A school specializing in marble sculpture

On the island of Tinos, it seems that the art of marble sculpture is in the islanders’ genes. Blessed with an abundance of marble, since the island’s quarries continue to produce good-quality material, it is home to the best-known Greek marble sculptors, keeping alive a tradition that dates back centuries. Celebrated Yannoulis Halepas and Dimitris Filippotis, along with many unknown but highly skilled artists, took off from Tinos’s Pyrgos and Ysternia and went on to adorn every corner of Greece with marble marvels. Today, the island continues to produce top marble sculptors. Kathimerini visited the School of Fine Arts in Tinos’s Panormos recently and talked to its director Babis Kritikos about the necessity of modernizing the foundation. «Tinos has a great tradition in the fine arts. To honor the home of its greatest sculptors, the state founded the School of Fine Arts in 1955 so that local marble artists could study. We are celebrating our 50th anniversary this year and our graduates are working on the restoration of the Acropolis and other monuments, as well as freelance,» said the director. It is evident that a great deal has changed since 1955, but not the school’s guidelines. «Five decades ago, the circumstances were different. Today, our students aren’t just locals, but they come from all over Greece and our structure should be improved. We are obliged to squash 40 students from all the three years of schooling into one hall, so that they can practice painting and sculpture. We lack space and funding. Three years ago, an effort was made to change the law, but we are still waiting,» said Kritikos. The daily life of the 40 students (including 15 female students) is not an easy one. They work on marble from eight in the morning and then engage in painting, sculpture, architectural drawings and art history classes. Work is carried out in inappropriate venues where there is no protection from the marble dust, while many of the classes take place at a municipal school built at the time of Ioannis Kapodistrias, in the 19th century. During their free time, students practice with local marble sculptors, in order to become familiar with their art. Right next to the School of Fine Arts, the students are witnessing the completion of an impressive building which will house the Museum of Marble. The work has been placed under the Third Community Support Framework and is co-funded by Piraeus Bank. By the end of the year, its halls (800 square meters) will be hosting exhibits related to the history of marble sculpture, the process of quarrying and chiseling, constructions and decoration. Preserving the historical past is the right way to go, but perhaps the state should also take a look at those who represent the future of marble sculpture.