Monday, 28 April 2014

 EleniKapiri is an artist on Naxos

working in sculpture, paint , photography and poetry

Eleni Kapiri was born in 1970 in Moni, on Naxos. Her father operated a marble quarry and this brought her into direct contact with the unique qualities of Naxian marble. She began to make her first sculptures at the age of 12. At 18 she studied at the Fine Arts School of Tinos.
She has spent time in Brighton, England, in Germany, and in Athens, but most of her working life has been on Naxos, which she loves with a fierce passion and pride.
  • In 2014 she will be exhibiting her sculpture, painting and photography in the Bazeos Tower on Naxos, in Athens and in Thessaloniki.
  • In 2000 she took part in an exhibition of traditional artworks in her home village of Moni.
  • In 2001 she held an exhibition of her work at the Venetian Museum in the historic old town - the Castro - of Naxos.
  • In 2004 she participated at "Dionysia", a series of activities and events organised by the Municipality of Naxos.
  • In 2007 she held an exhibition of her paintings (she began painting in 2003) at the "Naxos Cafe".
  • In 2008 she held her own exhibition in Athens, at the Art Hall.
Many of her works are in private collections. Tragically in 1996 a great deal of her work to that time was stolen from her studio.
"Elements from the African, Indian, Maori as well as from the Buddhist sculpture of the Far East make her artworks part of the contemporary global aesthetic." Stamatina Palmou
"With her work Eleni Kapiri takes the history of human art from the very beginning. She is like the Statue of Liberty - only that instead of the torch, she is holding a paint brush or a chisel." Jimmy Efthimiou
"Tracey Emin on steroids. A unique perspective. A sense of the energy and tension in things, and a powerful connection with the natural world and her home, Naxos." David Simpson
More pictures of Eleni's sculpture, painting and photography, and translations of her poems, to follow
All images copyright © Eleni Kapiri 2013 - not to be reproduced or used without the permission of the artist.
Please email to for more information. 

The Dimitra Project
To build a sustainable, self sufficient, ecologically sound community and cultural centre on the island of Naxos in the Cyclades, Greece. To make a positive contribution to the wider community of Naxos. To grow, to evolve and to give back, to the land and to the community of Naxos.
We are looking for 200 to 300 supporters who are prepared to give some of their time and invest a small amount of capital in the project.
If you cannot get involved yourself, please support us by passing this message on to as many people as you can (even if they are not interested, they may know someone who is).
Please scroll down for more information.

Photograph© Isabel Theron 2013

The Temple of Dimitra or Demeter, Naxos c. 700 BC

Dimitra (or Demeter) is the Greek goddess of fertility.Her temple on the island of Naxos was the first to be built completely of marble including roof beams and tiles. She is very beautiful.

Design Principles for the Dimitra project
  1. Off the grid; rainwater capture and conservation (Naxos receives as much rainfall annually as East Anglia in the UK); photo voltaic generators; possibly wind turbines; possibly Peldon wheel water turbines; composting toilets; grey water capture and reed bed filtration; wood fueled stoves and cooker – grow enough biomass on site to provide own fuel.
  2. Straw bale, local stone (marble, limestone, emery) minimal use of concrete other than that required by authorities to make building earthquake proof. Straw bales provide good thermal insulation for both hot and cold weather (it snows on Naxos in the winter). Natural ventilation systems (NO air conditioning)
  3. No WIFI or mobiles except for emergencies
  4. Grow own food.
  5. Permanent community of 1 – 5 bodies.
  6. Accommodation for up to 20 guests.
  7. Courses – sculpting Naxos marble, painting, poetry and writing, guided walks on Naxos, drama, eco-building and sustainable horticulture, photography, sailing, wind and kite surfing, cycling, horse riding – use local talent as much as possible.
  8. Retreats – silent, guided, meditative, yoga, Zen.
  9. A chapel / meditation space.
Click here to email Dimitra

