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Weaving Process

April 5, 2016

This film shows the process for preparing the threads for Fitiotiko weaving.

It is narrated in Greek Рwe hope to offer english subtitles or voiceover at some time but certainly non-greek speakers can watch the process and see how elaborate it is.

Film made and narrated by Angeliki Christodoulou and featuring Irini Stefanou and other women from the Fyti village. Edited by Sarah Dixon.

 

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‘Avant-Garde’ Phitiotika Seminar at Frederick University – A Report

March 21, 2013

By Maura McKee and Sarah Dixon

Maura McKee presents

Maura McKee presents

In a time where financial crises are challenging us to rethink our values, Sarah Dixon and Maura McKee encountered a Cyprus awakening to its past while looking to the future. Following our report into the status of Phitiotika weaving in 2010 we were invited back to participate in a seminar on Phitiotika at Frederick University in Nicosia. The Laona Foundation, who supported our initial investigation, had been able to generate enough interest in this ancient but neglected tradition at the fashion department to persuade them to host a seminar supported by the Leventis Foundation, which was well attended by some leading Cypriot designers and artists as well as Phyti’s traditional weavers and numerous students of fashion and design.

Sarah, who spoke at the Guild last year about the Phitiotika tradition and its current status, wasn’t able to travel but sent a short ‘hello’ video which Maura showed before giving the presentation. We wanted to inspire the students in particular to make links between current global trends in craft and design, and ‘the power of making’, with the significance of maintaining links with their unique past.

Weaving in Cyprus was traditionally carried out in every household by young girls and women, who would spend years developing pieces to display at their wedding day along with cloths inherited from their mothers, grandmothers, and other relatives and ancestors. Depicted in a local church fresco of 1494, Phitiotika is particular to the Western side of the island and is associated with the village of Phiti which acted as a trading centre. It can be seen from the fresco that although weavers do invent new designs, inspired by daily life, the brightly colourful brocade patterns of this type of weaving have altered little over several centuries.
Maura McKee and weavers from Fyti village

Maura McKee with three weavers from Fyti village

Women do still practice but they are mostly the older generation and the enormous socio-economic changes of the last thirty-fifty years have placed a huge gulf between a non-industrial but very recent past and the aspirations and possibilities for younger generations now seeking careers and study choices (many of whom were encouraged to do so by the older generation). Cypriot weaver, Julia Astreou, spoke in detail about both the decline in practice and the practice itself, accompanied by some remarkable images from Phiti almost 40 years ago when she herself made a journey into Cyprus’s textile roots. A former member of the Handicraft Service and a practising artist/weaver who is frequently consulted on Cyprus’s textile history, Ms Astreou herself remarked she was inspired by the seminar and our presentation and intends to become further involved in the cause of Phitiotika.

When we first encountered the work and the women, in Fyti village we were very excited to realise that many of the skills of the weaving itself and some of the associated work such as cotton and wool spinning, and the making of looms and tools, were still being practised – but only just. This is of course a commonplace pattern that we have seen in our own countries and across the globe, yet the lament of the older women that their daughters took no interest and just wanted to shop at IKEA, leaving their old hand-woven family blankets to the dog, was no less moving for that. This drove us to investigate further with the hope of provoking some Cypriots to take enough interest to engage with this knowledge before it was too late.

It is therefore very exciting to report that the audience seemed to be very stimulated by the presentation, which covered everything from yarn-bombing to weaving in architecture. Some of the daughters of Fyti’s weavers commented that they hadn’t realised how interesting this work was and they intended to take much more interest in their own mother’s or grandmother’s practice. Assistant Professor at the university, Yiannis Toumazis, was moved to announce his intention that students would now look at the traditional patterns in Phitiotika as inspiration for future design projects. Fashion designers in attendance were excited by the engagement of young art and fashion students, and the idea of contemporary appreciation of an old craft. It was even said that the conference was ‘avant-garde’ and numerous contacts were made between weavers and others, including Pafos Chamber of Commerce, staff at the university’s fashion department, Nicosia Municipal Arts Centre and a new Nicosia-based student arts activism collective.

Phitiotika is evolving

Phitiotika is evolving

There are still big challenges facing the practice, such as the lack of formal training and consequent low status of weaving as an option for an ambitious young artist, yet there are some new weaving students in Phiti and a thriving arts scene in the major cities. With the interest of Frederick University and its students we hope the practice is at least now on the country’s cultural radar and can start to integrate itself into Cyprus’ future.

Find Out More

Seminar on Phyti Weaving for Fashion Department, Frederick University

February 11, 2013
Seminar on Phiti weaving

The upcoming Seminar

Frederick Seminar Invitation

The Fashion Department at Frederick University along with the Laona Foundation will host a seminar on 20th February 2013, on the value and relevance of Phitiotika weaving.

Maura McKee and Sarah Dixon are delighted to be among the speakers who also include weaver and artist Julia Astreou.

Sarah said ‘We’re very excited to be invited to Cyprus for this important seminar. Phitiotika weaving is still practised but only a few women still know the full process of making cloth from spun cotton. This is a chance to inspire a new generation to draw on the cultural wealth of Cyprus and we will demonstrate many examples from around the world, of how ancient traditions can breathe life into the future of art and design.’

Maura added ‘Weaving in Northern Ireland has undergone a similar decline and I will draw on my own experiences to show how this loss can be averted and the heritage and history embodied in the practise can enrich the present and the future.’

Presentations and a short film will be made available online after the seminar.

For more information please contact Sarah Dixon on silkyd@gmail.com

Fytiotika Weaving in Cyprus: Detailed Report Now Online

June 15, 2011
Fytiotika Weaving Report

Fytiotika Weaving Report

 

A full and detailed report on the status and possibilities for Fytiotika weaving in Cyprus is now available. Read it, get inspired, and get involved!
Enjoy. And many thanks to the Laona Foundation and the weavers of Fyti, for helping us make this happen.

FytiWeavingReport.pdf

Summary Report is Available

February 16, 2011

The Phitiotika Summary Report is now available – download here.

The full report is on its way.

 

Weaving at Degree Level

November 19, 2010
Weaving in London Universities - Download PDF

Weaving in London Universities - Download PDF

We have gathered some info on people and courses at the University of Arts in London, that relate to and incorporate traditional weaving practices.

It forms one of the Appendices to our report, which we pr0mise, will be available soon!

Download PDF – London Weaving Courses

Who Wants to Weave?

November 19, 2010
Weaving is popular - the proof!

This publisher is inviting readers to vote for what to publish next. Weaving is one of the more popular topics. Fytians: want to write a book?

Who wants to weave? This is a question many were asking us in Cyprus.

Well, here in the UK crafts such as weaving are experiencing a lively uplift, and textile arts are becoming increasingly incorporated into both arts and design degree courses. More on this in the next post…

And new publisher HowTo crafts might be making a book about Weaving – click the pic to see for yourself and cast a vote!

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