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A contemporary view April 15, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Exhibitions Cyprus.
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A multi-media, travelling exhibition questions what immigration and nationality mean

It’s crossings bring a group of Mediterranean artists together in a major, contemporary exhibition at the Municipal Arts Centre (‘Palia Electriki’) in Old Nicosia. The touring, multi-media show was first presented in Malta in the summer of 2006 and went on to University of Amiens in France. Nicosia is now the last stop, where it will be showing until May 20.

‘Crossings: A Contemporary View’ is the third action of the project, ‘Crossing: Movements of People and Movement of Cultures: Changes to the Mediterranean from Ancient to Modern Times’ led by the Pierides Foundation. The project has been organised within the framework of the EU programme, ‘Culture 2000’, and implemented with the participation of Cyprus, Greece, Malta, Italy and France. “The exhibition endeavours to bring together artists whose work contains the very idea of crossings in the world today, where cultural output is striving to achieve a dynamic but, at the same time, controversial role,” say the curators of the exhibition, Yiannis Toumazis and Androula Michael.

So what exactly can you set your sights on? Using mainly new media and technologies, the young artists involved in the project present their own experiences and understanding of interaction between cultures and people. Be it a sculpture, video installation, or intriguing picture, it’s all about stimulating the senses and making the viewer question everyday norms and situations.

Upon entering the exhibition hall, you could be forgiven for feeling you’ve entered a car boot sale. Here, French artist Didier Courbot displays all sorts of objects scattered on large cloths spread across the floor. From kitchen appliances to Christmas stockings, a disc-man, old tapes and model aeroplanes, it’s all there. Bazaars are places where immigrants often gather, where goods are exchanged and passed from the hands of one individual to another, where people come together, interact and often form bonds. For immigrants that have crossed boarders, a Sunday bazaar can be their meeting place.

‘Now as Before 2004’ is also particularly intriguing as Andreas Savva, an artist living and working in Greece, has chosen to exhibit black and white ‘before and after’ shots of occupied north Cyprus. An old man stands by an empty plot of land, and beneath this, my eyes fall on the same man as a teenager, arms wrapped around a friend. It’s the same plot of land, but this time, his family home forms the background of the image.

Another artist has chosen to set up a tent-like structure in what looks like a war zone. On the walls, large images of tanks give a disturbing feel. Clothes are scattered on the floor, The Island of Doctor Monroe remains unread, and scrawled inside the structure are words that talk of escape from the ‘rat’. This is the work of Phanos Kyriakou, an artist born and living in Cyprus.

Leave the war zone and enter a room playing a sentimental love song by Barbara Streisand. On the big screen is a couple holding each other tight and slow-dancing. This is actually a slow dance marathon recorded by local artist Christodoulos Panayiotou. The whole marathon lasted 24 hours, where strangers were invited to dance together, to cross a barrier and form a human chain.

While interaction and dialogue are the main axes of the exhibition, it’s also about national and individual identity, boundaries among people, the emblematic ‘other’ and finally, death, which comprises a common place of reconciliation for all humans.

The whole point is to encourage the mutual understanding of differences and similarities among European citizens, as well as people from other Mediterranean countries. “This exhibition aims at recording opinions, at listening, and tries to open a window to honest and frank meetings of both likes and opposites,” explain the curators.

And it leaves you with plenty of food for thought. The works are not there just to be looked at. They’re there for you interact with, to devour in your mind and to take back home in your thoughts. Some of them are even there for you to live in for a few brief moments. Make sure to enter the walk in cupboard that you can spend as much time in as you like.

Crossings: A Contemporary View > Major multi-media exhibition featuring various Mediterranean artists. Until May 20. Nicosia Municipal Arts Centre, Apostolou Varnava Street, old Nicosia. Closed Mondays. Tel: 22-797400. www.nimac.com.cy


The Cyprus Wine Competition 2007 April 15, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Food Cyprus, Wine And Spirits.
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Local Cypriot wines were recently awarded medals, but ultimately it’s the consumer that judges

The most common form of wine competition is when awards are given to wines in various categories on the basis of a blind tasting. That is, judges do not know the identity of the wines they are evaluating. The awards are frequently bronze, silver and gold, and sometimes double gold, medals. However, ribbons of various colours are also sometimes used. Such competitions tend to be organised by wineries, their trade associations or entrepreneurs. They are popular with producers because there are many winners and the medals are useful for marketing purposes. In Cyprus, the Wine Competition is organised by the Wine Products Council and supported by the Thessaloniki International Wine Competition under the aegis of the Ministry of Agriculture.

