Feature - Stories of the past, the present and the future – the art of Filoxenia
06.08.2012, 16:08 (CET)
Throughout the Cyprus EU Presidency the Filoxenia Conference Centre and the Cypress Media Centre serve as a base for the great number of delegates and journalists from all around Europe. While the pieces of art found in different places within the facilities could hardly go unnoticed, few visitors are aware of the intriguing stories and meanings behind them.

As you enter the Cypress Media Centre, passing by the reception to go to the Karpasia and Bellapais press rooms, an enormous 3X8 metre clay sculpture is displayed. Through a combination of symbolic pictures, ceramic plates and friezes, the striking sculpture named “Birth & Rebirth” by highly-acclaimed Cypriot artist Valentinos Charalambous, tells the story of Cyprus’ turbulent past.

“I don’t think there is any other country with as much impact from the people around it,” Mr. Charalambous says. “The island has experienced invasions from the east, the west, the north and the south. This has made its history unique.  Its strategic position and rich assets together with the beauty of the island have made it attractive to everybody. They all had a good reason to come here, and they all left their footprint,” adds the artist.

To be read from right to left

The sculpture should be “read” from right-to-left, although Mr. Charalambous admits it’s not fully historically accurate if you read it correctly. The reason for the opposite way of reading it is because it was originally made for the Nicosia International Airport in the 1960s, and when passengers passed by the sculpture they would experience it from right to left. The same holds true today, as visitors to the Cypress Media Centre after passing the reception will find it on the right-hand side.

“We were very lucky to get that wall”, Mr Charalambous says with a chuckle.  

As you step out of the Cypress Media Centre, in front of the Filoxenia Conference Centre, another spectacular piece of art is on display.  Twenty seven bicycle wheels, symbolising the 27 member states of the European Union, make up “Together” by Nikos Kyprianou. Each wheel is different in size and connected to the next by a chain, symbolising the interdependence between the EU member states and the importance of working together while also acknowledging the diversity of the countries. 

“Together” is one work of art out of three that was selected through a competition to decorate the Filoxenia Conference Centre for the Cyprus EU Presidency.

Bearing the colour of copper

The corridor leading to the Halkos restaurant in the Filoxenia Conference Centre’s basement hosts the second work of art selected through the competition. “Alasia” by Ioannis Kofteros is a composition of olive leaves made out of casted glass. The leaves bear the colour of copper, the metal that once made Cyprus famous and which gave it its name, derived from Cyprium. The composition refers to the challenges endured by the people of Cyprus throughout the island’s history while also demonstrating survival through creativity for the years to come.

The third piece is in the VIP lounge of the Filoxenia Conference Centre. “Tactile solution” by Klitsa Antoniou consists of wood, metal, and – if you look closely – real used clothes. The clothes represent the anonymous bodies of the human dimension while the connecting “fence” in the sculpture symbolises people now gathered in dynamic groups. The composition refers indirectly to the problems facing human beings but also the new prospect of solutions the European family can bring. 

Together with additional art borrowed from the National Gallery, the pieces will create not only a place of filoxenia for the visitors to the Conference Centre and the Media Centre, but also a place of thought and imagination.

Find more photos here