CULTURE

Documenting traditional craftsmanship

Shaped like hands, faces, lion’s heads and dolphins; rusted, painted or burnished bright, the traditional door knockers of Greece are a charming feature of many old houses. Unfortunately, modern urban architecture, dominated by multistory apartment buildings, is gradually eliminating them, which makes this newly published album of photographs by Platon Tsoulos doubly welcome. In 1995, Tsoulos began taking photographs all over Greece for his album «Door Knockers,» just out from Olkos. The first example was of a silver, handmade knocker in the shape of a hand on the black iron door to the courtyard of his grandmother’s house in Livadia. As he sought more examples to record, Tsoulas relished the opportunity to step back into the past, as it were, in the company of people who still live in some of the old buildings he visited. A journalist by profession, Tsoulas used his reporter’s instinct to locate and document the door knockers he has chosen, but his approach is self-confessedly romantic. He makes no attempt to describe or classify the examples he presents, but simply offers them for our visual delectation, just as they are – whether carefully tended or left to their fate. This is a tender look at a small but distinct part of Greek vernacular architectural history. In her introduction, Miranda Terzopoulou conjures up the old women who once lived in such houses and the artisans who crafted the door knockers which reflect the spirit of the houses they ornament.