By Anna Shepherd
British artist Judith Constantinou says ‘retirement’ is not a word in her vocabulary and is now beginning her eighth decade with an exhibition titled A Third Dimension.
We met in her Tala Studio where she welcomed me with a perfect frappe and assortment of Greek pastries. She’s quick to add that she hasn’t made them, but looking around her studio, one understands why – the walls are teeming with water-colours and acrylics, it’s hard to imagine she would find the time for anything else.
Born in Surrey, Judith studied at the Bartlett School of Architecture, London University graduating with Distinction. Her architect father was a major influence in the development of her artistic life – “I remember being taken with my friend to numerous galleries and exhibitions, which were always a source of colour and excitement.”
Each weekday afternoon, Judith’s studio is filled with students for a two-hour class. She considers formal education essential, explaining “if you understand the technical aspects of what you are doing, one can express oneself fully and easily. Although the classes are informal, there is a structure. By giving people the know-how and skills, they can progress to paint anything, giving them limitless possibilities. In the annual class exhibition, I’m always amazed by the progress – with the growing number of retirees with leisure time, I often have people who’ve never held a paint brush in their life, but who now have time and inspiration.”
Teaching has always been an integral part of her life and she laughingly adds, “I think that bossy people always lean towards this path! Painting is often a solitary exercise, so I cherish the class participation to balance my personal artistic time.”
I am curious about her move from painting to sculpture. “Although I’ve always had a pencil in my hand and loved drawing and sketching, I now wanted to explore a more three-dimensional approach and was excited to discover the world of carving and sculpture two years ago. I joined a workshop and was quickly addicted.”
Judith offers me a sneak preview of the exhibition which is wide-ranging. Her work is a combination of historical references – from the 4th Egyptian dynasty to Chinese motives as well as contemporary pieces inspired by the sea and landscape of Cyprus. I’m in awe of Judith’s diversity and output with her inspiration reflective of her deep interest in history as well as nature. She is very modest, but warm and eloquent with a delightful sense of humour.
“I actually began by making a small bird for my daughter’s garden, and my passion and excitement for the possibilities grew from there. This exhibition represents almost two years of work.”
Judith works in Y-tong which she describes as a magical concrete block. “It’s so versatile in its strength and yet easy to adapt and create and is also insect and termite proof.”
There are over 50 sculptures, which are all additionally treated to survive the weather conditions in Cyprus, so suitable for both inside and the garden. Judith is now not only regularly commissioned both for her paintings which hang in the USA, Japan, Singapore, South Africa and across Europe, but also for her sculptures.
Part of the proceeds will go towards the Tala Monastery Cats. “I’m full of admiration too for the wonderful and selfless work done by these few volunteers,” says Judith, quickly asking “Do you know they look after over 800 cats? I think those are very special people.”
A 3rd Dimension
Opening on September 28 at 6.30pm by horticulturist Patricia Jordan. The Studio, 4 Ayios Stephanos Street, Tala, Paphos. The exhibition will continue on Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 1pm. Tel: 99 722031