At the recent awards ceremony, other than the organisers, most of the wine producers and professionals in the vine-growing and wine sectors were present. The competition is becoming a well-established event, the main purpose of which is to foster and expand the culture of Cyprus wines, both at home and abroad. It also contributes to the development of wine knowledge.

So, who was involved in this year’s jury? First up, the repeat offenders: Dionisis Koukis, a wine journalist and an experienced international wine judge was again president; Nikos Manessis, a Greek wine journalist who lives in Switzerland and is author of The Illustrated Greek Wine Book; Oenologist Andreas Frangos representing the Ministry of Agriculture’s Oenological Department and Georgios Hadjistylianou, member of the Cyprus Sommelier Association. These judges were joined by newcomers Leonardo Montemiglio OIV (International Vine and Wine Office) representative and Jochen Erler, yet another wine journalist and International Wine judge.

Only 36 wines received medals. Concerning the type of wine, Red Dry (64) and White Dry (37) had the highest number of entries. There was a Grand gold medal awarded, somewhat surprisingly, to a medium dry rose, 13 gold and 22 silver medals. So much for the statistics.

Overall, it was a success and president of the organising committee and Director of the Wine Products Council, Dr Yiannakis Georgiades deserved the congratulations and encouragement to firmly establish the event. However, I would like to see more involvement in the organisation, and especially at the ceremony, of the Cyprus Sommelier Association and the Cyprus Chefs Association. Wine and food are inseparable and what an opportunity this is to have a wine tasting of the award winners accompanied by the creations of our Culinary Olympic team served by the professional sommeliers of Cyprus. This may draw more attention to and firmly establish this event in the calendars of connoisseurs and professionals alike. On a final note, I noticed some disappointed winemakers, lack of medals lets professionals down. Any competition results are not absolute and only general conclusions may be extracted. Lack of recognition may be attributed to the different mix of judges or even different vintages. The biggest judges, after all, are the consumers.

And the winners are >
Grand Gold Medal >
2006 Aes Ambelis medium dry rose
Gold Medal > 2002 Commandaria Saint Varnabas, SODAP
2005 Heritage KEO
2005 Moschatos Ayia Mavri Winery (Sweet Wine)
2004 Ktima KEO Cabernet Sauvignon and Lefkada
1997 Commandaria Saint John KEO
2003 oaked Cabernet Sauvignon Vlassides
2006 Ayioklima Constantinides Winery
2005 Mataro, Tsangarides Winery
2004 Ktima Hadjiantonas Shiraz
2006 Aphrodino Rose Domaine Nicolaides
1998 Commandaria Saint Nicholas ETKO
2005 Cabernet Sauvignon Tsangarides Winery
2004 Aes Ambelis Cabernet Sauvignon
Silver Medal > 2006 Muscat Ayia Mavri Winery
2004 Andesitis Kyperounda Winery
2001 Maratheftiko, Kolios Winery
2004 Vardalis Maratheftiko
2006 Mountain Vines Semillon SODAP
2005 Ayios Onoufrios K&K Winery Kathikas
2004 Cabernet Sauvignon Vlassides
2005 Petritis Kyperounda Winery
2004 Constantino Cabernet Sauvignon Costas Erimoudes
2004 Nelion Cabernet Sauvignon
2005 Ktima Argyride Saint Timon
2006 LOEL Maratheftiko
2006 Athina Xinisteri Costas Erimoudes
2003 Red Dry Domaine Nikolaide
2004 Vamvakada Tsiakkas Winery
2006 Island Vines Cyprus Whiten SODAP
2006 Yiaskouris Dry White
2002 Commandaria Alasia LOEL
2005 Tsiakkas Merlot
2006 Fikardos Alkisti Chardoannay
2006 Ktima Hadjiantona Chardonnay
2005 Panayidi Cabernet Sauvignon
Best Maratheftiko Award > 2005 Heritage KEO
Best Xinisteri Award > Ayioklima Constantinou

Glass fusion April 15, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Shopping.
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After working in an office for over 10 years, Christiana Kazeli gave it up to turn her hobby of glass fusing into her work. 

