HEADLINES

Hermès Bursts with the Colors of Greek Nature

In Athens to oversee an exhibition of her woven artwork, Argentinian-Greek artist Alexandra Kehayoglou feels she’s bringing back her grandmother’s creative talent to its homeland.


The summer heat has arrived, making the asphalt on Stadiou Street turn sticky and the city’s unpainted facades seem even grayer under the sun. With my eyes fixed on the pavement while walking, and occasionally throwing quick glances to the side where colorful shop displays interrupt the monochrome setting, I stop at the corner with Voukourestiou Street, drawn by the beguiling view of a sandy beach. The turquoise hues of the sea extend towards the horizon and join the deep-blue sky. In the next window is a gorgeous green gorge. Captivated by the lush Mediterranean vegetation, I stand and gaze at the windows.

“This is the Samaria Gorge (in Crete),” points out Alexandra Kehayoglou, who is in Athens to oversee the placement of her woven textiles in the windows of Hermès boutique.

Born in Buenos Aires, she is the granddaughter of Greek emigrants who left Asia Minor for Argentina during World War I, finding success thanks to “grandmother Elpiniki’s loom.” Her family’s hard work on the loom bore fruit in the New World, where it led to the creation of a large and successful carpet industry.

“Born in Buenos Aires, she is the granddaughter of Greek emigrants who left Asia Minor for Argentina during World War I.”

Raised literally among carpets, Alexandra took her family’s long weaving tradition and turned it into art. “At the beginning I felt obliged to follow my destiny. My grandmother had the loom; my grandfather a successful business. I began by studying business and communication, but I dropped out after a couple of months and began my own search. I took advice from career consultants, even astrologers. Everyone told me I had to join the family business, but I was only interested in art. I didn’t want any more carpets. I wanted to set myself free. I studied fine arts at IUNA (Instituto Nacional del Arte in Buenos Aires) in my search for my own expression. I experimented with painting, photography, video, installations, and then I discovered – with the help of my father – a special weaving gun. And everything fell into place. I would continue the family tradition, through art.”

In her work, which consists of ample woven surfaces and carpets, nature looms large. Her main source of inspiration are Argentina’s pastizales(grasslands), which are fast disappearing due to intensive farming and industrialization.

“When I started working on this idea, the first thought that crossed my mind was what my grandmother Elpiniki would say about my work. As I was contemplating the legacy she left behind, I found out I was pregnant. I took this to mean something; there was a connection between my own genetic line continuing to live on, and that of nature which was dying. It was then that I became certain that my role as an artist was to capture in my work the disappearing natural landscapes.

Her work lies at the crossroads of art, design and utility. “Connected with dreams, safety and comfort, carpets emulate something archetypal.When an adult and a child sit on the same floor, something magical happens; the relationship is transformed and what obstacles exist are overcome. I also like to see the effects carpets have on people. Carpets are functional pieces, but they also need care – just like nature.”

“I wanted to set myself free. I studied fine arts at IUNA (Instituto Nacional del Arte in Buenos Aires) in my search for my own expression.”

Her big break was the autumn fashion show of Dries Van Noten in September 2011. And all thanks to social media. Her Instagram accountwww.instagram.com/alexkeha (which has 36,500 followers) became the medium through which the Belgian designer discovered her, and made her debut a reality. The rest all happened very fast after that.

After her collaboration with Hermès in Athens and London, she will exhibit her work at Art Basel in Switzerland. Meanwhile, she has a series of collaborations lined up in the near future, from Taiwan to Australia and from New York to Italy.

Greekness” (what Greeks call Hellenism) is an integral part of her life, even though her relationship with Greece is an indirect one. “I don’t speak Greek. I never met my grandmother, but the Greek community is part of my life. I was baptized, and my father is … very Greek. He loves food, family, music; he’s very loud and (almost) always right! And my five-year-old son tells everyone he’s Greek.”

Now, Alexandra feels like she is back to her “roots” – where everything began. “The windows at Hermès symbolize for me a journey that is now complete. My grandmother’s weaving tradition, hailing from this part of Europe, traveled to Argentina, took on a new form, and is now returning to its homeland.”

