British sculptor's Ironwork reshapes ancient Delos island site in Greece

Α Decrease font Enlarge font
British sculptor's Ironwork reshapes ancient Delos island site in GreeceAround 165,000 holidaymakers made the trip to Delos last year

It will seem like artistic sacrilege to classicists but British sculptor Sir Antony Gormley has put a modern spin on the ancient Greek island of Delos, a barely-inhabited essentially open museum, one of the most world’s most mythological, historical, and archaeological sites.

Gormley, who in 2008 was ranked by the British newspaper The Daily Telegraph fourth on their list of the 100 Most Powerful People in British Culture, has created 29 iron ‘bodyforms’, several cast from his own body.

They are the first artworks to be installed on the island since it was inhabited more than 5,000 years ago, The Guardian wrote in a feature about the works, and Gormley, 68, who is known for works like the Angel of the North, a public sculpture in Gateshead in the North of England, and Event Horizon, a multi-part site installation featured in London, New York City, Sao Paulo and Hong Kong.

Now he’s put his distinctive rusty, iron mark on an island of marble, ruins and wonderment and where excavations are still going on to discover the treasures and mysteries of one of ancient Greece’s most noted holy sanctuaries.

It was also home to the Delian League, founded in 478 BC, an association of Greek city-states under the leadership of Athens, whose purpose was to continue fighting the Persian Empire after the Greek victory in the Battle of Plataea at the end of the Second Persian invasion of Greece. Congresses were held in the temple.

Gormley’s style is at once distinctive and yet in harmony with the surrounding landscapes and ruins.

“If this works, our hope is it will help change how people approach ancient monuments,” Dr. Demetrios Athanasoulis, who heads the department of antiquities in the Cyclades told The Guardian. “There is no past without the present, and we live in times where there are any number of windows through which to view the past.”

In an open-air archaeological site such as Delos, time travel may come easily, wrote the paper’s Helena Smith. “To be limited to the academic reading of any site’s historical significance is rather old-fashioned,” Athanasoulis told her.

It can be a forbidding site at times, sun-sparkled in the summer with the light rays bouncing off glistening white remains resisting the ravages of time, with salt winds biting away in the winter, even eating into granite and the treeless outcrop exposed to the heavens and gods.

Few artists, Athanasoulis told the paper, would be able to conceive of works that could amplify a visitor’s experience of the lost civilization, bringing back to life the geological and archaeological features, without challenging its mystical landscape and history.

OUT OF THE PAST

Visitors now see not just the glory of ancient Greece, but Gormley’s bodyforms and sculptures, foremost among them an iron statue looking like a kouros of the past, a naked young man standing alone, this one bearing the sculptor’s rusty-like handwork.

It’s called Another Time XV and it does, indeed, look almost like it was sculpted 5000 years ago and left to the weather but to stand defiant, unbowed, quiet, calmly keeping watch on the waves and those gone past.

Its gaze is firmly fixed on the horizon. “Silent and still, it has an eerily electrifying effect,” wrote Smith. It’s also looking at the tourists and visitors who still come to a place where almost no one lives in a country where millions flock to islands for vacations.

Around 165,000 holidaymakers made the trip to Delos last year, miniscule compared to the 2.5 million who went to the tourist-gouging Mykonos, where college girls dance on the tabletops of night clubs charging 1,000 euros ($1119) and more. The shuttle takes you from that scene on Mykonos to the antithesis on Delos.

There’s curious worries too that Gormley’s works will be too successful and overshadow those of the ancients still enduring for eons.

“Persuading the central archaeological council that the sculptures would neither distract nor offend wasn’t easy,” said Athanasoulis. “It took me some time to convince people of our goal to offer a new way of interpreting our relationship with antiquities through artworks that can act as a catalyst to facilitate diverse readings of the past.”

The invitation to show his work in a place where no artist has set foot for thousands of years was both “an amazing privilege and extraordinary responsibility,” he said.

Five pieces were specially commissioned for the exhibition, which is titled Sight – and in which Gormley tried to radically reinterpret the function and purpose of sculpture as seen in the ancient world. “It’s been a huge challenge but what a place to think about the human project,” he said.

Delos now shows the remains of temples, altars, sculptures, and votive offerings, magnificent ruins of a later period when the Cycladic island became a commercial center alive with merchants and slaves – all gone.

There’s what’s left of the sacred court dedicated to Apollo and Artemis, wall paintings and mosaics of preserved homes from the Hellenistic age on a rocky island less than 3.1 miles long and less than a mile wide.

Gormley said he was keenly aware of the challenges of trying to meld the modern with the ancient on a revered classic site.

“In this atmosphere of light there is a feeling of timeliness, of being outside industrial time,” he said. “Sculpture is a threshold to another attitude to time; it provides the invitation to escape mechanized time as we know it.”

Athanasoulis said he knows there will be skeptics. “It’s only natural that some won’t like what they see in Sight,” he quips. “It will end in October, and only then will we really know how successful this has been.”

