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Moulding tradition into art

By Maria Gregoriou

Starting today, the sculptor Nina Iakovou will be showcasing her new work in an exhibition entitled Clay – A Modern View of Tradition at Gallery Gloria in Nicosia.

Iakovou was one of the first Cypriots to take sculpture lessons at the School of Fine Arts in Athens, in the 1950s, where she studied under a number of prominent teachers in the field of Modern Greek Art at the time.

The artist herself has said: “I learned the art of sculpting from great Greek teachers in my field and Yioryi Georgiou, a professor of ceramics, who made sure I remained a student in his workshops during two very difficult times. The first was between 1953 and 1954 and then again in 1964 until 1965. I owe him everything.

During the same period I took sculpture lessons at the School of Fine Arts and learned about the art of some of the great Greek artists, such as Maria Tombrou.

The 1950s were very difficult for everyone in Cyprus. When I finished high school I had to work as a secretary and I also had to sell a plot of land next to my parents’ house in Famagusta before leaving for Athens. I stayed there just for an academic year, from 1953 to 1954. After that I returned to Cyprus and got married in 1956.”

She returned to the School of Fine Art for another year in 1964 with a scholarship from the Ministry of Education. Since then, she has been working professionally in the field of sculpture. She often collaborates with painter Zantho Hadzisotiriou.

Prior to the Turkish invasion in 1974, the artist’s work was located in different hotels in Famagusta and in private collections. After the invasion she moved to Larnaca, where she continues to be inspired by traditional pottery made in Famagusta and the pitchers called Koukoumares. She also incorporates her experiences from the invasion and being a refugee into her art, leading to a number of subjects and expressions to be moulded into her body of work.

Vassos Karageorghis, Professor of Archaeology at the University of Cyprus, says of the artist: “Nina is a great sculptor. Her work has an archaic touch, is filled with honesty and deeply felt emotions. It is modest, something that also characterises the personality of the artist. She is clearly a Greek sculpture, and more specifically a Cypriot one, who stands apart from the crowd of other Cypriot artists who have chosen the international path of art. Her many contributions to art over many years have remained stable and almost silent, it is about time she became widely known beyond the borders of our island.”

Although she has been creating sculptures for 60 years, she has only had two solo exhibitions. The first was at Gloria Gallery in 2002, and the second in 2005 when Iakovou’s work was displayed by the Cultural Services of Larnaca Municipality.

In 2013 she was part of an exhibition at the Cyprus Chamber of Fine Arts, as an honorary dedication to its first members and founders. She has also participated in numerous group exhibitions in Cyprus and Greece and has been giving lectures on ceramics in the Larnaca Municipality Gallery and in the Lyceum of Greek Women.

The exhibition will be opened by the director of the Leventis Municipal Museum of Nicosia, Dimitra Bakirtzi.

Clay – A Modern View of Tradition
Solo exhibition by Nina Iakovou. Opens November 18 at 7.30pm until December 2. Gallery Gloria, 3 Zinonos Sozou Street, Nicosia. Monday-Friday: 10.30pm-12.45pm and 5pm-8pm. Saturday: 10.30pm-12.45pm. Tel: 22-762605

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