Six traditional artisans stop their work for a while to look at the camera of the photographer Fanny Alexandropoulou and answer our questions.
Their words are few but their hands tell their story through their artistry and the materials they work on – marble, wood, iron, clay and thread.
Old arts, as old as mankind.
They passionately love their work and, like all genuine creators, they will all leave a strong imprint on the island.
My name is Vasilis Panteleos, I’m a carpenter. I learnt the craft from a carpenter here in the village in 1959, then I went to a school at Kos, then to Athens and then I came here and opened a shop. Wood is something alive and very beautiful. I make furniture but I also carve to create an art work. In the past there were no veneered things or replicas. Everything was made of wood and by hand. Now, they just screw, they don’t make furniture.
My name is Benetos Skiadas, I’m a folk artisan. I like tinkering with things. I always wanted to do something artistic. My regular job was fisherman. But I always made this or that. I collected all sorts of tools. I worked on the ships of the Goulandris family and there I learnt much from engineers. When electricity came to Paros, it was me who had the first welding. When I met my wife and I wanted to have a house on the island I first made a miniature of it and sent it to the builders to make the house exactly like the miniature -at the time I was on the ships. That’s how the idea of miniatures started. I made churches, small houses, wells, ships, all exact replicas down to the last detail. Then, Popi, my wife, had the idea for a museum. “We’ll put all your works in it, we’ll do something good for our island”, she told me. The result? Forty years of work. It took me one year to make the French ship and two years to make the church of Panagia Ekatontapiliani. My wife’s idea has paid off. Hundreds of people visit the museum every year and her memory always lives in it.
My name is Michalis Skordilis, I’m a blacksmith. I learnt the job from my father while still a small child. It’s hard work but if you start when you are still a child, you come to love it. The bellows and the anvil need a good eye and a steady hand. I make iron constructions, all made to order and difficult tools that are no longer on the market. Now we go back to them, the old things. Fire and iron are hard but this job as any other needs love and passion.
My name is Kostas Fifas, I’m a potter. I learnt the art from my uncle Yiannis Kidonieas, while playing here as a child and later in Athens, from Livanios. I settled at Paros in 1986 and since then I do this job. Since 1993, following the death of my aunt Virginia Kydonieos who was a painter and decorated the vessels using a unique technique, I run the shop by myself. It’s the oldest ceramic workshop at Paros, established in 1951.
My name is Marigoula Fyssilani, I’m a weaver. I learnt the craft from my mother Flora Anoussaki and an old weaver from Lefkes. I have been weaving systematically for five years now. Mine is the only loom left in the village. It is of solid wood, made in 1858. I weave handmade bags well-liked by women and now travelling all over the world. It is an artistic work. Each time, it gives you something new. However, my greatest pleasure is when I feel I do something good for my place.
Fokianos Emmanuel of Antonios
My name is Emmanuel Fokianos, I’m a stoneworker. I carve the stone and the marble. I started 25 years ago and I’m self-taught. Hidden in each stone there is a form I try to carve out. The more difficult the material, the better the artisan who will harness it and give it a form. A stone carver’s work is hard. But it is a beautiful art.