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Abi Daker

Tell us about your background, when did you first start, where have you studied art etc…

I started drawing when I was about two years old and never really stopped – it’s the thing I like doing best. I had some watercolour lessons from a friend of my dad’s when I was about ten or eleven, then I was lucky enough to go to a school with a fantastic art department, where the tutors were absolutely rigorous about drawing and art history. I then went to Art College for a year and after that the University of Reading for four years. I studied fine art, art history and classics in my first year and then concentrated on painting during the final three years.

When did you come to Cyprus and how did you see things here?

I moved here last June. We’d visited before and I loved the landscape and the light. I was also fascinated by the classical history of the island.

Tell us about your work and what inspires you?

When I was a child I was interested in trying to represent the three-dimensional world in two dimensions. Then I realised that there is more to a view or a figure than its physical three-dimensional space – there’s also the passage of time, the movement of objects within a space. This is why I can’t work just from a single photo – I have to visit a place repeatedly and paint it everyday – the light changes, objects in a scene move, people walk through it; even if you’re looking at a landscape, your view of it changes as you move through it.

I frequently see views or scenes that look just right and the paintings are really a way of working out why that view is so pleasing. I painted Paphos castle from that angle because we were walking around the headland one day and all of a sudden, the view of the harbour looked perfect – it just seemed to balance right and I had to try and work out why that was.

What is your view on art in Cyprus?

Contemporary art in Cyprus is very interesting and I’ve seen some great work since I’ve been here. People seem to be very receptive to art here and in a far more positive way than they are back in the UK.

What kind of changes do you think, as an artist, could be done in Cyprus?

It would be great if there were a good website about modern art history in Cyprus that was accessible in English, and if there were a better wikipedia entry for Cypriot art. The difficulty with Cyprus is that it has a strong classical history, which tends to be the focus for a lot of people here and perhaps means that they don’t seek out contemporary art.

Also, the majority of casual visitors to Paphos, for example, go away having only visited the En Plo Gallery, which doesn’t accurately reflect the variety of work being produced in the area. And it’s maintained so badly that it gives a very negative impression about art in the area.

Can an artist survive solely on his work today?

I think it’s very difficult. The difficulty is balancing the time you spend producing your work and the time you spend marketing your work.

What is your current work focused on?

My work always focuses on things I see around me – whether that’s a landscape, interior or part of a building. I’ve been painting the mosaics a lot because I take my son for walks there and I keep seeing different areas of it that I want to paint – I’d never seen them in the spring before and they’re amazing.

Interview taken by Natalie Hadjiadamos

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