not bitter or upset,” the sculptor says matter-of-factly.

Two weeks later, Yiapanis saw a competition on the internet being run by the Olympic Committee of Beijing 2008, the Sculptures Art Committee and Jin Tai Art Museum with the subject: “The Olympic Spirit”.

“So I thought, seeing I already had work that was related to the Olympic spirit, I sent photographs of two sculptures, from all angles.”

A month later he received an email informing him that his sculpture had been among the 110 chosen, ‘excellent pieces’, out of 3,000 participations from 96 countries.

What’s more, the Beijing Committee asked him to hand over the rights, because the sculpture was going to be rebuilt on a gigantic scale, and placed in the square where the 2008 Olympic Stadium will be. Three replicas have also been made, which are going to be exhibited in galleries around the world.

Cyprus will hopefully be behind him during the Games, when the three best sculptures from the 110 excellent pieces will be awarded with gold, silver and bronze medals. So how did it all begin for Yiapanis?

“I studied shipbuilding, then I worked with computers. At 35, I decided that life was too short and you should do the thing that you love and you want. So I stopped everything and devoted myself to sculpturing professionally.”

The park took him nine years to build. Each sculpture he creates bares a collector’s number, which Yiapanis says never exceeds four replicas of the same sculpture. As he explained, for a sculpture to be considered a collector’s item, there can be no more than 12 replicas of it. In America that number is reduced to eight.

But Yiapanis says he never makes more than six copies of each piece. “I make three or four copies mostly; sometimes I only make one.”

And to make sure he is never tempted, he says he destroys the mould he uses for each piece after he is done. “It can be tempting to create another copy of a sculpture that is in demand. But I don’t work like that. My principles aren’t such.”

Placed strategically in front of ‘Small Salamis’, is a sculpture of the fertility symbol. When the amphitheatre is being used during August nights, the moon shines through the sculpture’s crevice and onto the amphitheatre.

As Yiapanis explained, the Ancient Greeks in Dionisia used it as a fertility symbol during the wine festival, because it is phallic. They believed it should be situated near temples and the sun light should come through the symbol onto the temple.

Women who were having trouble conceiving would light a candle and place it in the opening. Or they believed that if someone was ill and could fit through the opening, then he or she could be healed.

“It is positioned in such a way that when we have our August event (‘To Avgoustiatiko Fengari), the moonlight shines through the gap and onto the amphitheatre. We studied it very carefully.”

Yiapanis has a special exhibition running until October 11. Visit www.yiapanis-sculptor.com


Sea monster devours bickering Cypriots October 9, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Movies Life, Movies Life Greek.
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‘There’s your metaphor for all of our problems: arguing over a hat’

The first use of Cypriot dialect in a blockbuster took place in the recently released Pirates of the Caribbean 2: Dead Man’s Chest. The scene involved two pirates arguing over a hat in Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot dialect in a fishing boat out at sea.

Their bickering finally comes to an end when the mythical giant squid, the kraken, devours them and their the ship.

Jimmy Roussounis is a Greek Cypriot actor who played one of the pirates. He said in a recent interview, that he had auditioned in London and was chosen for the role along with the British actor of Turkish Cypriot descent Nej Adamson (best known for his role as Ali Osman in the BBC soap opera EastEnders), whom he had never met before.

“They picked us without even realising that we were both Cypriots. So we ended up going out together to St. Vincent Island in the West Indies to act in the scene.”

Roussounis, who heralds from the Paphos village of Pano Arodhes, said that in the scene he and Adamson were supposed to argue over who would wear the hat of Jack Sparrow (played by Johnny Depp).

After Sparrow’s hat is retrieved from the water, the two pirates bicker over it until they hear the rumblings of the kraken below, which is out to kill Jack Sparrow. A squabble ensues as the two hand the hat to each other but are sucked under as a massive jet of water erupts over where the boat once was. Roussounis and Adamson were not provided with the dialogue for the scene.

“I’m not really sure why they didn’t give us a script. They just asked us to improvise it,” Roussounis said, adding that the only condition was that they did not swear.

