By Peter Stevenson
A FOUR-METRE tall bronze statue of the Goddess Aphrodite will be built by sculptor and artist Pavlos Angelos Kouyioumdjis and placed on a rock in the sea in the Kato Paphos area, Mayor Savvas Vergas announced yesterday.
The funding for the statue will come from a group of expatriates from Canada, the USA and Europe. Paphos Municipality will cover the transporting and set-up costs of the piece of art.
The mayor could not give an estimate of the cost of the statue as the project is still in its early stages.
In 2003 then Tourism Minster George Lillikas pulled the plug on a different Aphrodite project, the controversial plan for a giant statue and theme park, which had been so close to the heart of his predecessor Nicos Rolandis.
The new project is considerably smaller and more modest.
Lillikas said he was not tied to completing the project initiated by Rolandis. The £50 (€85) million project was the brainchild of UK-based Cypriot architect and designer Xanthos Menelaou and a group of financial backers.
First sketches showed Aphrodite in a 100-foot statue based on the Botticelli impression of the Goddess, poised atop a structure shaped like waves, within which the theme park would be constructed.
Although Rolandis was one of the biggest supporters of the plan, artists and environmentalists branded published photographs as ‘ugly’, and reminiscent of Hollywood and Las Vega kitsch. One artist said it looked like a cake.
The Chamber of Fine Arts (EKATE) said the idea of a Statue of Liberty sized goddess of love as “base, barbaric, morbid, bizarre, provocative, flashy, grotesque, monstrous, out of proportion, over the top, tacky, cheap, pointless and offensive”.
Rolandis had told the Cyprus Mail at the time that it was a pity the project would not go ahead but said it was Lillikas’ decision.
“As far we as we were concerned it was a great project for the tourism of Cyprus and a point of reference in the eastern Mediterranean,” he said.
Rolandis said the architect and his backers had gone as far as choosing a site for the project in the Paphos area, where local authorities had also been keen.
“The whole thing was wrapped up and ready to be sent to the cabinet for final go,” he said.
During a meeting yesterday, Vergas also mentioned that putting on this year’s Paphos Aphrodite Festival was a big risk in light of the financial problems faced by the municipality.
The festival will take place on September 6, 7 and 8 and will open with the popular, romantic, comic opera L’Elisir d’Amore (The Elixir of Love) by Italian composer Gaetano Donizetti.
The mayor said that preparations were in their final stages and there had been an increase in the number of tickets purchased.
President Nicos Anastasiades will attend the festival’s inauguration along with mayors of cities twinned with the Paphos municipality and other government officials.
Vergas added that students and unemployed people would have the chance to watch the Opera’s final rehearsal next Thursday for free.
Also discussed yesterday was a decision to give more to time a group of Muslims to dismantle their makeshift places of worship in Kato Paphos.
“Paphos will be the cultural capital of 2017 and must show the required respect to places of worship of other religions,” he said.Savvas Vergas,