INFO

The luxury brand Hermès invites artists to take part in its competition “Artist Window”, which focuses on fresh and innovative window displays for its shops around the world.

Alexandra Kehayoglou’s creations will be on display at the Hermès boutique
•4 Stadiou and 1 Voukourestiou streets in Athens throughout the spring-summer season.

SOURCE: http://www.greece-is.com/

spacer

8 Contemporary Landmarks of Athens

Athens center to the coast: an architectural walk with modern pit stops to challenge the way you view the city


Athens isn’t just defined by a single architectural style. What you get is a hotchpotch of layers as each period in the city’s history slowly straddles and overtakes the previous one. The fusion of styles merge and muddle in a convoluted way so that a walk through the capital, apart from being a stroll through history, is also a dialogue of different eras. Pause, listen carefully, and you’ll hear the pulsating vibrations of scattered monuments challenging the misunderstood modern metropolis to wriggle from the grasp of the magnificent Parthenon.

Compete it does, as it seeks its own present-day identity that makes it stand apart from past glories. Modern-day Athens is using the turbulence and quandary of its generation to leave a legacy for the future – creating its own kleos (what the ancients called immortal fame).

ATHENS TOWERS

Function: 105 offices and shops, seven elevators (six public, one service) and parking space for 340 cars, but – alas – no observation deck so you’ll either have to sweet-talk a receptionist or apply for special access that’s relatively easy to get for sightseeing but not available for base jumping.

History: Athens acquired its first and only skyscraper in 1971 thanks to a briefly-imposed developmental law passed during the Greek military junta (1967-1974) granting permission for the erection of skyscrapers.

Architects: Construction company, Alivertis-Dimopoulos, started work on the double tower in 1967, using minimalist, futuristic designs by architects Ioannis Vikelas and Ioannis Kybritis.

Description: The tallest of the two glass towers has 28 floors (including basement) at 103 meters high. It is connected to a shorter 65-meter 12-floor tower via a first-floor bridge. Despite two earthquakes which were over magnitude 6 (that toppled ordinary buildings), the imposing structure steadfastly protrudes from the city skyline, a remnant of the architectural legacy of a controversial coup’s grandiose plans.

{Info: 2-4 Mesogeion Avenue, Ambelokipi • Tel. (+30) 217.705.817}

ATHENS HILTON

Function: An upscale luxury hotel with 506 rooms, an on-site restaurant and the Galaxy bar on the 13th floor with panoramic views of Athens. The hotel also has a spa and a 25mx15m outdoor swimming pool.

History: At its opening, hotel magnate Conrad Hilton hailed it as “the most beautiful Hilton in the world”. Many Athenians, however, lamented that it overshadowed the Acropolis with its 65-meter height, making it the tallest city building at the time. Nonetheless, the impact of guests such as Aristotle Onassis, Frank Sinatra, Ingmar Bergman, Anthony Quinn and the Rolling Stones running naked down the corridors made it the place to be. Its celebrity aura overtook the region that came to be known as the ‘Hilton area’.

Architects: Four top Greek architects (Emmanouil Vourekas, Prokopis Vassiliadis, Spyros Staikos and Antonis Georgiades) worked on its construction from 1958-1963. In 2003, Alexandros Tombazis and Charis Bougadelis added a seven-floor northern wing with 74 rooms ahead of the 2004 Athens Olympics.

Description: A mix of classical and modernist elements evoke the contradictions of 60s architecture, that reflected the incongruities of the lifestyle at the time. The undeniable crowning glory is the monumental relief by prominent 20th-century Greek artist Yiannis Moralis, etched onto its facade.

{Info: 46 Vasilissis Sofias Avenue • Tel. (+30) 210.728.1000}

ATHENS CONCERT HALL (MEGARON MOUSIKIS)

Function: Two large and two small concert halls offering first-class performances, conference centers, an auditorium, a digital library, gift shop, restaurant, new ice-skating rink for the winter and a lawn for starry, outdoor summer concerts.

History: Soprano Alexandra Trianti’s vision for an opera house to rival the world’s finest took the form of bricks and mortar with the inauguration of the first two classical halls of the Megaron Mousikis in 1991. Initially known as the Lambrakis shrine, thanks to the efforts of reclusive press tycoon Christos Lambrakis and the backing of the Friends of Music Society which he headed.