“So I suggested that, instead of speaking in Turkish or Greek or English with an accent, that he should do it in Turkish Cypriot dialect, which he learned from his mother, and I do it in Greek Cypriot dialect. And that’s what we did. We just made it up.”

The surprise dialogue has been noted by a number of viewers, some who have even translated some of the exchange on the internet.

Roussounis, who also acted in the Cypriot film Akamas, which aired in September in the ‘New Horizons’ section of the Venice Film Festival, said that he and Adamson weren’t sure that the director would keep the scene, but it was to their surprise.

“So you have a Greek Cypriot and a Turkish Cypriot arguing in the middle of nowhere, and this outside force swallows them and drags them into the sea. So there’s your metaphor for all of our problems: arguing over a hat,” Roussounis said. “That’s why we did it.”

Show Explores Concept of Displacement October 9, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Exhibitions Cyprus.
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de Swaan work exhibited in Cyprus gallery

Images by Hamilton College’s Lecturer in Art Sylvia de Swaan are included in a contemporary art exhibition, “In Transition” in Limassol, Cyprus, in October.

Sponsored by the Independent Museum of Contemporary Art and the Evagoras and Kathleen Lanitis Foundation, the exhibition focuses on immigration and displacement while “…searching for a contemporary perception of the realities and dilemmas which confront displaced people.”

Among the show’s images is de Swaan’s photograph titled “The War Game”. This work is part of her “Return” series of photographs retracing her family’s travels as refugees at the end of World War II.

Baghdatis hoping for a good night in Vienna October 9, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Tennis Squash.
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Marcos Baghdatis will face Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo of Spain in the first round of the BA-CA Tennis Trophy 2006 in Vienna tomorrow evening hoping to pick up plenty of points to boost his chances of making next month’s Masters Cup in Shanghai.

Should Baghdatis overcome Hidalgo he will face the winner from the match between the wild card holder Austrian Stefan Koubek and Denis Gremelmayr of Germany. The fourth-seeded Cypriot was forced to withdraw from the Thailand Open in Bangkok earlier this month due to a shoulder injury sustained prior to the tournament, and the recovery process prevented him from playing at the AIG Japan Open Tennis Championships in Tokyo which resulted in him relinquishing the eighth and final place in the standings for the Masters Cup.

Baghdatis missed out on race points and the American James Blake winning in Bangkok, the young Cypriot fell to ninth place with 369 points. Spaniard Tommy Robredo is currently seventh with 386 points, while the Argentinean David Nalbandian occupies the eight place with 370 points.

Nalbandian is also playing in Vienna this week and will face his compatriot Juan Ignacio Chela in his first round encounter. He could potentially meet Baghdatis in the final.

At the same time James Blake who is sixth in the race with 396 points is participating in the IF Stockholm Open. Croatian Mario Ancic in tenth place with 344 points and Tommy Robreto were eliminated in the quarter-finals in Tokyo on Friday afternoon.

Zidane among nominees for FIFPro Player of the Year October 9, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Football.
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Zinedine Zidane was among the nominations by his fellow professionals for 2006 player of the year despite finishing his career by head butting Marco Materazzi in the World Cup final.

Materazzi, the Italy defender whose insults provoked Zidane’s attack in the July 9 final in Berlin, was also nominated.

While Zidane went into retirement with a three-game suspension, Inter Milan’s Materazzi was banned for two games for the incident. Italy won the title on a penalty shootout after a 1-1 draw.

FIFPro, the organization that represents professional players worldwide, announced a list of 55 from its 43,000 members at its congress in Rio de Janeiro.

The winner and FIFPro’s team of the year will be announced at a gala evening in Athens, Greece, on November 6. Last year’s award went to Ronaldinho, who is among the 2006 nominations.

Irish President hails Cyprus after Euro qualifier rout October 9, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Football.
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Irish President Mary McAleese praised lowly Cyprus’s historic five-goal thumping of Ireland during an official visit aimed at strengthening relations between the two countries.

The first ever visit by an Irish President to Cyprus has been engulfed in football fever after Saturday’s shock 5-2 win, regarded as Cyprus’s best ever result and Ireland’s most embarrassing defeat.

