In September 2009, an international ceramics symposium took place under the auspices of the “Active Citizens of Aegina” association and the municipality of Aegina island. Ceramicists Margarita Ecclisiarchou and Theodora Chorafas were behind this endeavor, body and soul.
Ceramicists from Greece, Canada, Japan, Switzerland and Egypt gathered at Oikia Karapanou, a 19th century mansion in a beautiful private estate (http://www.karapanou.com), for a period of 15 days. They worked together, exchanged ideas and know-how, and shared their knowledge and experience in the art of ceramics with the public at large. Particular emphasis was given on this aspect of the symposium: opening up the world of ceramics to as many people as possible. And so, evenings were organized, during which ceramicists would show their work by way of projection, sharing and explaining their art. Twice during that period, the workshop opened its doors to a very interested public, thirsty to learn about ceramics.
The symposium also went into the main town, where a few events took place. Archaeologist Irini Gratsia presented her research on the traditional pottery of Aegina in the courtyard of the Museum of Folk Arts, to a packed audience.
Ceramicist Maro Kerassioti gave a lecture on contemporary Greek ceramics to a fascinated crowd, in the municipal theatre, after which ceramicists Aline Favre and Les Manning (both guests in the symposium) showed, hands on, how they each have developed their own personal language, expressed through clay.
The Archaeological Museum of Aegina also opened its doors to the Symposium, housing an exhibition with works by all 16 artists present, shown in the museum’s beautiful atrium. It was the first time that the museum allowed contemporary art to enter into such close dialogue with its ancient exhibits, and the result was a success.
The symposium culminated in a great feast at the Garis brothers’, the last traditional potters of Aegina. While Nektarios Garis was firing his pitchers in his traditional wood kiln, the guests, numbering in the hundreds, danced to the rhythm of the live, traditional music, jumping over a huge bond fire, eating, drinking and feasting together under a starry sky, leaving behind social, political, national and religious differences. It was the best way to show how art can bring people together.
And thus the ancient, traditional and contemporary ceramics came together.