“..gathered fragments of mythology, folklore and memories in Cyprus.”
MEET MARGARET PARASKOS
Artist and Director of the Cyprus College of Art in Lemba
Margaret Paraskos was born in Leeds and grew up in Canterbury. She spent many of her summer holidays in Paphos with her family and later went on to study Fine Art at the University of Brighton. After graduation, Paraskos completed her Master’s Degree at the University of Northampton. Today, she is an Artist and Director of the Cyprus College of Art in Lemba, which she runs with her son, Emilio Koutsoftides.
Her father was the late Stass Paraskos, who is, without question, one of Cyprus’ leading artists and the founder of the Cyprus College of Art in Lemba. His brightly coloured figurative paintings are in the collection of the Tate Gallery in London.
Paraskos grew up spending much of her time at the Cyprus College of Art and the influence of her father can clearly be seen in her work. She works on canvas with oil paint and is inspired by “gathered fragments of mythology, folklore and memories of Cyprus”. These visual sequences, together with archaeological artefacts, are seemingly random and chaotic, but “in my paintings become ordered and whole, creating a new myth”, she said. She goes on to explain that, “memories, history, folklore and myth are an endless source of subject matter for my work”. Her art clearly shows an admiration for Henri Matisse through his use of strong colours and compositions.
Her own paintings are bright and bold with free flowing gestures, partly inspired by her surroundings at the Cyprus College of Art. Paraskos says, “through rich colours, abstract shapes and personal symbols”, she is seeking to express strong emotions through her art.
Her works have been regularly exhibited in Cyprus and overseas and are included in the collections at The Stanley and Audrey Burton Gallery at Leeds University, the Zambellas Museum in Nicosia and the Larnaca Town Hall Collection. Her last exhibition, entitled ‘Nostos’, was held at Palia Ilektriki Cultural Centre in Paphos as part of the 2017 City of Culture celebrations. In 2020, she is planning a solo exhibition at the Blue Iris Art Gallery in Paphos.
The Cyprus College of Art will also be rebuilt and renovated throughout 2020 but will still be open to international students from universities in the UK, as alternative accommodation has been utilised so that the college can continue to operate. When the building work is complete, this will signal a new start for the college as the workshops will be open to the public.
As Paraskos states, “We will also have a new exhibition space. The first exhibition will be to celebrate the work of my father, Stass, and all his achievements through bringing artists and art students to work in Cyprus. My great sadness is that he will not be here to see the college being rebuilt and to see how much he has achieved. His spirit though, is still very much in Lemba.”
Article by Cyprus in Style Magazine.