Katerina Kanakari, director of the Zarifio Craft School of Tinos, points out that the effort that goes into producing a traditionally made woven product far surpasses what people are usually willing to pay. It makes sense, then, that the institution is facing financial challenges. A special new art project, however, has given the school a boost.
Titled “Resonate,” this undertaking, made possible by the support of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Public Humanities Initiative (SNFPHI), at Columbia University, an institution created by historian Mark Mazauer and funded by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, combined two of the island’s great traditions, textiles and music, together with meteorology and state-of-the-art sound technology. The fascinating results of the project were on display for a few days recently in the school’s loom room.
A visual installation by the art and design team Hypercomf (aka Paola Palavidi and Giannis Koliopoulos) was complemented by work from the composer Stelios Dimou and creations from weavers Dimitra Kritikou and Anna Velalopoulou from the school. As a result, the Craft School was awash in sounds and symbols focused on one of the island’s most enduring features, its sea winds.
“We spoke with Tinos folklorist Aleko Florakis, who gave us some old song recordings, and we recorded the cantor Antonis Harikiopoulos and the local priest, Father Nikolaos, who sang songs they’d learned as children,” Palavidi told K Magazine. “We noted that, in these songs, the main point of reference was the weather conditions, and particularly the wind.”
Koliopoulos explained further: “We made recordings in areas where man-made and natural elements mix, such as at breakwaters or in pigeon cotes… We went to the National Observatory and got Beaufort measurement data for every day in 2019. Then we designed new symbols for the textiles…, each correspond[ing] to a different wind speed on the Beaufort scale. We asked the weavers to produce them on their looms. Dimitris Antoniou, a lecturer in Hellenic Studies at Columbia and one of the pioneers of SNFPHI, introduced us to composer Stelios Dimou… He agreed to create a new composition for the installation…”
The public enjoyed the result. “You might not think that an artistic project like this would find such a positive response in Tinos, but it is has,” Palavidi said. “There is curiosity and interest from people of all different ages. And we want our projects to be about the people who live here.” They also want to highlight, through this collaboration, a school whose doors simply must stay open.
You can read more about the project here.
The Zarifio Craft School of Tinos
The Zarifio Craft School of Tinos boasts an intriguing 124-year history. Funds for the founding of the school came from the banker Nicholas Zarifis, who was repaying an act of kindness by a young local woman who’d been his nanny in Istanbul.
In bygone days, the girls of the Cyclades, and especially those of Naxos and Tinos, ended up in service in private homes, sending money back home to their poor families. During a business trip – Zarifis and his wife often traveled together on these – riots broke out in the city. The young nanny took the children and returned to Tinos for safety, sending word to Zarifis of what she had done. The banker, grateful for her actions, donated a significant amount to the island, to be used to give the girls there the opportunity to learn a craft so they could earn a living without forsaking Tinos. It was with this money that the Zarifio Craft School was founded and its first looms purchased.
Katerina Kanakari, the school’s director, belongs to the third generation of women in her family to be involved with the school.
Source: K Magazine