BY GLYN HUGHES
AS THE cars squeeze bumper-to-bumper and faces at the steering wheel grow longer and longer, and sadder too, and exhibitions,
even of top quality, take second place to florid invitations which are two a penny; consider the humble pot, still going since
1950BC and the great paintings of Andreas Charalambous turned to ashes, obliterated from our view.
Polly Tessler’s kiln
POLLY Tessler has been here in Cyprus on a Fulbright Grant, arriving on October 9, 2005 and is leaving soon, Sunday,
to be exact.
Although it has appeared I have been seeing Polly quite often at art openings without knowing who she was, it was only
when I popped in at the Artos Foundation that I discovered what exciting things she has been accomplishing.
A room at the back of the Foundation was full of pottery, samples, models and bowls of clay.
Quite extraordinary pots, fired in the way they would have been thousands of years ago As old as time and, in a strange
way, some appeared most contemporary.
Polly came here to participate in two projects. One was to teach art and archaeology to children from the north and the
south aged five years to seventeen. The second aim was to accomplish experimental archaeology with university professors,
students, artists and archaeologists.
The grant was from the Cypriot Fulbright Commission collaborating with the International School of Education in New York
City, where Polly is from.
She says she has been so very busy every second for the last 10 months. That very morning for example Polly started the
day by teaching English to a Buddhist monk from Sri Lanka.
Later in the day, she was working at the summer school AIGAIA, teaching three classes, and tomorrow the whole day would
be devoted to archeology.
After finding time to explain her work it was now 4pm at Artos, just after the extraordinary heavy rainfall last Wednesday.
The evening before we had both seen John Cadigan’s "People Say I’m Crazy" at a packed Artos and that very evening
I was attending the "cultural wake" outside Andreas Charalambous’ burnt out studio in the old town of Nicosia.
Who says the currently divided capital is dull?
Polly’s sponsor is CAARI - The Cyprus American Archaeological Research Institute - and on her arrival her first post
was assisting in teaching at the American International School.
That’s when I first saw her, when I opened their excellent summer show.
During her stay, Polly did some teaching in the north, neighbourhood classes at a village outside Kyrenia. The Turkish
Cypriot children would run down the street to meet her when she turned up to teach early in the morning. Aged from four to
twelve they happily painted, drew and made collages out of different coloured papers and s recycled paper.
On March 1 (was St David a potter too?) the first members of the international team of experimental archaeologists arrived.
They were: Beverly Fischer, expert kiln maker and ceramic artist; Eli Sheva Kamaisky, Head Curator of Israel Antiquities
Authority; Dr Daphne Zuckerman – Archaology and ceramic arts; Andreas Fassoulides, Cypriot kiln builder and ceramic
artist; Riza Tuncel, archeological professor at EMU (Eastern Mediterranean University); Eleni Hasak: expert on ceramic technology
who helped design the kiln; Professor Joanna Smith, of Colombia University (Polly’s Professor from New York City whom
Polly has worked with for three years in her laboratory.
The Project was to examine and to attempt to re-produce the ceramic technology of the Middle Bronze Age.
Two pottery wares were involved; the Morphou Bay Mottled Ware and the Red and Black Ware 1950BC to 1050BC.
Through the auspices of the geologists of Cyprus they went to collect clay from the river bed close to the sources of the
Middle Bronze Age production.
They were trying to answer questions about how the wares were produced, their density and so on, trying to create the ceramic
technology of that time.
All the different members helping at different times from the bi-communal community..
"We centered in Nicosia and we had everyone contributing," says Polly.
The kiln was made at CARRIE – its still there readers, in the garden, do go and see it.
"Pottery was made out of these clays they found and we tried to reproduce the Middle Bronze Age firing conditions," she
The kiln was based on the research of Heleni Hasaki, who has a model of a kiln from the Mediterranean region during the
Middle Bronze Age.
During the firing, they controlled the rise in temperature, the oxidation and reduction. It was all ready by April 15,
People from the community made pottery for the kiln firing and came to see the firings and the results of the experiments.
You cannot leave the kiln once the firing is under way.
Polly is pleased to announce that they had satisfactory results from their two firings.
Andreas Charalambous and the fire
ANDREAS was away in Berlin at the time of the fire that razed his studio.
His paintings, books, theatre work, everything in fact blazed away at Korai Street inside the walls of Nicosia.
A total loss.
Andreas, the best Cypriot painter of his generation will survive and start painting again you be sure.
THE outstanding Landscape of Cyprus in Water Colours exhibition, by Andreas Philippou, at the Bank of Cyprus Cultural Foundation,
closes tomorrow. There is a magnificent book, too.
Maria Perando’s superb exhibition at Diatopos closes tomorrow, as well
Last chance for the Helios School exhibition, at Argo. Closes tomorrow.
Kypriaki Gonia has five artists exhibiting. Until the 20th of the month.
Apocalypse has an interesting summer show throughout the whole summer. Polis Chrysachos until today July 16 at Gallery
Andriana Kyriaki (photography ) and Marianna Tsangarou (painting) tonight at Artos.
Keith Walker, at Art CafE, Lasa Village.