Read more at thenationalherald.com

RELATED TOPICS: GreeceGreek tourism newsTourism in GreeceGreek islandsHotels in GreeceTravel to GreeceGreek destinations Greek travel marketGreek tourism statisticsGreek tourism report

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons License: CC-BY-SA Copyright: Bernard Gagnon

Tornos
  1. 21/07 20:03

    New Democracy government moving fast to end Campus asylum in Greece

  2. 21/07 19:59

    Halloumi cheese burger at Burger Kings in UK and Sweden

  3. 21/07 19:18

    Exquisite Artemis and Apollo statues unearthed at ancient Roman home excavation in Crete

  4. 21/07 17:45

    ESM chief Regling: The Greek government has made a good start

  5. 21/07 15:39

    New Greek government bill will cut ENFIA property tax by more than 20%

  6. 21/07 13:32

    Minister: National Energy and Climate Plan to be tabled in Greece by end year

  7. 21/07 10:46

    Simplification of procedures and services a bet for new Greek government

  8. 20/07 19:53

    Media report: FaceApp craze sweeps across Greece despite privacy warnings

  9. 20/07 19:52

    Greek authorities enlist Airbnb’s help to tackle tax evasion

  10. 20/07 19:28

    Newly elected Greek PM Mitsotakis to announce immediate tax cuts

  11. 20/07 17:24

    New Minister to support farmers and protect the environment in Greece

  12. 20/07 15:06

    Civil protection chief: Attica quake activity subsides, 'no need for concern'

  13. 20/07 11:37

    Cutlural Tourism: New biography of Eva Palmer Sikelianos

  14. 20/07 09:47

    New government spokesman: Life in Athens back to normal after tremor

  15. 19/07 22:17

    Greek Tourism Ministry issues instructions for visitors to follow in event of earthquake

  16. 19/07 20:54

    120-installment debt repayment scheme set for boost by new Greek government

  17. 19/07 18:37

    Athens city: Most of 15 quake-damaged buildings are abandoned structures

  18. 19/07 18:33

    New Archbishop of Australia makes first pastoral visit to Perth church

  19. 19/07 18:27

    25th Kalamata International Dance Festival opens in Greece on Friday

  20. 19/07 18:08

    ΙΑΤΑ: Poor air traffic control means summer of wasted emissions and delays

  21. 19/07 17:59

    Minister: Research and innovation a 'central strategic priority' now in Greece

  22. 19/07 16:50

    Tourists at the Athens Acropolis react calmly to earthquake

  23. 19/07 14:47

    5.1 R tremor felt in Greek capital of Athens with no major damages reported

  24. 19/07 14:24

    Greek banks to begin charging non-customers more for ATM cash withdrawals

  25. 19/07 13:08

    Cyprus to establish full diplomatic relations with North Macedonia

  26. 19/07 11:08

    New Greek Prime Minister meets with chief of Fairfax investment group

  27. 18/07 22:08

    New Minister greenlights Cosco investments in Greek port of Piraeus with hotels and mall

  28. 18/07 21:54

    Heavily-armed police to monitor tourist spots in Athens

  29. 18/07 21:43

    Guide to ouzo from the Greek island of Chios

  30. 18/07 20:41

    New record in container traffic at Greek port of Piraeus

  31. 18/07 20:29

    Film Tourism: Tom Hanks cast as Elvis’ manager Tom Parker in new movie

  32. 18/07 19:58

    4th EU-Arab World Summit to be held in Athens at the end of October

  33. 18/07 19:43

    New Athens mosque not expected to operate prior to end of 2019

  34. 18/07 19:30

    New parliament president elected in Greece by vast majority

  35. 18/07 18:57

    BoG report: Greek state budget records primary deficit during H1 2019

  36. 18/07 18:52

    New Investments Minister meets with Israeli Ambassador in Greece

  37. 18/07 18:12

    Greek firms promote strategic investment in social responsibility

  38. 18/07 16:50

    Athens to propose Margaritis Schinas as its new EU Commissioner

  39. 18/07 12:10

    Health Tourism: Ministry to sign pacts with medical care partners in Greece

  40. 17/07 22:54

    Greek Orthodox Archbishop Elpidophoros meets with US President

  41. 17/07 22:33

    Greek airports record 5.3% rise in traffic during H1 2019

  42. 17/07 22:08

    US Ambassador to Athens Pyatt: Greece is now a source of solutions

  43. 17/07 21:28

    Kostas Loulis new Secretary-General of Tourism in Greece

  44. 17/07 19:59

    North Macedonia FM: Positive climate in Greece benefits whole region

  45. 17/07 19:15

    Minoan Theater: A reinvestment in excellence and spirit in Greek

  46. 17/07 16:59

    New Greek Prime Minister says Greek bond sale will attract investors

  47. 17/07 15:35

    Friday the last day of traffic restrictions in downtown Athens this summer

  48. 17/07 12:19

    Tourist arrivals to Cyprus drop in June and during first six months of 2019

  49. 17/07 11:53

    Greece's newly elected parliament sworn in on Wednesday (video)