Architects: Acoustic studies were commissioned first, laying specifications adhered to by architects Emmanouil Vourekas, Ilias Skroumpelis and their international colleagues.

Description: The structural divisions created for optimum acoustic quality are a modern retelling of the great rectangular halls of a megaron (ancient Grecian palace complex). Despite the austere Doric lines and garish exterior, the venue is a warm and welcoming place inside. Polished marble, dazzling chandeliers and magnificent foyers are ideal for a chat between arias and bel canto.

{Info: Corner of Vasilissias Sofias and Kokkali streets • Tel. (+30) 210.728.2333 • Access: Megaron Mousikis metro station}

ACROPOLIS MUSEUM

Function: A new Parthenon ‒ displaying artifacts from the ancient site ‒ standing as a monument of the modern Greek image and custodian of Greek heritage.

History: Greek statesman Konstantinos Karamanlis chose the site in 1976, but its grand opening decades later, in 2009, reignited the age-old debate of whether the Parthenon Marbles should be repatriated from Britain.

Architects: Swiss-French deconstructivist Bernard Tschumi wanted to create a modern building that would fit into the picturesque landscape using light, movement and mathematical precision inspired by the clarity of Ancient Greek structures.

Description: A glass floor allows visitors to peer into the ruins found during the construction stage of the museum while the sloped floor alludes to the upward ascent towards the Parthenon. Highlights include the caryatid statues of the Erechtheion minus the missing kore removed by Lord Elgin. The Parthenon gallery, on the third level, is rotated 23 degrees from the rest of the building so as to be aligned directly with the Parthenon.

{Info: 15 Dionysiou Areopagitou Street, Athens • Tel. (+30) 210.900.0900 • Access: Akropoli Metro Station}

NATIONAL MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART

Function: Modern art museum with library, labs, project rooms, auditoriums, a restaurant and a terrace with 360-degree views. Though still not officially open, visitors can get a sneak preview from time-to-time: June 21 (Concert on International Music Day) | Oct-Jan 2017 (Temporary display) | Nov (‘The Young Soloist’ children’s workshop).

History: Constructed by Ioannis Fix of the Bavarian Fuchs family in 1893, the FIX brewery, towering over scattered homes around the west banks of the now-buried Ilissos River, was once synonymous with feta cheese and souvlaki.

Architects: Post-war modernist architect Takis Zenetos renovated the building in 1957 into a state-of-the art facility with a glass-covered ground-floor facade so passers-by could enjoy the beer-making process. Abandoned in the 70s, part of the building was demolished in 1994 to make way for a metro station of the same name. Following a public uproar, 3SK Stylianidis architects were finally contracted to revamp the building.

Description: The Kallirrois Street entrance conjures the image of the now-defunct river bed. Inside, escalators lead visitors through 18,142 square meters of white-colored surroundings with sunlight filtering through the glass to create a contrast of light and shade.

{Info: Flanked by Frantzi Street and Kallirrois and Syngrou avenues • Tel. (+30) 210.924.2111 • Access: Fix Metro Station}

ETHNIKI ASFALISTIKI (HELLENIC GENERAL INSURANCE COMPANY)

Function: Two sets of office buildings with the curved building housing the national insurance company. There is also an independent 500-seat conference center, library and cafe with a concealed 5-level underground parking lot for 550 vehicles.

History: The main issue during the construction of the building that opened to the public in 2006, just before the inauguration of the Onassis Cultural Center across the block, was to best utilize the view of the Acropolis. The aim was to create a building complex that would interact with the city.

Architects: Swiss architect Mario Botta is known for his use of brick and geometry. For this building he collaborated with local-based Sparch architects.

Description: The curved 6-floor building facing the Acropolis conveys motion, breaking the monotony of the curtain of boxed-in buildings that define Syngrou Avenue. The sharp corner is dramatic, giving emphasis to the slightly elevated plaza between it and the other 4-level oblong structure of office blocks. Inside the buildings there is are lighting holes that let in a confetti of natural light.

