In the Persian language, a ‘khan’ is an inn surrounding an inner courtyard where caravans of travellers stop for the night and get essential services. Khans were found throughout the Middle East, including in Pafos, where the complex that came to be known as Ibrahim’s Khan was built during the Ottoman era. The structure, built in 1860, provided stables for travelling animals on the ground floor and sleeping rooms for people upstairs; amenities included a coffee shop, a canteen, a grocery store, and a farrier’s shop for shoeing animals. Ibrahim’s Khan fell into disuse in the 1950s, but it has recently been reimagined as a cultural and arts centre. In anticipation of Pafos 2017: European Capital of Culture, the municipality worked with architects and builders to restore and adapt the stone structure. Now the former stables house workshops for artisans. Woodcarvers, jewellers, and manufacturers of carob and olive oil products are present; you can see them at work and buy their wares. In the centre of the courtyard is Honey, a restaurant serving regional cuisine. In the back of the complex, an outdoor performance area is sited next to the structure housing the Creative Writing Centre. Nearby is the Mosaic Experience, where you can take a four-hour class in the art every Thursday. Climb the central stairs (or take the elevator) and find a gallery for contemporary art. Once a place of hospitality for travellers, Ibrahim’s Khan is now a symbol of cultural diversity and a hub of creativity and community.
Most of us do it many times a day—passing over a threshold from one space to another. At times, though, this movement can have fateful consequences and serve as a metaphor for a major life change. An image of a threshold can evoke departure, exile, incarceration, liberation, hospitality, or shelter, to name just a few examples. On 19 October at 20:30, the exhibition ‘Thresholds of Life’ begins with an opening party in the Lobby of Almyra. To prepare the exhibition, artist Yiannis Sakellis invited people all over Cyprus to send him life stories along with pictures of them crossing thresholds. He then distributed the texts and images to 45 visual artists throughout the island and asked them to create works of art based on the materials. These works are presented in the exhibition. The show thus expands the notion of a group exhibition by engaging artists, audiences, and fellow citizens in a creative collaboration. Half of the proceeds from sales of the works will be donated to charities that help the homeless and displaced, further broadening the impact of the effort. The exhibition is being held in collaboration with the Kimonos Art Center, which offers public workshops in Pafos on such visual arts techniques as drawing, painting, printmaking, photography, animation, and video art. It is also part of the official 2019 celebration of ‘Third Paradise’, a global effort to find a balance between nature and artifice in human culture led by the Italian artist Michelangelo Pistoletto's ‘Cittadellarte’ Foundation. ‘Thresholds of Life’ continues through 11 November.
Cyprus is often referred to as the island of Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and beauty. This connection was established over many centuries. When the Achaean Greeks arrived in the 12th century BCE, the local population was worshipping a fertility goddess with oriental characteristics in certain temples; it seems that the Greeks ‘gradually Hellenised her’ over several centuries, according to archaeologist Jacqueline Karageorghis. The goddess was fully identified as Aphrodite by the 4th century BCE, and during the Hellenistic Period Pafos emerged as the principal place for worshipping her. You can visit the remains of the Temple of Aphrodite at Palaipafos, the site of the original settlement near Kouklia village (14 kilometres east of Pafos). Although the city was moved to what is now the Archaeological Site of Kato Pafos in the 3rd century BCE, the temple continued to draw pilgrims to honour the goddess well into the Roman era. Central to their veneration was a large conical stone, which is now on display in the museum at the temple site. Aphrodite came to be associated with sexuality as well as fertility and love. Through limited sources, historians conclude that the cultic worship included sacrifice, divination of the future, the burning of incense, and ritual bathing and prostitution. Emperor Theodosius banned pagan worship in the temples in 392 CE, but the connection between Cyprus and Aphrodite persists. Other related attractions include the nearby Petra tou Romiou (site of the goddess’s birth) and two in the Akamas—the Baths of Aphrodite and Fontana Amorosa, where she consorted with Adonis.