Following official talks between McAleese and Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos, top of the agenda at the news conference was the result that shook European football.

“I thought you were brilliant. I thought Cyprus were absolutely stunning… it was very historic,” McAleese told reporters. “I think I’m right in saying, not in living memory have we been defeated so comprehensively… It’s really good to be here for an epoch-making night,” she added.

The Irish President kicked off her official Cyprus tour with the game at Nicosia’s GSP stadium which McAleese attended along with Papadopoulos. They were among an 8,000 crowd in which the majority were travelling Irish fans.

Asked what she thought of the Irish performance, McAleese answered diplomatically: “It wasn’t great was it now? We were outclassed on the night, you were two-and-a-half times better than us.”

However, McAleese voiced hope that Ireland could learn from the Cyprus experience and pick themselves up for the crucial home tie against Czech Republic on Wednesday.

Cyprus received a lot of criticism after going down 6-1 to Slovakia in their opening Euro 2008 Group D fixture. “Whatever happened to the Cypriot team (after Slovakia), I hope the same happens to the Irish team,” said McAleese.

Cyprus, placed 103 in the FIFA rankings, face Wales, who crashed 5-1 to Slovakia at the weekend, in Cardiff on Wednesday. Local Alithia newspaper summed up the mood in its headline on Monday: “It’s not a dream, it’s true, we beat Ireland 5-2.”

Aristotle Onassis > A Greek super rich legend October 9, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Events Greece, Arts Exhibitions Greece.
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Aristotle Onassis still fascinates the Greeks and the world around 
His rags to riches story is the stuff of legend, while his personal life could well be the script of an ancient Greek tragedy. One of modern Greece’s most famous sons, shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis built a vast empire over four decades with sheer determination, audacity and cunning entrepreneurial spirit.

He died bitter and lonely in 1975, a shadow of the man who claimed to rule the world, two years after his only son, Alexander, was killed in a mysterious plane crash, an Athens exhibition on the centenary of his birth shows.

A Greek refugee from the prosperous Ottoman city of Smyrna who made his first millions in Argentina in the 1920s, Onassis’s near-mythical life is depicted in hundreds of personal items, private photographs and paintings exhibited at the Benaki Museum.

His great wealth, his passionate affair with soprano Maria Callas, and his 1968 wedding to the widow of assassinated US president John F. Kennedy, all point to the strong-minded, and sometimes even ruthless, character of the most celebrated of Greek shipping magnates.

“He had an unparalleled determination. I would say he had an audacity no one else had,” exhibition curator Sofia Handaka said. “Onassis was a visionary who could see further into the future than any of his peers and that is reflected in his entrepreneurial success.”

The exhibition, which opened on Thursday, is staged by the Alexander Onassis Foundation, which the tycoon set up to keep his son’s name alive after he died in 1973.

“Onassis essentially died the day Alexander died,” Handaka said. “Whatever he had built until then meant nothing to him after this event.”

That included a fleet of oil tankers, the Olympic Airways carrier, a long list of prime real-estate from New York to Paris, a private Greek island and the most luxurious private yacht at the time named after his daughter Christina. It was on that yacht that he lavishly entertained the world’s rich and famous in the 1950s and 60s.

Rare pictures include British Prime Minister Winston Churchill casually chatting with Yugoslav leader Josip Broz Tito at the height of the Cold War on board the Christina.
“He must have been a real charmer, a man with a very special aura and talents,” said an elderly exhibition visitor. “But while everything about him is mythical, you feel that real happiness always eluded him.”

Handaka said the exhibits, from an array of ship models built by 18th century French prisoners in England used to decorate the corridors of the Christina, to the extravagant menu of his first dinner with Callas, aimed at presenting his multi-faceted character.

Several hunting guns and cigarette lighters in the shape of whaling canons speak of an aggressive, possessive man. The blood-stained handkerchief of his son the day he died tells more about what he lost in life than what he gained.

His only other child, Christina, who saw her father, brother and mother die in a period of just 24 months, passed away in Argentina in 1988, survived by her daughter Athina.

“He was a global ambassador for Greece and he carried his Greekness with him,” Handaka said. “In a single word, the man was unique.”