Glassmaking existed along the lagoons of Venice from as early as the 8th century and the art of blown glass has been widely-known and well admired for many centuries. Glass blowing by Murano artisans rose once again to prominence in the 19th century. By 1291, the glassmakers of the Venetian lagoon had distilled their knowledge into unique and proprietary production skills. In that year, the government of Venice banned glass furnaces from the central islands of Venice, relegating them to Murano. Most historians have assumed that the order resulted from a fear that the fires of the glass furnaces might create a tragic conflagration among the largely wooden structures of crowded Venice. However, it has been plausibly suggested that the move was made in order to isolate the master glassblowers and prevent them sharing their valuable glassmaking know-how with foreigners.

Unlike the Murano master glassblowers, who became virtual prisoners on Murano islands in the 13th century, insulated from any contacts who might divulge their production secrets to potential competitors abroad, modern-day Cypriot artist Christiana Kazeli has no qualms about sharing her secrets on glass fusing.

“For those not aware of the term glass fusing, it is the process of using a kiln to join together pieces of glass. If you apply heat to glass, it will soften. If you continue to apply heat, the glass will become more fluid and flow together. Two or more pieces of glass will stick or fuse to each other. The resulting fused glass piece will be solid,” she said. “In between the different glass layers, the artist can add different materials to create a pattern”.

Christiana likes to use aluminium, copper and bronze sheets or strings but also natural materials such as leaves. The bending and shaping of glass using the heat of a kiln can take many forms. Slumping is one form of manipulation where a mould is used to cause already fused glass to take on the shape of the mould. Other kinds of manipulation done with fusing techniques are “combing,” which uses a tool to distort the shape of the glass while still hot and “fire polishing,” which uses a kiln to heat the glass just enough to make it shiny and smooth. Ordinary window glass, called float glass by people in the field, can be used or special coloured glass like that used in stained glass work. It is inexpensive and widely available. It also works well in the kiln but care should be taken for compatibility.

When combining more than one different sheet of glass in a project the artist needs to make sure the selected glass is compatible. “Compatibility is essential as the different pieces of glass have to expand and contract at similar rates otherwise using incompatible glass may cause cracking or even shattering of the piece when it cools,” said Christiana.

She uses glass in several different shapes and sizes. “Frit” which is small irregularly shaped glass pieces, “Shards and confetti” which are slices of glass that are slightly thicker than a sheet of paper, “Noodles” which are thick, long threads of glass and a box full of other types. Glass powder’s role is to give colour to clear glass.

For the artist to get started, aside from the essential glass, the other most important item needed is a kiln. Kilns are available in sizes ranging from less than a cubic foot to big enough to fill a room. Christiana’s current kiln is a small electric one but on the day I spoke to her a much bigger kiln was delivered to a new workshop she is setting up in Pera Horio Nisou on the outskirts of Nicosia. “The capacity of the new kiln will make a huge difference in the production and the speed with which I can provide my wares to retail shops,” she said. Having a good knowledge of the technique of firing will reduce the likelihood of excessive bubbling of the glass and the artist, after many trials and errors, has reached the stage where she can voluntarily produce glassware with bubbles as she likes them to be part of her work.

Utilitarian, beautiful and intricate decorative objects are produced from glass fusing, often exhibiting complex new techniques. Some of the artworks that Christiana produces serve as platters in different sizes and colours, ashtrays, wall panels framed or not, free standing glass panels in a modern design, lamp shades, coasters in different designs and colour combinations, beautiful Christmas decorations in the shape of snow flakes, stars and trees to hang from the ceiling and breathtaking jewellery, which, according to the artist, “it is the most fiddly and time consuming of all”. The front door to her house features fused glass panels in a modern design. Her next project is a challenging piece of work. “I have to design and fire ten different triangular panels which I will have to assemble like a jigsaw puzzle into a big metal table frame to be used as a shop’s counter.”

