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Travellers to an antique land

By Alix Norman

‘My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!’

Lines from one of Shelley’s best-known works, entitled, of course, Ozymandius. First published in 1818, the sonnet was inspired by the British Museum’s acquisition of a large fragment of a statue of Rameses II (or Ozymandius, as the pharaoh is sometimes known). So it’s very fitting that while Shelley’s prosaic musings were instigated by an exhibition piece, today, an exhibition has been inspired by that very same poem. A poem that opens with the immortal lines: “I met a traveller from an antique land…”

Opening this Saturday in Lemba, Traveller to an Antique Land is a celebration of the 45 years of collaboration between the Cyprus College of Art in Paphos (where the exhibition will be held) and the University for the Creative Arts in England, whose visiting BA Fine Arts students will be hosting the event. Showcasing the work they have completed during their one-month residency here in Cyprus, the 12 students – funded in the venture by both the Erasmus+ programme and Grampus Heritage and Training Ltd – have all been working diligently to the title theme during their stay.

“The poem, and thus the exhibition, share the idea of the mystery of visiting an ancient culture for the first time,” explains Margaret Paraskos, Director of the Cyprus College of Art, who chose the theme. “I think ‘Traveller to an Antique Land’ truly evokes the feeling you get on visiting the island. And that’s really what has happened for these students: they’ve been inspired by the historical and mystical background of Cyprus. Being in Lemba,” she adds, “is particularly beneficial to creative people: it makes them think about all the things that have happened in the past, while exploring an entirely new environment and culture. It could be the colours, the ancient artefacts – you’re never quite sure what will be chosen as their subject matter!”

While the visit has included trips to a number of historical sites, such as the Tombs of the Kings and a variety of local museums, the students have also been greatly inspired by the village of Lemba itself. “There are all sorts of artworks, pieces and sculptures left here by previous artists,” says Margaret. “And the infamous ‘Lemba Lady’, the Chalcolithic figurine that graces our coins, was discovered in this area. So there’s a great deal of inspiration from which to draw.”

This isn’t the first time a group from the University of Creative Arts has visited Lemba by any means. Ever since the College was founded by the late Stass Paraskos – Margaret’s father – in 1979, groups of young artists have been journeying to the island to draw inspiration. “We have groups coming from the Canterbury campus of the University all the time,” she says, mentioning a recent visit from the architecture department. “And they’re always a very diverse bunch, with a real wealth of cosmopolitan experience. Over the last few weeks, the College has taken on a whole new life – buzzing with the creative atmosphere of people working both day and night.”

The ability to access the Lemba studios around the clock is something that clearly adds to the creative process: obviously the students can’t help but draw inspiration from such an artistic and innovative atmosphere. And though some may not have entirely completed their projects by the opening this Saturday (though they will be showing works in progress), many are already fine-tuning their finished pieces. Which means that this is an exhibition well worth visiting: not only will you get to see exciting new art – and artists – but you’ll also have the chance to take a look at the journey of inspiration instigated by our richly historical island.

“I think, if you’re interested in art, and in a whole group of young artists, Lemba is the place to come,” Margaret concludes. “And even people who aren’t as intrigued by such subjects will most likely be fascinated. To be honest, we get a lot of visitors to the College who merely intended to tick us off as a tourist destination before moving swiftly on. Then they discover the sculptures round the wall, the art in the village or one of our exhibitions, and are utterly astounded by what is being – and has been – produced by the wonderful artists who have visited us; the travellers to our antique land…”
Traveller to an Antique Land
Exhibition opens on Saturday, March 14 at 7pm to 9pm at the Cyprus College of Art in Lemba. It will run daily from 10am to 5pm until Wednesday, March 18. Entrance is free. For further details, including location map, visit www.artcyprus.org , email [email protected] or call Director Margaret Paraskos on 99 452 757

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