Meet Yiota Ioannidou, leading Paphos Bronze Sculptor

The Girl and the Sparrow sculptor, Yiota Ioannidou, is a Paphos-based artist who lives with her husband and two sons in Tala. She was born in Paphos and is a great advocate of the town. Her sculptures are very well-known and positioned in various locations including the Paphos Harbour, Old Town Paphos and Argaka. She is a great believer in Public Art and sharing her work so it can be seen by all.


“I LIKE TO EXHIBIT MY ART IN PUBLIC SPACES”

Interview by Cyprus in Style Magazine: September 2019

WHEN DID YOU KNOW YOU WISHED TO BECOME AN ARTIST?

From a very early age I was always drawing and creating. I knew even before starting school that I wanted to be an artist.

WHERE DID YOU STUDY?

I studied at the School of Fine Arts in Athens. One of my lecturers there was Panayiotis Tetsis, who was a big influence on my work. Initially, I studied painting and drawing but I followed with sculpture. It was by accident that I specialised in sculpture. The painting studios were so busy with people and I preferred the peace of the sculpture studio. The sculptural lecturer saw my work there and that is where I stayed for the following 3 years and specialised in sculpture.

WHICH ARTISTS ARE YOU INFLUENCED BY?

I absorb many influences around me. I have great admiration for the Cypriot sculptural artist, Angelos Makrides, who also studied at the School of Fine Arts in Athens before me.

I am also very fond of the Polish sculptor, Igor Mitoraj, who produced sculptures heavily influenced by the classical tradition, but always with a modern angle. I also admire the Italian sculptor, Giacomo Manzu, who often worked in bronze, as I favour this material for my works. My sculptures are often positioned near the sea and exposed to the harsh weather and salt.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE VENUE FOR EXHIBITING?

Without question, I like to exhibit my work in public spaces. I firmly believe that this takes them to a wider audience. PAFOS 2017 gave me the chance to see how public artworks can be seen by a bigger audience. This gives me the opportunity, as an artist, to communicate through my art with the public, rather than just an elite few in the art world. I have four of my works positioned in public places and they have been seen by a huge number of spectators. I want my art to be inclusive and available for everybody who wants to see it outside of a gallery setting.

I see the placing of one of my works as a huge responsibility. The public space does not belong to me. I am putting work on display without the permission of the spectator but I hope that they appreciate it. My work is also included in art collections around the world in Kuwait, Greece, USA and of course Cyprus.

ARE YOU INFLUENCED BY THE NATURAL LANDSCAPE AROUND YOU HERE IN PAPHOS?

The sea, for me, makes me see things in a different way. The sea and myths of Cyprus certainly inspire me. With my sculptures being positioned near the sea they have to be done in bronze otherwise they would not survive the exposure to salt water. The longer they are there, the more character will develop in the bronze and I look forward to seeing these developments.

EXPLAIN THE ICONOGRAPHY IN SOME OF YOUR MOST FAMOUS WORKS.

For example, in The Girl with the Sparrow it is because I want to bring back the children and the birds to the square. Sparrows are birds that never live in cages. They are always free and this is why I like them. The purpose of this sculptural composition in the square is expressing my own interest in my city – Paphos. Almost every city has at least one central and other smaller public squares, which are often a source of history and culture. The purpose of this sculptural composition in the square of administration is to redefine the role of the square in the city and to attract visitors.

It is not just a way for me to actively express my interest in the city but also a way of dealing with a public, urban space and how it influences our human senses.

Sol Alter is another one of my sculptures positioned next to the Paphos Castle and represents a young, contemporary Aphrodite who is secretly glancing at the landscape of Cyprus, trying to penetrate the beauty, mythical life and existence. Sol Alter stands for ‘other sun’ which was the name given to Aphrodite by Pythagoras.

DO YOU FEEL SUPPORTED IN THE ARTS BY THE PAPHOS MUNICIPALITY?

I have received great support from the Paphos Municipality. They have listened to my ideas and enabled me to take them forward by allowing me to exhibit in public spaces. Such is my passion to make art available to everyone that I have provided the sculptures with no payment. I would very much like to encourage other artists to do the same and create something very special in Paphos.

HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO YOUR LATEST SCULPTURAL WORK IN PAPHOS?

The Girl and the Sparrow had one of the birds stolen from it. I replaced the bird which had been stolen and it was taken again. It is not a problem unique to Paphos. Through my travels across Europe I have seen this happen a lot to public sculptures. It is just one of those unfortunate things and does not deter me from continuing with public displays.

Maybe in other countries the whole sculpture would have disappeared!

WHAT ARE YOUR FUTURE PLANS?

I generally don’t have time to think about the future. I am working and concentrating on the present. Whilst I am involved in projects abroad, anything else is at a very early stage. I am delighted that my most recent sculpture of a little girl, entitled ‘The Circle’, was donated by Mr Henry Jiang to be displayed in the Old Town of Paphos.

Everything is moving fast as new ideas become outdated within a very short space of time. Staying one step ahead all the time is a great challenge. However, I am currently working on delivering two new projects. At the moment they are nearing completion and I am working very hard to finish them.

HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE REGENERATION OF PAPHOS?

I think what they are doing in the Old Town has made a tremendous difference to Paphos. The restoration of so many buildings, new businesses and street art are all to be admired. I like most of what they have done.

I think we need to see more art and sculptures by different artists to really create a route where art can be displayed. This could really be a great attraction for Paphos.


Interview by Cyprus in Style Magazine.

Written by Sarah Coyne