{INFO: 103-105 Syngrou Avenue, Athens • Tel. (+30) 210.909.9000}

ONASSIS CULTURAL CENTER

Function: The building’s architecture screams its very raison d’etre! A space to host modern cultural expression in all its forms, it has two state-of-the-art theaters with superb acoustics, exhibition spaces and lecture centers. There’s also a ground-floor cafe and a top-floor Michelin-starred restaurant, Hytra, with knock-out views from the Acropolis to the Saronic Gulf.

History: Soaring on the euphoria of Greece’s euro entry, the idea for the modern facility was conceived in 2000. The foundations were laid on a 3,000-square-meter plot of land covering a city block in 2004, the year Athens hosted the Olympics. Six years later, the building was inaugurated in December 2010, in the wake of the financial crisis.

Architects: French architectural practice, Architecture Studio’s design of white marble bands encapsulating the building’s facade was chosen from 66 other proposals in an international competition.

Description: An excellent sample of contemporary design. Simplicity with a twist thanks to the facade’s outer metal bands that play with the use of light, doubling the exterior as a projection screen. Popping out of the corner is a 30-meter high painting by Greek graffiti artist iNO, depicting a face emerging from crumpled paper. The real surprises lie within the art facility that covers 18,000-square-meters of internal floor space over 16 levels (though you wouldn’t know it because nine of these are underground).

{Info: 107-109 Syngrou Avenue, Neos Kosmos • Tel. (+30) 213.017.8000}

STAVROS NIARCHOS FOUNDATION CULTURAL CENTER

Function: A modern-day agora and a new home for the National Opera that has outgrown its current Academias Street address, with a 1,400-seat opera hall, 400-seat black box theater, school of dance as well as a National Library housing 2 million books, and a research center right at the center of a 170,000 square meter park.

History: The Stavros Niarchos Foundation announced its ambitious gift to the Greek people in 2006. Construction work started in 2012 with a cheeky industrial “dance of cranes” to celebrate. Now, the €596 million project is ready and set to be handed over to the Greek state in June in the hopes of heralding a new era for Greek culture (and architecture!)

Visitors, however, can still enjoy the park and a treasure-trove of activity – a taste of bigger and better things to come – at the Visitors Center.

Architect: Award-winning Italian Renzo Piano, responsible for iconic buildings round the world such as the Shard in London, the Nemo in Amsterdam, the Living Roof in California and more, was selected as one of the most influential people by TIME in 2006, the year the building was conceived. Piano says that he wanted to design a vibration more than a monument.

Design: Piano, in a playful mood, envisioned a monument rising out of the ground like a dislodged piece of the earth’s crust. As you walk up a 5-degree slope you don’t even realize you’re going upwards until it occurs to you that you’re walking onto a living roof, covered by an energy canopy that utilizes the wind and sun. With its back to the Acropolis, it looks to the future with its gaze to the sea.

{Info: Faliron seafront, southern Athens • Tel. (+30) 210.877.8396}

spacer

Ionian islands brace for double-digit tourism growth

STATHIS KOUSOUNIS

The Ionian islands are this year expected to enjoy a double-digit percentage rise in tourism arrivals compared to last year, as the region has not been affected by the migration problem that has affected the image of other destinations.

An event held on Corfu last week heard the head of the regional authority, Spyros Galiatsatos, further stress the significance tourism has for the Ionian islands, as it contributes 50 percent of the local economy’s gross domestic product, against a nationwide average of 8 percent.

Also its contribution to employment comes to 17 percent, against 8.4 percent in the whole of Greece.

SOURCE: eKathimerini

spacer

Black Sea Bank set to finance more Greek firms by end-2018

EVGENIA TZORTZI

The Black Sea Trade and Development Bank will offer Greek enterprises loans totaling 180 million euros up to the end of 2018, raising its target share in disbursements for Greece – one of its main stakeholders – to 16.5 percent.

Total financing to Greek enterprises from the BSTDB to date amounts to 207 million euros, and, according to its president, Ihsan Ugur Delikanli, the increase in loan issues is intended to create a balance between the percentage of loans to Greece and the country’s contribution to the bank’s share capital.