For anyone that wishes to experiment with glass fusing, glass coasters are an excellent place to start. The design can be as simple or as elaborate as you would like. If you have experience with cutting glass, you can come up with a design that gives you the opportunity to show off your cutting skills. The artist even allowed me to try my hand at cutting float glass with a diamond saw. I made an incision but thought that nothing had happened. But then Christianna gave it a tap and the glass broke neatly into two.

Christiana worked for 12 years in an architect’s office but gave it up once she started taking lessons in glass fusing. “At first it was just a hobby that I enjoyed immensely. I soon realised the market demand for these items as most artefacts were imported and pricey. Now I fly to Athens every couple of months to buy the materials I need but also to attend to glass fusing lessons”.

Glass fusing has given her an outlet to express her creativity and energy. “I am at my happiest when I am working and knowing that I have the support of my husband and family I can spread my wings to new horizons.”

Contact Tel: 99 689331.

MIT-Cyprus program will focus on energy, environment, water April 15, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Education.
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Energy, environment and water are the focus of a new joint program between MIT and the Republic of Cyprus. The initiative will promote a high level of scientific research and education at a new University on Cyprus, which for millennia has been a crossroad of commerce, civilizations and cultures.

The Cyprus Institute Program for Energy, Environment and Water Resources (CEEW) is a new research and education program established at MIT’s Laboratory for Energy and the Environment (LFEE).

Its counterpart in Cyprus will be the Energy, Environment and Water Research Center (EEWRC) at the newly established Cyprus Institute (CyI), a university focused on undergraduate and graduate education and research in science, technology, arts and social sciences.

“The government of Cyprus is committed to turning the Cypriot economy into a knowledge-based economy and to rendering our island into a regional center of excellence for educational services,” said Tassos Papadopoulos, President of the Republic of Cyprus, in a speech at the Presidential Palace February 10. “The government’s target is to make available government funds for research, reaching the EU level of 1 percent of GDP by 2010, of course with a corresponding contribution of the private sector.”

Cyprus has been a member state of the European Union since 2004.

CyI is working on architectural plans for renovating a technical institute that is transitioning to a new location and building a new laboratory for EEWRC, the first of several centers to be housed at the new campus in Nicosia.

“Through shared postdoctoral researchers, joint research projects and a graduate fellows program at LFEE, the CEEW program will build collaborative research and educational opportunities for both institutes,” said Ernest J. Moniz, co-director of LFEE and director of the MIT Energy Initiative.

Joint efforts will include an annual international conference in Cyprus and Cyprus Fellows, a newly established fellowship program at LFEE for graduate students pursuing doctoral studies on energy science and technology, water resources and environmental issues.

The CEEW program will undertake research and education on issues of energy, environment and water from multiple technical and policy perspectives, concentrating on issues of relevance to Cyprus and the eastern Mediterranean. MIT’s LFEE and the Alliance for Global Sustainability (AGS) are collaborating on the initial phase of the program.

The initiatives are the work of the recently created Cyprus Research and Educational Foundation (CREF) and the Cyprus Research Promotion Foundation. In 2005 and 2006, AGS partnered with CREF to host international workshops on the implications of climate change for the eastern Mediterranean and on urban pollution.

Related Links > http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2007/cyprus.html

Cypriots help plant lake trees in England April 15, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Environment, Nature.
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Cypriot volunteers on an exchange visit have helped boost the tree population at a Lake District beauty spot.

The six foresters planted broadleaf saplings around Bassenthwaite as part of the nine-week skills-sharing visit. Last month a team of six foresters from the Lake District National Park Authority visited Cyprus to explore mountain and national park schemes.

The Lake District trip is being funded by the EU’s Leonardo da Vinci education and culture programme.

Martin Clark, scheme organiser, said: “We have already established firm links with the national park region of Cyprus, which includes the Troodos mountains, and hope this visit will encourage stronger ties on a whole range of similar projects.”

Related Links >


Greece, Russian energy company reach agreement April 15, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Energy.
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The Greek government and Gazprom, the Russian energy giant, reached a preliminary agreement on Wednesday to extend an existing natural gas supply contract to the year 2040.

The agreement was reached during a meeting between Greek Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas and Gazprom Chairman Alexei Miller. The two sides are expected to begin talks immediately with the aim of reaching a final agreement by the end of the year. Gazprom supplies 80 percent of Greece’s natural gas demands under a 1987 deal which terminates in 2016.

