Artistic Twist to Traditional Crafts
The famous hand embroidered lace of Lefkara and Kato Drys villages has been given a new twist with intricate lace motif wall murals painted in the villages by an art and design student group visiting Cyprus as part of an Erasmus + programme.
Famous for the skilled practice of hand embroidered lace – included on the UNESCO Intangible World Heritage List – the mountainous Larnaka region villages Pano Lefkara and Kato Drys have been able to promote their cherished customs through a number of partnerships with groups from abroad that have resulted in almost 100 artworks being completed in the villages during the last 15 years.
The most recent group visiting this summer painted a 35-metre wall mural in Lefkara, which joins other impressive murals by previous groups, including two, grand 8-metre-high cross murals.
The students spend several months on the island each summer with Grampus Heritage & Training Limited – a non-profit organisation from the UK that focuses on culture, heritage, archaeology and the environment, and led by its Director Martin Clark. During this time they learn all about the crafts and customs of the villages and participate in various related activities as part of efforts to modernise traditional European crafts that are at risk of being lost in the digital era.
The students are guided on the traditional skills of making the 'Lefkaritika' lace pieces and mosaics by local artisan Panayiota Demetriou, and are also joined by several local artists and groups, including Peter Bird, Aylin Myumyunova, Phil Bird and Anna Bird Georghiou, who are all Lefkara-based.
The giant lace motif wall murals were painted on a wall by Agioi Anargyri and Agios Neophytos Chapel in Pano Lefkara - a painstaking task given the blistering summer temperatures that took 14 days and 30 litres of paint, but the results are stunning!
With the additional support of ΓιαΤα Λεύκαρα – a local volunteer group - Andronikos and Anogyron Squares have been transformed with mosaic and painted lace artworks which led to a huge project to restore the Old Olive Mill with the help of the Orthodox Church. The mill will become a creative space for showing art, performances and locally-inspired fashion.
The giant cross artwork in Kato Drys combines old table tops, chair seats and recycled metal and was the creation of Peter Bird. Also in Kato Drys, students completed lace patterns along the street behind Agios Charalambous church with Aylin Myumyunova repurposing the recycled church doors to create stunning icons of local revered saints.
Martin says of the projects: "As Europeans, we need to work together to secure a future for art and craft, which has world-wide recognition. The proud tradition of ‘Lefkaritika’ lace pieces must not be allowed to fade away. The local lacemakers (‘pleumistras’) need tangible support, such as incorporating the lace into fashion that goes beyond clothes, into street art and graphic design. As a group we initially started sewing dresses with students, but with the help of local ‘shakers and movers’ we have gone much further, adding modern twists on the tradition.’
Autumn is the perfect time to take a trip to the villages; enjoy a stroll and see the amazing art for yourself!