In a joint press conference held on Wednesday with Greek Economy Minister Giorgos Stathakis, Delikanli also announced that the Black Sea Trade and Development Bank is in talks regarding the issuance of a loan to a Greek lender, and that the BSTDB’s the participation in the funding of the Transadriatic Pipeline (TAP), which will go through three of the bank’s founding states (Greece, Turkey and Albania), is a priority interest.

“Greece is one of the countries we wish to place more attention on for the additional reason that the seat of our bank is in Thessaloniki,” Delikanli stated, ahead of the regional lender’s 18th annual meeting of the Board of Governors that will take place at Hania on Crete, on June 12.

SOURCE: eKathimerini

spacer

Lonely Planet names Peloponnese top European destination in 2016

Travel guide publisher Lonely Planet has released its annual list of top European destinations to visit in 2016, naming the southern Greek region of the Peloponnese as its Number 1 choice.

“Now more than ever the Peloponnese is the perfect destination for absorbing traditional Greek life, compelling history and inspiring landscapes,” Lonely Planet says on its website.

“Travelers to Greece tend to flock to the myriad islands or marvel at the iconic Acropolis, but one of the country’s most diverse, vibrant regions is often forgotten: the Peloponnese. It remains an affordable enclave of magnificent ancient sights like Olympia, Mycenae and Mystras, which are scattered across a rich landscape of stone villages, teal seas and snow-capped mountains,” it says.

The Top Ten experiences it names are visits to the seaside town of Nafplio, the shipwreck dive in Navarino Bay at Pylos, catching a show at the Ancient Theater of Epidaurus, bird-watching at Gialova Lagoon, a ride on the vintage rack-and-pinion railway between Kalavryta and Diakofto, partying at the Patra Carnival, exploring the Medieval walled town of Monemvasia, tasting the region’s famed olives, crossing the Corinth Canal to the Nemea wine region and touring the Peloponnese’s archaeological sites.

The second destination Lonely Planet recommends is  Aarhus in Denmark, named European Capital of Culture and European Region of Gastronomy in 2017, followed by Venice, the Dordogne in France, Lviv in Ukraine, Warwickshire in England, Extremadura in Spain, the east coast of Tenerife, Textel in The Netherlands and Croatia’s northern Dalmatian coast.

SOURCE: eKathimerini

spacer

The genie escaped …

HOUDA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GEORGE HOUDALAKIS: In the popular tales of the Middle East, “Thousand and one nights”, magic carpets annihilate distances by flying over obstacles and enemies. Unfortunately, this happens only in the Scheherazade narratives. In fact, refugees from Damascus, not only have to overcome the Scylla and Charybdis until they reach the “happilt ever after….”

The genie, by escaping from the lamp-jail, after the construction of the Evros fence, was diving in the Aegean hoping to reach the first European coast. Since the floating “wooden walls” of NATO were erected, the refugee flows rediscovered the old path of Evros again. Traffickers know that the genie does not accept orders except from necessity. Despair, even if there is no way of escape, would invent it. The genie will return to the lamp only if Aladdin finds peace in the bloody soil of Damascus. Until then both the marine and the terrestrial fences will become the “strainer” in hope for salvation of the desperate.

PS .: «Το της ανάγκης εστί αδήριτον σθένος»
(The power of need is overwhelming.)
Aeschylus

spacer

Holy Fire arrives in Athens from Jerusalem ahead of Easter celebrations

The Holy Fire from Jerusalem arrived in Athens by airplane at 8 p.m. on Saturday, ahead of Easter celebrations in Greece.

The flame was received with the protocol reserved for heads of state after Patriarch Theophilos of Jerusalem had been handed it to a Greek delegation led by Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Amanatidis.

“It is a victory of hope and optimism, and our responsibility, to transform this into a creative force in the struggle we are all mounting for the rebirth of our homeland,” said Amanatidis upon receiving the Holy Fire, which was due to be flown to more than a dozen points around the country after being brought to Athens on a special flight.

Earlier, thousands of Christians gathered in Jerusalem for the ancient fire ceremony, which celebrates Jesus’ resurrection.

In a ritual dating back at least 1,200 years, they crowded Saturday into the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where Christian tradition holds that Jesus was crucified, buried and resurrected.

