Ayia Napa Mayor Christos Zanettou said he hoped the refugee stamp would soon be replaced with a peace stamp, during the inauguration of an exhibition at the centre of Sefer studies.

Prosfigosimo, depicting an engraved woodcut by a Greek artist, is a symbol of refugeeism and the uprooting from ancestral homes, the mayor said in his address on Friday evening.

“For 49 years a tearful child, curled up in front of the barbaric barbed wire fence of shame has accompanied every parcel we send through the Post Offices in and outside Cyprus while sending to the whole world the message of the ‘Nightmare’ that appeared and the ‘Medes’ that crossed the 20th of July 1974 bloodying the sacred soil of our homeland,” he said.

The Municipality of Ayia Napa, he added, with initiatives and various actions aims to inform all visitors about the national problem and “keep the flame of return” alive.

Zannetou then congratulated the curator of the exhibition, art historian Maria Paphitis for the initiative to launch a tour of exhibitions dedicated to the refugee stamp and make its history known to those who do not know it.

For her part, Paphitis thanked the mayor for the enthusiasm with which he embraced the exhibition as well as the competent officials of the municipality for their help and made an extensive reference to the works and artists participating.

The exhibition on the story of the refugee stamp is the main part of the larger exhibition hosted by the House of Representatives last spring in the capital.

The showcase highlights the journey of the Cyprus refugee stamp, which came into use in September of 1974 and follows its initiation, artwork, reasoning and significance today. Split into four sections, the exhibition dives into the history of the stamp and all the stages it went through, leading to the one that circulates today. Section one presents the circumstances under which the refugee stamp emerged.

The second part highlights the central artwork of Prosfigosimo, the engraved woodcut by the Greek artist A.Tassos that makes up the stamp today. The third part focuses on the influence this engraving had on the artistic production of Cyprus while the last section of the exhibition is dedicated to the enclosed area of Famagusta.

It includes works by important Cypriot artists, past and present, created in response to the Turkish invasion and the violent segregation imposed by the barbed wire, such as Telemachou Kanthou, Giorgos Skotinos, Lefteris Ekonomou, Andreas Ladommatos, Giorgos Gavriel, Lia Lapithis, Andreas Nikolaou, Panagiotis Pasanta, Elina Theodotou, Marios Theofilidis, as well as photographs by George Pantazis and Katia Christodoulou.

The exhibition will remain open until Saturday, September 30 2023.