The Benaki Museum is kicking off the fall/winter season with three exhibitions dedicated to ceramics.
The first which opened its doors on September 28 is dedicated to the history of the legendary Ikaros factory on Rhodes, a onetime pillar of the local economy that once was the second largest ceramics-producing factory in Greece. The exhibition will run until November 19.
The history of the factory is a curious one, essentially the product of an error that nevertheless launched an industry.
In the early 20th century, the grand kapetanospita (captain’s houses) in Lindos were filled with authentic plates and vases from Iznik in Turkey which had been imported by the wealthy merchant captains. The Iznik ceramics were so prevalent that the Italians who occupied the island mistakenly believed that they had been produced domestically.
As part of their efforts to economically develop the island, the Italians created the ceramics producing company Icaro in 1928 in order to expand this supposed industry. The company survived the war and subsequently passed into the hands of local businessman Konstantinos Hatzikonstantis in 1947. Renamed Ikaros, the company grew and thrived thanks to the economic development of the island and the growth in tourism.
In the 40 years the company operated under Greek ownership, roughly 400-500 mainly young Rhodians would work in the factory that became a mainstay of the economy, creating and painting designs and producing fine ceramics that Rhodes became famous for. The factory operated until Hatzikonstantis was killed in an accident in 1987, shutting its doors in 1988.
During its 60 years of continuous operation, the company produced a huge range of ceramic products such as decorative plates, vases, pitchers, figurines, female statuettes in traditional dress, animal-shaped pacifiers and more. It became intimately linked with the local community by employing a significant number of Rhodians, and its products are characteristic examples of the domestic industrial output of Greece in the 20th century.
400 items will be on display at the Benaki Museum (on Koumbari street) which belong to the collector Yiannos Ioannidis.
The exhibition is also linked to special tribute to Iznik drawing on the collection of the Museum of Islamic Art which will open on 6/10. And one day before on 5/10 at the Benaki Museum Annex on Pireos street, an exhibition will open displaying the exceptional ceramic works of the artist Maritsa Travlou.