By Heidi Trautmann
“….We are the children of this old world of Cypriot
tales with all its superstitions and prejudices, but also of its innocence,” a
concluding comment made by Hambis Tsangaris, Greek Cypriot printmaker in a
synopsis of his work and life.
The Printmaking Museum in Platanissia is unique in
Cyprus. I have heard of it by friend and ceramic artist Pembe Gaziler who had
once taken part in one of the workshops held by Hambis. She is full of praise
of Hambis known all over the island. I like the art form and have done lino
cuts myself, so I decided to go there and visit the museum, i.e. in the end we
were a group of five, my husband, our friend Aydin Mehmet Ali, writer, and Bill
Macfarlane, writer, and an English friend of his.
I looked for the place on the map of Cyprus and found
the village west of Limassol, a former Turkish Cypriot village high up in the
hills. Coming from Limassol towards Paphos you will turn left to the north – on
the vertical line to Pissouri in the south of the highway – and you go on and
on uphills. The village is being renovated and so far inhabited by 40
people….and in the centre of it the compound of the museum. Hambis has done a
marvelous job of it, several ruined houses rebuilt into a living area, the
museum, school and exhibition hall including a lovely garden combining it all.
Unfortunately we have not met Hambis himself but the charming French Hélène
Reeb who made the guide for us.
The museum was opened on 30 August 2008. The main
concern was to teach the art of printmaking by entertaining educational
programmes, workshops and exhibitions. In the three exhibition rooms are more
than 200 prints some dating back to the 16th century, among those are
works originating from China, France, Russia, Switzerland, Croatia, Mexico,
Australia, Germany, England, Italy, Greece, Turkey and Cyprus. I was amazed by
the richness of the displayed pieces,
including old books under glass in cabinets, tools used for the different
printmaking techniques and along with it the presses used for them. Samples are
shown how for example a multi colour lino cut is done; or wood cutting and block
Hambis was born in Kondea, today Türkmenköy, northwest
of Famagusta, in 1947. He learnt printmaking from famous printmaker A. Tassos
in Athens in 1971 and studied graphic arts in Moscow. His artistic aim was to
promote his country Cyprus, its beauty, sufferings, history and
traditions. He has illustrated and
published several books ‘Spanos and the fourty dragons’ (1986, 1991, 2010);
‘The Prince of Venice’ (1994, 2011); ‘Hambis – 25 years of printmaking’ (1995);
‘The Fey Enchantress – Anerada’ (1999, 2010); ‘The Kaligangiari and the game’
(2005); ‘Kaligangiari – Cypriot Tales’ (2006); Kaligangiari – Tales in the
Cyprus Dialect’ (2007) as well as books by Cypriot artists.
Having seen the school room where the prints are hung
to dry on a washing line and the friendly atmosphere, the many books in the
library, and the alu cups over the door for the students, awakens the wish in
me to spend some time here doing some work, to be with likeminded and exchange
ideas; to sit in the exciting garden full of little adventures, monoliths
erected, a tower of big stones on top of each other, sort of threaded on a
metal pole, small niches to sit, fire places to enjoy a piece of meat and some wine. There is also a small
amphitheatre where poems could be recited or performances be done. A cultural
meeting place in the broad sense, from creating, executing, talking, enjoying
and playing; that would be a great time. I’ll think of it.
The Museum is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays; please
check website www.hambisprintmakingcenter.org.cy for more details, visiting
hours, workshops and other activities.