  1. Find and purchase site (4 in prospect) – large enough and appropriately located, with access, existing buildings (ruins for preference) and water supply.
  2. Build single room and cistern, composting loo(s), site access, install stoves.
  3. Plant / restore orchards and vegetable patch.
  4. First water capture channel at top of the site, feeding the main cistern (which will also take water off the roof).
  5. Install photovoltaic generators and electric water pumps
  6. Extend house – on going.
  7. Build second cistern at base of site to receive reed bed filtration system run off for grey water plus rainwater run off from rest of site.
  8. Extend water capture system – channels and cisterns. Rebuild / repair terrace walls. Complete buildings (accommodation for 20 guests, loos, chapel, course / classroom building).
Raise enough capital to buy site and complete phases 1 to 4 above (€60-70,000). We will be putting all our available capital into Dimitra and expect to do all or most of the work in phases 1 to 4 ourselves i.e. at no charge to Dimitra (other than our subsistence costs and the cost of materials etc). Photovoltaics and other work requiring particular expertise will be sub-contracted, if necessary – ideally we will be able to recruit experts as members or temporary volunteers.
Further fund raising and guest / course revenue will be used to fund phases 5 – 8 and whatever follows.
We intend to sell shares in Dimitra at say €200 each, to raise the capital needed. Shares can be purchased by a group (we are well aware that young people would find it hard to raise €200 and we want the demographic of the community to be as varied as possible). Each share would entitle the owner to a certain number of free days in the community per year i.e. for accommodation and food. Everyone, whether staying for free or paying to stay (daily rate to be decided – may be covered in whole or part by additional work on the site), will be expected to make a contribution to the daily life of the community, in any way that they can e.g. helping with building projects, gardening, administration, perhaps running a course). We would also like to able to offer bursaries for young people, especially from Naxos itself.
The Dimitra Trust will be incorporated in Greece as a not for profit charitable trust, with a guiding board selected by the share holders. In addition it will of course have an auditor / accountant and a lawyer, publish quarterly progress reports and audited annual accounts.
Dimitra has a website, its own email address, and a Facebook page, to communicate with supporters and shareholders and to promote Dimitra and its courses and other activities to the wider world.
Permanent occupants should own at least one share and help to pay for their food and accommodation with work, money or goods and services in kind (e.g. photovoltaic, electrical, mechanical, building or horticultural skills).
Guests (excluding their free entitlement) will have to pay a certain amount each per day and help out, and pay course fees where applicable. Course charges will be transparent and kept to the lowest practicable level (i.e. to cover direct costs, plus a small contribution to Dimitra). This is another reason for using local artists and other talent to run the courses whenever possible. Course places will be open to people staying elsewhere on Naxos.
Send no money now! When Dimitra has been incorporated and has its own bank account we will be in touch again. In the meantime, if you would like to support us and participate please let us know how many shares you potentially would be prepared to subscribe for.
All of the above are only suggestions – i.e. all interested potential shareholders will agree how Dimitra is set up, financed, controlled, and its rules and constitution.
Click here to email Dimitra
Something about Naxos
Naxos is the largest island in the Cyclades, in the Aegean. It is approximately 50 kilometres north to south and east to west although actual road distances can be considerably more as it is very mountainous. It has the highest mountains in the Cyclades and gets snow and frost most years. Thanks to natural springs parts of the island are heavily wooded and, by Aegean standards, very lush.
It feeds itself, producing 4 crops of potatoes a year (it supplies most of Greece). Many family tavernas only sell their own produce, including meat, wine and cheese. Rich culture going back 7,000 years. Dimitra's temple was built in 600BC. There is an ancient aqueduct (actually a ceramic pipe) that was built at the same time that brought fresh spring water to Naxos city from springs at Flerio, 12 kilometers away. Parts of the pipe can still be seen, following the contours down from the hills.
The old city of Naxos is a warren of tiny streets and delightful little shops and tavernas, built from the 12th Century when Naxos was part of the Venetian Empire – the streets were designed to confuse pirates who were a big problem at that period. And as a result many Naxians moved inland to the mountains to avoid the pirate attacks. Thanks to the Venetian influence, Naxos boasts a fine Catholic cathedral as well as hundreds of Orthodox churches and chapels, many of them on top of mountains.
There are fine museums in Naxos City and many ancient monuments and Venetian towers all over the island. Naxos really invented monumental marble sculpture in 7th century BC (basically it's made of the stuff – they are in the process of removing the tops of two mountains which are solid marble). Naxos has a permanent population of about 20,000, which rises to 180,000 at the height of the summer season – this puts a considerable strain on the island’s infrastructure, especially its water supply which can become more or less undrinkable in July – 160,000 people taking a shower twice a day is a lot of water. Pure spring water is available through public taps around the city and the island.
Tourism came relatively late to Naxos and it has perhaps as a result retained a lot of the character and characteristics of pre-mass travel Greece, socially and economically, away from the western coast around the main town where most of the tourist resorts are to be found. However a lot of previously cultivated land has been abandoned as people have moved to the towns and jobs in the tourism industry, and to the mainland.

