Symi’s International Art Scene - More Good News from Greece

The small Dodecanese island of Symi has appealed to foreign artists for many years. One only has to think back to Daniel Spoerri, an exhibition dedicated to whose work was presented by Walter Blumberger in the downstairs of the old Symi Visitor office in 2007.  Jytte Loehr,  Cobi Sanders, Wolfgang Rehbach and many others have found Symi an inspiring and stimulating environment in which to pursue their muse.

As the summer season draws to a close Symi’s main art galleries report a very successful season.  The Monday evening wine nights at the Symi Dream Gallery at the top of the Kali Strata steps have drawn at least 857 people to date, many of whom have then spent the rest of the evening in the various tavernas, restaurants, bars and cafes in Chorio.  Apart from providing a venue for ODAS, the Symi art group headed by Aruni Konstantinidi, for the past 4 years, the Symi Dream gallery has hosted the Symi Dreamers rolling exhibition, displaying works by artists from Greece, Australia, Germany, Denmark, Holland, the USA, Cyprus, France, Norway and Italy amongst others and at least 10 pieces are known to have been sold, not counting the four sold by Christina Kirk and the ones she auctioned which raised 80 euros for art materials for the junior school. 

Local artist in residence, Ian Haycox, whose work can be seen at the Symi Gallery, the upper floor of an old Kali Strata mansion house, just down from the Kali Strata bar has sold 7 pieces to a wide range of  nationalities and provided the following observations:

I came to paint in Greece after a period of working as a lecturer in charge of an art history section in a further education college.  In this role I often read all kinds of research relating to the subject.  One interesting study completed by an American university was an analysis of viewers responses to pictures exhibited in galleries and museums.  The conclusions reached stated simply were that the majority of gallery visitors would spend around three to five seconds looking at pictures.  Anyone spending six to ten seconds would be looking at a piece that they really liked.  Anyone looking at a painting for over eleven seconds was generally found to be some kind of arts professional.  A dismaying conclusion for artists!

I have been exhibiting in many different locations throughout Greece for a number of years now.  I can confidently state that these conclusions do not bear any relationship to a Greek audience.  Most Greek visitors to my shows have come as couples and they have generally spent many minutes looking at works both individually and together.  They would often return to pictures repeatedly to discuss their thoughts.  Rather than the bleak picture that the American research paints the Greek experience gives artists a huge compliment.  It is very flattering to have such attention whether this leads to picture sales or not.

This situation also pertains to my experience as gallery director here in Symi.  I have hosted work by artists from all over Europe and America and the Greek response has been the same; a huge amount of attention paid to the work on exhibition!

In addition the Greek audience is prepared to buy art.  Around 50% of my sales have been to Greeks as against the rest being split between foreign visitors and foreign residents.

There is a clear message to artists - Exhibit in Greece!!

Have a good week.


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About this Blog

I sailed into Panormitis Bay, Symi, by chance one windy July day in 1993 and have been here ever since. The locals tell me that this is one of the miracles of St Michael of Panormitis. A BA graduate with majors in English, Philosophy and Classical Civilisation, the idea of living in what is to all intents and purposes an archaeological site appeals to me. Not as small as Kastellorizo, not as touristy as Rhodes, Symi is just the right size. I live on a small holding which my husband and I have reclaimed from a ruin of over-grazing and neglect and turned into a small oasis over the course of the past 22 years. I also work part-time for Symi Visitor Accommodation, helping independent travellers discover and enjoy Symi's simple pleasures for themselves.

This page is kindly sponsored by Wendy Wilcox, Symi Visitor Accommodation.

Adriana Shum

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