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Thursday, 16 October 2014

A family visit to the Museum

Angeliki arranged for the family including Liz and Sophia, to see inside the Aristeidis Metallinos Museum one Wednesday morning
“My parent's house is full of children. Let me take you all for a coffee at Stamati’s after your visit” she suggested
Given the logistics, I was delighted we were all ready just before noon. At the door of the museum Angeliki let us in.
Liz and Sophia in the Aristeidis Metallinos museum
It was a short visit – maintaining the connection – but I learned a little more. Liz had never seen the place. She harboured ideas of 'naughty carvings'. I liked her reaction to the laic sculptor's sequence ‘from the history of women'. Aristeidis, without, so far as I know, a scintilla of reading about feminism, has traced, in five carvings, his view of a puzzling, but most definite path from beast of burden via male symbols made androgynous, breasted flightless cockerel, an intercontinental missile guided by its rider, to the power source – a fecund bud and breasts. Whence came these images? First stolid and grounded, then springing, soaring?
Aristeidis Metallinos, his gaze - 'from the history of woman' (1978)
Imagine them placed and lit by a skilled curator. There are more direct works...
Aristeidis' take on Eve and original sin 1982

Aristeidis Metallinos The Queen of the World 1983 (Cat 46) "who will bring peace and love to the world"
...but that sequence seems most original, sticking in my mind, ringing no bells of connection to similar images from other hands. Alexandra Moschovi has encouraged me to run these works beside events of the artist's time. Angeliki told me over coffee at Piatsa, that her grandfather, having taken a bus from Ano Korakiana to the city, went to watch films there. Some would, like The Saint of Preveza,  from a non-fiction novel by Spyros Karatzapherēs Σπύρος Καρατζαφέρηςbeen erotic and sexually explicit, while disappointing the eye of an audience seeking pornography.
Mark told me that there was also a drive-in cinema on the outskirts of the city which showed porn films, but these at the Oasis were films breaking rules of imposed and self-imposed censorship before and after the departure of the Colonels; in this case the director Dimitris Kollatos Δημήτρης Κολλάτος testing the limits then and now (see also)
"My grandfather went on his own, on the bus" said Angeliki
"Not with Eleni?"
"No he was a typical Greek man in that respect. His wife stayed at home, with the children, doing the cooking..." She smiled at this.
The family with Angeliki Metallinos (centre) at Piatsa the other day (photo: Stamatis Savannis)
Later Stamatis told me that in those days Ano Korakiana was served by more buses taking villagers and visitors in and out of the city.
"Many people from here would go there for the day, the evening. There was an open air cinema near Sa'Rocco called Oasis (Stamatis pronounced it with a short 'a' ... O- as - is). You could sit and have food and drink watching a film."
Later still Richard Pine told about the cinema in town. except that when i went there one of the Marks & Spencer staff told me the cinema was called 'The Palace'. Was there another nearby. Certainly the space inside the shop, which has been there 15 years, is large enough to suggest a spacious cinema where I could imagine Aristeidis Metallinos coming to watch films in the 1970s and 80s.
The Palace Cinema? The Oasis Cinema? Now Marks & Spencer near Sa'Rocco Square
But then I asked about the Oasis when I was buying at giros to take away from George's in Kontokali and he asking a customer found me someone who sais "No it's not the Palace. There was another cinema, open only in the summer, open air in Odos Marasli, which runs the town side of the British Cemetery and the Prison, off Mitropoulos Methodiou and Menekratous. I’ll stroll down there and make enquiries of men with grey hair.
I've been imagining the self-taught sculptor's anticipation on the bus from the village; the watching, perhaps discussion - or did he sit alone? And afterwards...reflection, as the bus wound back to his village, Aristeidis' already sketching on a split-open cigarette packet, itching to set-to on marble with chisel and mallet.
The Saint of Preveza

I asked Stamatis about reaction to the showing in the 1980s of the film about Stylianos Kornaros, the bishop who'd had a scandalous affair with the wife of another bishop.
"In the town there were demonstrations against the showing;" Stamatis told me "Priests and religious people protested."
There are churchmen the laic sculptor carved in high regard...
Makarios Μακάριος by Aristeidis Metallinos 1974 (Cat 7)

*** *** ***
Just caught the bus to Ano Korakiana - "€2 to the village please"
We’ve made ourselves car free; concentrating on the local circumference encourages walking. Amid rain I dropped off the car at the airport, unloaded my folding bicycle; scurried into town between downpours. Awaiting my 12.15 bus to the village I sat with a diplo skirto and a brandy beneath an awning. Rain washed the city, scouring gutters, clearing downpipes, sweeping the marble paving, pouring into bubbling drains. Waterlogged waist down, I sat with one other passenger on the green bus back to the village with a towel over my knees. One more day the rain continued. Mist occluded our space. Washing accumulated. Two evenings I lit our stove, to Lin’s protests. On the third afternoon a long margin crossed the sky – its precise cloudless side, ours for the rest of a hot drying afternoon. These salady October days have run for twelve days,  welcoming our mornings with bright slivers and sharp shadows, even as the evenings draw in, and I add a long-sleeve shirt over my daily T-shirt and shorts.
Walking below Ano Korakiana with my beloveds

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Simon Baddeley