  50. 17/07 10:43

    Newly appointed Greek Foreign Minister Dendias visits the United States

  51. 16/07 22:51

    Parga: The gem of Epirus and the Ionian Sea in Western Greece

  52. 16/07 22:50

    New York Euripides Summer Festival presenting two classic masterpieces

  53. 16/07 22:47

    Grand Resort Lagonissi opens new Grand Hall conference center in Athens

  54. 16/07 22:30

    Tax authorities: Over 20,000 Airbnb Greek properties still not registered

  55. 16/07 22:21

    Classical music festival returns to Greek islands of Koufonisia for 4th year

  56. 16/07 22:15

    E-real estate network chief: AirBnB effect in Athens focuses on inner city district

  57. 16/07 22:08

    Greek-American TV persona Maria Menounos wins on Celebrity Family Feud

  58. 16/07 21:07

    ANIMART festival on Greek island of Hydra from July 22 until July 31

  59. 16/07 20:47

    Jewish communities in Greece welcome Minister's denunciation of neo-Nazi past

  60. 16/07 20:19

    Study: ‘Athens triangle’ becoming Greek capital’s new place to be

  61. 16/07 19:42

    New exhibition titled “Art: Response to Conflict” opens in Athens

  62. 16/07 18:33

    Moody's upgrades outlook for three systemic Greek banks

  63. 16/07 16:15

    Algean Property Ionian Sea Report 2019: "Everlasting Experience"

  64. 16/07 15:56

    3200 hotel CEOs reveal top hospitality and leisure trends for 2019

  65. 16/07 15:18

    Kimisis tis Theotokou Hamptons Greek Festival a great success (video)

  66. 16/07 14:52

    ESM chief: Reform drive of new Greek government to stimulate investments welcome

  67. 16/07 12:37

    Sheraton’s new logo appears on hotels worldwide for first time in over 40 years

  68. 16/07 12:29

    Minister: Seven-year bond yield records return of Greek economy to normality

  69. 16/07 10:20

    TripAdvisor: Online reviews still a trusted source of information when booking trips

  70. 16/07 00:54

    Canal d'Amour: the famous beach of lovers on the Greek island of Corfu

  71. 16/07 00:27

    Greek Public Debt Management Organisation to launch seven-year bond

  72. 15/07 22:25

    EU announces measures against Turkey's illegal drilling in Cyprus' EEZ

  73. 15/07 22:00

    Greek state budget shows primary surplus of €382 million in January-June

  74. 15/07 21:07

    New Greek government to cut ENFIA property tax 30% within two years

  75. 15/07 21:06

    Legendary yacht of Onassis ‘Christina O’ sails into Greek island of Poros

  76. 15/07 18:02

    New Greek Finance Minister Staikouras meets with ESM Director Regling

  77. 15/07 13:07

    Athens Airport awardsTurkish Airlines for remarkable growth rate in last 5 years

  78. 15/07 11:56

    Culinary Tourism: Greek beer thrives from Antiquity to modern microbrews

  79. 14/07 23:28

    Travel & Leisure: Four Greek islands among Europe's top-5 for 2019

  80. 14/07 19:00

    Sports Tourism: Pakistan's street cricketers bring game to life in Greece

  81. 14/07 14:37

    New Greek Development Minister: Hellinikon project will move "very, very quickly"

  82. 14/07 14:29

    Well-known squat of closed Athens hotel abruptly ended after new government elected

  83. 14/07 13:51

    Initiative to invite new Greek PM to address joint session of U.S. Congress

  84. 13/07 20:18

    Opening of “Cyprus: 45 years of occupation” show in Athens

  85. 13/07 19:45

    French Ambassador: France will continue to help Greece in its economic take-off

  86. 13/07 14:50

    Chalkidiki power and water networks to be fully restored by nightfall in northern Greece

  87. 13/07 14:22

    Foods that protect the human skin from the sun

  88. 13/07 13:59

    Meteo services: Weather in Greece to worsen from Saturday evening

  89. 13/07 13:47

    Shops open in Greece on Sunday for first week of summer sales

  90. 12/07 23:48

    Film festival on Greek island of Syros takes cinema to unlikely locations

  91. 12/07 20:13

    Private sector arrears to the Greek state ease slightly down in March

  92. 12/07 17:57

    Acropolis in Athens gains its first permanent doctor

  93. 12/07 17:20

    "Greek Freak" Giannis Antetokounmpo voted Best Male Athlete in the U.S. (video)

  94. 12/07 16:44

    Greek-Swedish Antique special anniversary reunion concert for one night only

  95. 12/07 16:28

    AP: New Greek government recognizes Guaido, not Maduro, as Venezuela’s president

  96. 12/07 15:54

    Paris Hilton spotted on a yacht in Greek island of Mykonos for second year

  97. 12/07 14:17

    New energy minister in Greece to jump-start delayed Helleniko and Skouries projects

  98. 12/07 13:36

    Surf Art Festival Vol. 6 returning to Athens suburb of Faliro on July 12-14

  99. 12/07 00:41

    Greece loses battle over lower taxes for traditional Tsipouro and Tsikoudia drinks

  100. 11/07 21:40

    Festival by "The Friends of the Greek Islands and the Sea" on Sifnos