“We discussed the extension of the agreement to 2040 and confirmed the mutual will for the extension,” Sioufas told reporters.

He praised Gazprom’s credibility in supplying the country with natural gas, adding that their contracts were expected to expand to oil supplies as Gazprom had participated in the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline project.

Russia, Bulgaria and Greece signed the pipeline deal last month. The 280km pipeline will connect the Bulgarian Black Sea port of Burgas with the Greek port of Alexandroupolis in the northeastern Aegean and is expected to transport 35 million tons of crude oil per year with the possibility of increasing output to 50 million tons.

Natural gas consumption in Greece is growing strongly, rising by 35 percent from 2003 to 2006 to a total of 3.1 billion cubic meters, and is expected to surpass 6.5 billion cubic meters by 2010, Sioufas said.

Hellenic Dancers of New Jersey Celebrate 35th Anniversary April 15, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Greek Diaspora.
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Hellenic Dancers of New Jersey Celebrate 35th Anniversary > Gala dedicated to the memory of the Very Rev. Fr. Jim Chakalos, Co-Founder

The famous Hellenic Dancers of New Jersey will commemorate their 35th Anniversary with a gala celebration on Sunday, April 29, 2007, from 3 – 8 pm at the Pines Manor, 2085 Route 27, Edison, NJ.

The event is dedicated in memory of the organization’s Co-Founder, the Very Reverend Fr. Jim Chakalos, who passed away in September 2006. This event is funded in part by the Hellenic Dancers of New Jersey Inc., New Jersey State Council on the Arts, Department of State, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts, the New Jersey Historic Trust and the Coby Foundation Ltd.

Proceeds from this event will assist the Hellenic Dancers of New Jersey in continuing their mission of researching and performing the many regional folk dances of Greece, and perpetuating their Greek heritage in the American and Greek- American communities. All donations are tax deductible.

The Gala, which celebrates the 35 year history of the troupe, offers two exciting dance performances by the Hellenic Dancers of New Jersey, and over 100 alumni dancers who are returning to participate in this special event. The fist half of the presentation is dedicated to the Traditional Greek Village Wedding, based on the actual wedding of a alumni dancer’s family member in central Greece. Originally performed 20 years ago, the Traditional Greek Village Wedding will take audiences back to a simpler time when weddings occurred in the village square, and gifts consisted of wine and food for the reception, various types of fabric and livestock. The second half of the performance will highlight the Greek regions of Makedonia, Thrace, Pontos, Crete, Cyprus and the various Island groups, showcasing dances that are little seen outside of these areas. Music will be provided by DJ Pegasus, and the Golden Greeks II Express featuring Lazaros Paraskevas (vocals) and George Manioudakis (clarinet).

Throughout the evening, the Very Reverend Fr. Jim Chakalos will be honored and remembered through images and anecdotes. Since co-founding the dance troupe in 1972, Fr. Jim was extremely active in the organization until his passing in September 2006. He was not only co-founder and chairman of the board, but took an active role in the lives of the dancers by nurturing their continuing interest in Greek folkdance and their Greek heritage, and by encouraging a sense of family and friendship within the group.

Founded in 1972, the Hellenic Dancers of New Jersey is a group of young men and women, who are first, second, or third generation Greek-Americans, and are dedicated to perpetuating their heritage through enthusiastic performances of the regional folk dances of Greece. Under founders, Fr. Jim and Eleni Chakalos, over 300 dances, songs, and traditions from mainland Greece, its islands, Cyprus, and Asia Minor, have been preserved and passed on to two generations of Greek Americans.

This outstanding troupe is nationally recognized for its presentation of Greek traditions and has performed at the following events: Dukakis Presidential Rally; Inaugural Festivities for former President Ronald Reagan; Statue of Liberty Weekend Grand Finale; 20/20 ABC Television Program; Queens College of Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies Benefit; Odyseus Elytis Chair of Modern Greek Studies at Rutgers University Benefit; Union County College Folk Arts Festival; the NJ State Ethnic and Diversity Festival; for Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew upon his first official visit to New Jersey; and Greek Heritage Day with the Metrostars; Closing Ceremonies of the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece; and the 2006 Centennial Epiphany celebration in Tarpon Springs, FL.