The series Eco Art features site-specific artworks that refer to the environment. The 2019 group exhibition entitled ‘Public Nature-Private Culture’ asks viewers to contemplate the interplay between natural geology, flora, and fauna and markers of human cultural expression. The site chosen is intriguing: a stone escarpment reveals caves and openings carved by man and occupied in various ways over the centuries. In the past, for example, some were used as burial chambers, while currently Christians have decorated the walls with icons for devotional purposes. Now artists invite you to look anew at the site as you view eight works along a labelled pathway. The first work, ‘Ephemeral Culture’, is a pallet of cat food bricks offered to the current residents—the cats. In ‘Tama and the Rose’, Miriam McConnon creates a lacy pattern out of rose-shaped linens on the floor of a shrine. Susan Vargas’s ‘Tablets’ is interactive: you are invited to inscribe your messages on seven wax tablets, paralleling the process by which Christian believers have made their devotional wishes public. The totemic wishing tree by Tim Bennett, ‘Wish Harder’, stands outside the chambers and uses manufactured materials (steel, paint, hula hoops) to create a biomorphic form. Rinos Stefani’s ‘Saint George and the Dragon’ features a large log resting on an abandoned building foundation and pierced by sawblades; it symbolises the Anthropocene, the era in earth’s history in which man came to dominate nature. ‘Public Nature-Private Culture’ is located next to St. George’s chapel. The exhibition continues through 31 December.
The traditional arts and crafts of Cyprus offer a wealth of techniques and a rich visual vocabulary to work with. Although many handicrafts have been produced in the same way from generation to generation, some contemporary artists and designers are reconsidering traditional arts with an eye toward rejuvenating or refurbishing them. The exhibition entitled ‘.CY: Alternative Traditional Art and Design’ gathers works by thirteen artists and three design teams at Almyra. Taking its name from the country extension for Cyprus in internet domain names, the exhibition focuses on the notion of Cypriot culture in the current moment. Artists in the show may approach common Cypriot concerns through modern techniques or, conversely, use traditional Cypriot techniques to approach issues outside the traditional frame of reference. They do not stay within the comfortable realm of folklore and or render familiar provincial scenery. Instead, these artists confront Cypriot traditions creatively, discovering new paths of inquiry and modes of expression. Their works explore (and celebrate) the multifaceted richness of Cypriot identity. The exhibition opens on 14 September at 20:30 with a reception in the Lobby. Curated by Yiannis Sakellis, the group show features artists and designers Christos Avraam, Michalis Argyrou, Elena Daniel, Stella Karagiorgi, Marios Konstantinidis, Charalambos Margaritis, Eleni Panayiotou, Christos Panayiotou, Charalambos Proestos, Marios Shiarlis, Christina Tsantekidou, Paris Christodoulou, Yiannis Sakellis, the design team ‘ΦΧΨ heritage design’, the team Retrovi, and the foundation Faneromenis70. The exhibition continues through 5 October.
Ouzo, the anise-flavoured aperitif, is typically mixed with water or ice and sipped over a leisurely dinner in an ouzerie, a kind of restaurant found throughout Greece and Cyprus that serves a sequence of small dishes known as meze. But ouzo can also be used in the preparation of cocktails. The Almyra Ouzo Special is one such example. The bartender begins by selecting a tall hurricane glass and filling it with ice. Then 5 cl of ouzo is added to the glass. As the ouzo comes into contact with the ice, the clear liquid emulsifies into a milky whiteness. Then comes hand-squeezed lemon juice and a healthy pour of lemon- and lime-flavoured soft drink. After a gentle stir, we add some rose cordial. This distinctively Cypriot beverage, based on the distillation of the damask rose, gives the milky ouzo a lovely pink glow. Then our cocktail is garnished with two slices of cucumber, a maraschino cherry, and a sprig of fresh mint. Sip it with a straw and you’ll find it fizzy and tangy—with the tartness of the citrus tangling with the sweetness of the rose and the bitterness of the anise. Bar manager Stavros Roumeliotis is concocting several new cocktails with ouzo as a base, and he plans to launch them at Almyra’s Ouzerie (where else?) in 2020. Watch this space for details. Meanwhile, stop by Almyra and check out the Almyra Ouzo Special at any one of our bars.