Interview, Photo: Nikos Zappas
I had a passion for capturing the beauty of the Cyclades
Since I was a student I had a passion for capturing, through photography at first, the beauty of the Cycladic architectural austerity of both built and non-built areas with their dry-stone walls, the wine presses, the threshing floors and the nature’s unique biodiversity.
Mr Kavallis, you are a visual artist and interior designer. In the recent years you are known because of your company Kalligrammon which undertakes the planning, construction and restoration of houses. Which were the first incentives for your creative present?
Since I was a student I had a passion for capturing, through photography at first, the beauty of the Cycladic architectural austerity of both built and non-built areas with their dry-stone walls, the wine presses, the threshing floors and the nature’s unique biodiversity. I have saved in film or in digital form numerous settlements and monasteries in the Cyclades. Later, I had the good luck to be trusted by many people, mainly foreigners, who were sensitive enough to love all this and desired to live, even occasionally, in this environment and they entrusted me with making true their dream (which was my dream as well) – composing all this with the contemporary needs.
The residential question is a complicated issue at Paros, since intense house building brought about the emergence of new settlements. Which are the consequences and how can the special character of Paros be protected in this new environment?
In general, Paros has retained a satisfactory aesthetic level in the constructions. The new “settlements”, which have sprung up mostly as a sterile repetition of the same pattern frequently comprising ludicrous “neo-traditional” elements, have virtually stopped thanks to the current General Town Planning Scheme of Paros. The new challenge is to protect what has been left, by expanding the traditional settlements.
We should register and restore to their original form or even put into use the windmills, the numerous oil-presses at Lefkes and elsewhere, one or two wineries, one or two watermills. The neoclassic buildings, mainly of Parikia, must also be studied and registered. The municipality could help their owners through the Community Led Local Development Programme (CLLD) which was announced with great fanfare, a work team was set up and then it was immediately abandoned.
The airport is a life dream over which a battle has been raging for decades between its ardent supporters and its no less ardent opponents. What is your opinion?
There is no doubt that a new airport is absolutely necessary for the function of a society like that of Paros, for the needs of its inhabitants and its visitors as well. The examples of Mykonos and Santorini which offer facilities much better than those of Paros show that the question is not just getting people here. Then what?
An important issue for Paros, within the context of the present crisis, is a switch to productive activities, instead of the almost exclusive dedication to tourism. To what degree have we realized this?
Primary production should be the basis for all the rest. It is hopeful that we see young people with love for the land returning to farming. The plains are getting green with cereals, vegetables, legumes. I’m optimistic.
What advice would you give to the Mayor of Paros?
He should keep his feet firmly rooted on the earth of Paros and its people, listen to the greatness of this island, try to understand why the “PARION POLIS” was great and place it on the map again so that it can sail in the international horizon, taking us along on this journey.
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