School project: recycled materials


Ages 17-18 (Third year of Lyceum)

Sping has been super busy -as usual- full of projects, paperwork as well as the Easter break. Catching up just as it is about to expire, here is one of the things that has kept us busy: a project we had been working with in my class of seniors (17-18 yrs).

Our piece began as an attempt to cut down costs: we couldn’t afford supplies, but wanted something large and three-dimensional. Using recycled materials isn’t just better for the earth, it’s cheap, and the materials are readily available.

Drawing from previous experience, we came up with the idea of creating animals out of plastic bottles and papier mache. We were given the subject “Bridging Cultures”,  for which horses and their relationship to humankind seemed the obvious leap (no pun intended). Gradually we thought of a board to anchor the pieces to, so the idea of a modified chessboard came about, with horses form Art History painted in the squares. We kept the pieces to a minimum, with a castle (or rook), a pawn and a queen.


The art history influences were: cave paintings, pottery from the Archaic period in Cyprus and Greece, the Parthenon Marbles, Byzantine icons, Nordic carvings and Degas! The model for our Rook (formerly a large juice container) was Kolossi and other Cyprus castles. Our Queen was inspired by various paintings, and was meant to allude to any one of the queens of Cyprus, actual or legendary.

Plastic parts were put together with duct tape. Recycled printer paper was glued in strips to create volume, magazine paper and tissue paper for more delicate work. Tissue paper is excellent for creating a “skin” on top of the finished horses. The painting was done in acrylics, our only luxury!



Learning Curves


There’s a first time for everything. This is my first illustration on a iPad using a stylus. My latest toy is Pencil by 53, and it’s fabulous! Still have a lot to learn, but that’s how I like it! I made this in Adobe Draw and Pencil works great in it. I am a little aghast that it took me this long to discover how much I love this stuff, but hopefully I’ll make up for it in due course.

It’s also the first “selfie” I’ve posted, inspired by a recent visit to this splendid Venetian bridge in the middle of cypriot nowhere. Kelefos Bridge is near the village of Ayios Nikolaos, technically in the Paphos district, but actually in a tight corner between Nicosia, Paphos and Limassol, on the south side of the Troodos mountains. Hidden in thick woods of pines and great big plane trees, this is one of many stone Venetian bridges built in the 1600’s. There’s a trail you can walk, all the way up to Kykkos (17 km but otherwise easy going, from what I’m told) that links at least three of these stone wonders. Known as the Venetian Bridges Nature Trail, you can read about it here


This second sketch is from a previous visit to the same spot, with my Djembe teacher, Annika – – and a group of friends and their percussive instruments, just over a year ago, back in the day of watercolours and ordinary pencils! Which one do you like?

In Ayia Napa

Where all the people go / Just to feel the flow
A secret paradise, paradise, girls are nice / A perfect hideaway on a sunny day
Come with us and set your mind at ease  / 
Ayia Napa
Can you feel the sun shining down / Da, da, da, da, da in Ayia Napa



Most people have heard of Ayia Napa, the party-central destination of Cyprus, in the context of its white sand beaches and non-stop clubbing. It took a Medieval Festival and a visit by a dear old friend to inspire me to look at it in a different light.

Hidden in plain sight, bang in the middle of the busy square, surrounded by restaurants and bars, is one of the most tranquil and picturesque medieval monuments in Cyprus: Ayia Napa Monastery, founded in the 12th century, by turns (and in no particular order) a Catholic nunnery, an Orthodox parish church, a farm house, a flour mill and a theological conference centre.

Yellow limestone, native plants, gargoyles and fountains, gorgeous renaissance windows, nooks and crannies and a cave with a fount of holy water, are only some of its charms. I wanted to incorporate the beautiful rose window carved in the stone facade of the church, so I added it to the sky. In its cloisters, it is possible to feel transported to another time. {I edited out some modern additions.} My beautiful friend, harpist Diana Rowan, completes the fairy tale!




Praza Cervantes, Santiago de Compostella, 13 July

Three months ago, I reached Santiago de Compostella. I had been there before, but this was the first time as a pilgrim. Under the beautiful honey-gold sandstone arcade around Cervantes Square, I sat watching pilgrims come and go, enjoying my celebratory Estrella Galicia  – this sketch is the fruit of that labour.

While walking the Camino, I barely drew anything, though I took hundreds of photos. Twenty to twenty seven km days really take a lot out of you! Next time I’ll know to pace myself better. Galicia is so beautiful; fairy-tale gorgeous, even! I like to think I internalised some of that beauty, and truth be told I made a lot of sketches after that, throughout the summer. Just one of the many ways the Camino keeps on giving forth its gifts. I can’t wait to go back there…



Ochre, dark green and sky blue, the palette of Nicosia streets. As I mentioned in my first post, I’m something of a “door-collector”. I’ve been posting photographs of doors on my other instagram account
for a while now. Here’s one I created in Illustrator, inspired by a favourite door from 1916, in the neighbourhood of Kaimakli. (I love working in Adobe Illustrator, as you may have noticed.)

People ask why doors. Besides being absolutely gorgeous, the simple answer is they are ready-made compositions. Colour, symmetry, texture and contrast are all there, waiting for the eye of the beholder. They are concise tableaux, given context by time and history.

Tales of the City


Things about old Nicosia I’ll never get tired of? I love how there’s pockets of ever-surprising histories under our noses. In between the tavernas and winebars, UN barricades, parking atrocities and brunch-prodigies-of-the-month there are hidden gems, secret gardens, incongruously mounted coats of arms or intriguing district appellations.

The dainty church -more an agglutination of chapels, really- of Panaghia Chrysaliniotissa (or Our Lady of the Golden Flax) is the oldest extant orthodox church within Nicosia’s Venetian walls. Built in the 1450’s, during the reign of the Frankish king John II, by his wife, Byzantine princess Helena Palaiologina, to serve the religious needs of gentlefolk in the walled city, who -like herself- happened to not adhere to the catholic creed of her husband’s ruling  Lusignan family. A tranquil oasis today, with its modest courtyard in a densely-built quarter, it once stood as a symbol of growing Greek influence against bitter Frankish resentment. 

There’s the question of the name: miraculous byzantine icon found in the undergrowth is a tale as old as, well, miraculous byzantine icons! There’s wonderful and unusual paintings, now in a museum, which I’d like to learn more about: an italianate madonna, a reversible “nasty/nice” madonna, really worth their own post!

A mysterious Green Man-like head is one of my favourites in this place, and of that I do have a photo!