Apeiranthos – a traditional mountain village in the north east of the island
Kinidaros – a lush, green valley below the modern marble quarries
Naxos (Hora) – the old Venetian citadel, seen by night from the Palatia
The Portara temple, on the Palatia, whose arch looks towards Delos
Image © Eleni Kapiri 2013

Dimitra – all content © David Simpson 2013


Sunday August 30th 2009, 9:13 to 9:40 am,
in the garden at 12 Mehetabel Road
I am sitting on a wooden folding chair at the end of the garden looking back at the house. It is a sunny morning with a cool breeze blowing. I am slightly hungover.
In my notebook I write:
another lovely morning – sunny, cool breeze, oyster shell clouds. A bit stale. Half inclined to go home now.
When the Buddha attained enlightenment, everything (one) became enlightened.
The Buddha is not out there
I am / have the Buddha.
Hence if I see him, he is a delusion.”
I am looking at the blue plastic washing line tied to the white painted brickwork on the back of the house.
Thoughts come and go. I keep returning my attention to the blue plastic line on the wall. At some point, I think towards the end of sitting, I disappear. Image – a perfect mirror and I and everyone are flecks of dust lying on or just above the mirror. It seems as if I have fallen out of my fleck of dust. I see I am just pure awareness, always have been. That out of this awareness the fleck of dust arose, could not help it, when the mirror became me, whenever that was. This all happens at once. A complete understanding – intellectual, emotional, physical. It is so simple. So everyday. The blue plastic line is still there. The sun is still shining. But I, the fleck of dust above me, is transformed, the water of life seems to pour through all of me, every aspect of my self, my past, transformed, aligned in one direction. I am not forgiven, there is nothing to forgive, nothing to judge, awareness trapped in me had no way other than to become me, to struggle in the delusion and agony, unable to see itself, the I AM. I see this is the kingdom, within me and among us, each of us trapped more or less in our little fleck but in reality, all one. Yet there is still I here, just free of all the trappings of I. Seeing the fleck and all other flecks with perfect understanding and compassion, only wanting everyone to come down here. And the whole world is brilliant, sparkling, full of love and energy.
On the bus to St Marks I want to weep, and keep laughing at the wonderful shops – a shop with a stuffed ostrich and what looks like a capuchin monkey, a shop called ‘Lie down I must tell you I love you’, an extraordinary cinema like an Egyptian temple which I have never noticed before but must have passed many times. Wanting to rush out and tell everyone it’s true, the kingdom is at hand, right here and now, and they weren’t making it up (Jesus and Buddha and Eckhart and Teresa and everyone else).
At the same time, mind rushes back. I’m so lucky, special, clever – I wonder how many others have experienced this – it is just like the tempter in the desert, almost beguiling, and I know I can never stop meditating, that it would so easy to try and take possession of this, turn it in to an idol, hug it to myself. And I’m suspicious of the urge to get up and tell everyone about this – and fearful – I want them to understand, to believe me, not to think I’m bonkers or arrogant, and I don’t feel worthy or able to do that. But I’m filled with this overwhelming love and joy and peace, and everyone I look at seems to be alight, and there isn’t somehow any necessity to tell them – they are already filled with love. And it is love, somehow agape and eros combined.
Even as I am writing this, I can barely recall the experience. The mirror or kingdom has an impersonal quality – it is not me but it is not not me. I may never have such an experience again, but I know it is real, and as I meditate, as I remain mindful, walking the dog, whatever, it is there even though I am not aware of it. The parable of the wise virgins is so important – always to have the lamp filled, the wick trimmed, waiting without grasping for the moment when one falls through the crack into all truth.
In my beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and Word was God. And light came into the world, and the darkness comprehendeth it not. In all our beginnings is the Word and it is with us for ever.
In the evening my step daughter, Laura and her husband Toby tell us they are having a baby. This morning I wrote this:
every conception an Annunciation
every mother a Virgin
every child the Word made flesh
every life a crucifixion and a resurrection
in each one of us the Cosmos created anew
At the moment (however long it lasted, I think no time at all) I fell in to the Kingdom, and I was flooded with the water of life (all the images are true, I felt like a dry desert filled with fresh rains) I wanted to rush off and read all the scriptures, the psalms, the gospels, everything to see the truth that was written in them (and perhaps the falseness too).
All through the retreat, just sitting in the Zendo with my eyes open, they felt dry and gritty. Now they are filled with tears and are refreshed. And so appropriate that it is a Sunday morning, in a garden like the one where Mary found the empty tomb.
Still a question remains. Should I not have got up and shouted at everyone in St Marks, that I have been in the Kingdom and it is here with us all and it’s all true, and that Mother Julian had it exactly right only I would change the tense – all things are well and all manner of things are well and there is no sin in the world, only delusion and ignorance. Let those who have ears hear, let those who have eyes see.