During the annual ceremony, top Eastern Orthodox clerics enter the Edicule, the small chamber marking the site of Jesus’ tomb.

They then emerge to reveal candles said to be miraculously lit with “holy fire” as a message to the faithful from heaven. The details of the flame’s source are a closely guarded secret.

Roman Catholics and Protestants marked Easter in March, in accordance with the Gregorian calendar. Eastern Orthodox churches celebrate Easter this week using the older Julian calendar.

SOURCE: [Kathimerini & AP]

spacer

Greek deal closer, euro zone finance ministers to meet May 9

JAN STRUPCZEWSKI & FRANCESCO GUARASCIO
 

Greece and its international lenders are close to a deal on a package of bailout reforms and are working to agree further contingency steps by May 9 when an extraordinary meeting of euro zone finance ministers will be held in Brussels, EU officials said on Thursday.

Talks between Greece and its lenders have almost reached a conclusion on reforms agreed within the current bailout program, while more negotiations are needed on further contingency measures that Athens must commit to in exchange for debt relief negotiations.

“We are 99 percent of the way there, we have converged on almost all aspects,” European Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs Pierre Moscovici said on Thursday on the original reform package, which includes a pension and income tax reform, a way to deal with bad loans and setting up a privatization fund.

“As for the contingency mechanism, which in our view is not really justified by data but politically necessary, let’s work on that,” he added.

The work is expected to be concluded by May 9 when euro zone finance ministers will hold an extraordinary meeting to discuss progress on Greece.

There will be an “additional eurogroup on Greece on Monday 9 May at 3 p.m. in Brussels,” the spokesman of euro zone finance ministers’ chairman Jeroen Dijsselbloem said late on Thursday in a tweet.

Entire Article HERE

spacer
spacer

Increase reported in domestic holiday bookings this Easter

STATHIS KOUSOUNIS

Corfu traditionally pulls large crowds over Easter.

Hotel bookings at most popular destinations in Greece are showing an increase over this Easter period, according to hoteliers and travel agents.

The expected exodus of Greeks from the cities to the countryside and the islands for this year’s Easter holidays has been bolstered by the fact that May 1 is a rather late date for Orthodox Easter, which has led to more hoteliers than usual opening their units as the summer season is very close. That in turn has resulted in better prices, offers and discounts for guests, especially in places with a lot of accommodation options.

Other favorable factors have been the government’s decision to extend the typical four-day Easter holiday period to five days by adding the May Day holiday, on May 3, and the positive weather forecasts for this weekend, which have boosted last-minute bookings.

The latest data from the Hellenic Association of Tourism and Travel Agents (HATTA) show that sales of packages and individual bookings made by Greeks through travel agents for the country’s holiday resorts are showing a 10 percent increase compared with last Easter.

Figures from the Trivago website also reveal that local destinations have risen in Greeks’ estimation since 2015 when it comes to Easter vacations. In their top 15 choices there are five Greek destinations, against just one last year. Furthermore, a survey by travel agent Travelplanet24 found that the top choices for Greeks traveling by ferry for their Easter holidays are the islands of Syros and Myconos, while Santorini is the most popular vacation spot by air.

The president of the Santorini Hoteliers Association, Manolis Karamolegos, confirms that this year Easter tourism traffic is greater on the island than in 2015. He also notes that the number of hotels that are open this Easter is five times last year’s, while occupancy rates are expected to range around 70 percent.

Hotels in Magnesia, central Greece, are also witnessing an increase in bookings from the domestic market, according to the local hoteliers’ association president, Giorgos Zafiris. He adds, however, that losses have been noted in bookings from Serbia and Bulgaria due to the mistaken impression that the borders would be closed for road transport to Greek destinations.

According to the regional vice governor of the Ionian islands, Spyros Galiatsatos, that region is also witnessing a rise in bookings, with Corfu, traditionally a popular destination over Easter, absorbing the lion’s share of traffic.

In contrast, there has been a decline in bookings for Halkidiki, central Macedonia. The head of the local hoteliers, Grigoris Tasios, notes that the occupancy rate is 10 percentage points down on 2015, ranging between 65 and 70 percent.

SOURCE: eKathimerini

spacer