visiting artist, 2014
"The Cyprus College of Art offers artists a bit of humanity in an all too inhuman art world."
If you are an artist, art student or other creative practitioner, the Cyprus College of Art can offer you studio space and living accommodation in one of the most historic and culturally vibrant parts of the world, from one week up to a whole year.
We are not a college in the sense of a teaching institution: instead we are a studio space, with some basic living accommodation blocks attached, which attracts creative people from around the world.
The College was founded in 1969 by the distinguished Cypriot painter
Stass Paraskos. Stass died in March 2014, but his vision of a space for artists, art students and art lovers to come together, share studio space and enjoy the simple act of making art lives on.
As one artist from Scotland, Miriam Mallalieu, wrote after her experience of the College in the summer of 2014: "We met some wonderful people in the last month, made lots of work and put on a show that I'm pretty proud of. It has just been the loveliest experience."
The College is located in the village of Lempa, located about 4 kilometres north of the historic town of Paphos. In 2017 Paphos became the European Capital of Culture, but the Cyprus College of Art has been the real centre for culture in Paphos for a lot longer than that.
When it was founded in 1969 the College was located in the city of Famagusta. It moved to Paphos after the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974, which was then a deserted village. Stass, his wife Mary, and numerous artists from all over the world came to live and work at the College, and began turning Lempa from an "ghost village" with a population of 10 people, into the vibrant living community it is today.
That they did this with their own hands adds to the charm of the place, but it also means the College and its living accommodation is a bit rough and ready. It is built by artists, not professional builders, so if you want posh or fancy facilities you will not find them here. What you will find is a primitive environment where you can get in touch with your real artistic identity.
The whole place is surrounded by an amazing sculpture wall, known locally as the Great Wall of Lempa. This was started in the 1980s by Stass with the sculptor Anthony Heywood, who made the large paid of hands scooping water at the College entrance, and Peter Fillingham, who made the King Kong gorilla in the sculpture courtyard. After that Stass and numerous other visiting artists added to the structure, creating one of the most astonishing works of public art in Cyprus.
Of course we know the College is a simple, even primitive, place and so it is not going to be suitable for everyone, but for real artists it is a kind of paradise. Or as one visiting artist, Marcus Cope, put it: "The Cyprus College of Art is all about the art, the simple stuff that attracted most of us to this art thing in the first place. It's about developing studio practice without all that professional development crap."
Not everyone is going to like that or want a place like this, which is fine.
But for those of you who need to be a real artist, this place is unique and truly special.
To read more on the Cyprus College of Art click here.