Connecting Molyvos and Geraki with Textiles

Invited by Students of the Athens School of Fine Arts, students participating in the Molyvos Connections Project, workshopped ideas on art creation, history, and culture within the walls of the Komnikakis Krallis mansion. The North American students were delighted to work in a space, whose textual presence we had traced during a seminar that ran at SFU in the spring semester. This opportunity to work across institutions and disciplines was made possible by Gefyra, the SNF-funded initiative supporting the collaboration of the SFU and UCLA Hellenic Studies Centres.

The following are reflections on the experience, written by participating student Nina Houle from SFU. Her thoughts on textiles create a thin connecting line between the experience in Molyvos to the Geraki project also supported by Gefyra.

"We convene in a painted room, the walls decked with boats and vines and castles. Students from Vancouver and Athens, gathered in a history-soaked space. Above us, gilded scrollwork and a bare lightbulb look down together. We sit on low cushions as if the 19th century lives on, around a ring of papers and spread-open pattern books. A plate of assorted biscuits sits in the centre of it all.

Most of us are drawing while we chat; Greek modern folk lilts from the portable speaker hanging at a window latch. A pencilled linguistic chart emerges from a conversation and weaves into a notebook stuffed with drawings. I wonder how many of the patterns in my Greek textile book (which is spread on the floor right now, as reference and inspiration) emerged from conversations, from song, meaning encoded in every meandering line. Our names are put to paper in every script we know. How many of the images in the textiles I’ve been exploring are really signatures? Identities encoded in fibre, as our identities are blended and created, around the cookie plate and under the painted blossoms and sailing ships."