first bi-communal enterprise
friend and I one fine October morning decided to make another visit to the
newly opened Visual Arts and Research Centre in Nicosia, the home of the Costas
and Rita Severis Foundation; we have been to the official opening in September but
most of the rooms with the famous collections of paintings and costumes were on
that evening closed so we were looking forward to make a proper visit. We were
lucky to meet Rita Severis there and she took us around the holy halls for
which we were extremely grateful.
many years I own one of her books ‘Travelling Artists in Cyprus 1700-1960’
which was published in 2000 and which is one of the important art history books
available in Cyprus.
would like to give some information about the author herself in order to
appreciate the proper research work she has done for her publications and the
Severis studied Philosophy at University College, London and Journalism at the
London School of Journalism, and History of Art (PhD) at Bristol University.
the link http://severis.org/en/publications you will find
her publications which are also available in the Shop at the CVAR.
the basis of her doctoral thesis with the History Art Department of the
University of Bristol, Rita Severis wrote the Travelling Artists. Her intensive
research for her collections of paintings, graphic work, books and costumes, as
she was telling us during our last visit took her on endless walks through villages
with visits to farms, plantations and private houses in order to find the
treasures that are today exhibited in the CVAR. It also meant researching in
the archives of universities and institutions for written statements, articles,
letters and photos that led to the establishment of the book and lately to the
opening of the CVAR.
is a historical picture book you enter when you start your tour through the
building, automatically and slowly led from one century page to the next interrupted
by a sort of mezzanine level where costumes and whole scenes of social and
military life are shown. The architecture, interior design and chronological
arrangements of the various levels and rooms are superbly executed with several
highlights such as the royal Room of Catarina Cornaro and the scene of pulling
down of the British flag for the last time – exactly this flag is kept there
are the graphic very detailed drawings of the ‘scholarly Consul Alexander
Drummond starting with 1715, there are early French and German travelling
artists such as Louis François Cassas and Ferdinand Bauer who sketched and
painted on long walks by foot with sometimes a very romantic mind, and who left
comments in writing which can be found in Rita’s book.
higher you get up, posters and caricatures and cartoons of a later decade are
shown, and finally on top, the present
is represented by paintings of our living Turkish and Greek Cypriot artists showing
Cyprus of their time such as our Emin Çizenel, Çevdet Çağdaş, Diamantis, Kissonergis and recently deceased
Englishman Brian Self, and many more.
we came down to the basement, overwhelmed with what we had been shown, we realised
that we have not really seen all of it, have not studied the various exhibits properly,
all those paintings and witnesses of the past, but you cannot digest the
impressions of just one visit easily; we sat down and relaxed for a while and
talked about it in the pleasant café in the courtyard.
must not forget to mention the Research Centre which we have been led through
and where there are over 5000 books on Cyprus, so if you are doing research on
any subject concerning Cyprus’ past then you may be helped here.
will be regular events and I will try to keep my readers informed but you can also
visit their website www.severis.org
have seen and understood nothing of Cyprus if you have not visited this new
Centre, it is a most important stone of the Cyprus Mosaic.