The “beneficial” Crete of Florentini Skouloudis-Kaloutsis (1890-1971)

I created two hundred and fifty designs with old Cretan, countryside and Minoan motifs trying to unite what is beautiful with what is beneficial.

Florentini Kaloutsis

 

It is not an easy decision to organize an exhibition of art and crafts in a Gallery, even if it is about a historically recognizable figure, such as the Cretan painter and designer Florentini Skouloudis-Kaloutsis. The peculiarity and complexity of her manifold artistic activity need to be comprehended. It is essential to take into account her gender as well as the context of her activity, so that stereotypes – such as the issue of “folk” art that follows her work and its national/local “benefit” that continues to fuel our national identity myths – are put under the microscope of critical reflection. Now, however, 130 years after her birth, we believe that the time is ripe for a sober historical reassessment of her work and, through it, of our modern cultural history and heritage.

 

Painting activity

Florentini Kaloutsis, née Skouloudis, was born in 1890 in Rethymnon into a wealthy and educated bourgeois family[1], which moved to Chania shortly afterwards. In 1906, Florentini, a young girl of 16 years of age, settled in London to study painting, first at the Dulwich High School and then at Westminster School of Art[2]. She was taught among others by the naturalist-post-impressionist painter Walter Sickert (1860-1942), receiving a Teacher-Artist Certificate in 1912 from the Royal Drawing Society.

In 1912, Skouloudis returned to Chania and opened her own painting studio in the centre of the town, as a professional artist[3]. She participated in many exhibitions in Crete and in Athens[4], she was appreciated and recognised[5], and she was actively involved in the dissemination of Fine Arts in her island[6], while she was also teaching painting. Her painted work (signed Skouloudis or Skouloudis-Kaloutsis)[7] is characterized by naturalism with post-impressionistic influences and mainly depicts Cretan landscapes, aspects of the city of Chania and scenes from everyday life. At the same period, she painted portraits of her family and close family friends, e.g. of the politician and prime minister Eleftherios Venizelos and King Alexander’s morganatic wife, Aspasia Manos.

 

 

The “discovery” of traditional weaving and its “revival”

From the year 1913 Florentini began visiting the Cretan countryside around Chania, showing an interest in poor rural families. Obviously influenced by the Arts and Crafts movement[8], her attention was drawn to women’s handicraft production, which she regarded as a comprehensive and completely autonomous form of art. Some years later, she wrote to Angeliki Hatzimichali, who played a decisive role in the establishment of “folk” art in Greece:

When I returned to Crete from London, where I studied painting, I sadly saw that the use of the Cretan loom had completely died out, and that the women who used to weave fabrics, were now knitting laces and had burnt most of their looms as firewood…[9]

That was one of the reasons she started experimenting with weaving alongside painting. At first she started with the help of some old weavers from Crete who were still working with traditional techniques and materials. Some years later she established a workshop which by 1925 transformed into a small artisan business called Diplous Pelekys (Double Axe) – Cretan Weavery. After the first successful presentation of her weaved collection in the Athens Lyceum Club of Greek Women in 1926[10], Kaloutsis[11] gradually established many selling points in Athens and other smaller Greek cities (apart from Chania, also in Heraklion, Thessaloniki, Patra and Corfu), while she also received commissions from abroad. At the beginning of the 1930s the workshop in Chania employed around 200 women and comprised 150 looms. Kaloutsis also collaborated with women who worked from home.

 

Women’s associations, organized charity and artisan activity

Kaloutsis’ business activity is not an isolated example but falls within the broader context of major economic and social transformations which took place in Greece in the late 19th and the first half of the 20th century.

Due to ongoing warfare, raids against rural population and successive economic crises in the small free Greek state, the second half of the 19th century saw an internal migration of populations to Athens, which led to increased poverty, particularly for women and children who faced impoverishment and exploitation in various ways.

In an effort to deal with this situation, various associations resorted to organized charity, initially creating shelters for girls and women as to ensure their survival. The sheltered women were trained in various techniques which helped them earn their living, often without being away from home.[12] At the same time, bourgeois women regarded charity as a widely respected social activity;[13] a practice which was very common in many European countries from the second half of the 19th century onwards (England, Finland, Hungary etc.).[14]

Queen Amalia founded the Amalieion Orphanage (1855) in Athens, where interns were taught embroidery, sewing and other related techniques.[15] The establishment of such associations, clubs and other organizations (Ladies for Women’s Education Club or The Poor Women’s Association (1872), Poor Women’s Workshop (1872), “Ergani AthenaLadies Club (1896-1897) which was renamed to National Women’s Club (1911),[16] Greek Royal School of Hand-Crafts (1903) founded by Lady Egerton and the Lyceum Club of Greek Women (1911)),  often with the support of Greek or foreign institutions, has been continuous, at least until the 1930s, and they were significantly reduced in number only after the end of World War II (1944-1945) and the Greek Civil War (1946-1949).[17]

In Greece, however, the founding of women’s handicraft associations, despite their obvious social dimension, soon took on the role of preserving Greece’s national identity because of the defeat in the Thirty Days’ War with Turkey in 1897 and the Asia Minor Catastrophe in 1922-1923. These two events marked the country’s history during the first half of the 20th century in all aspects of daily life: there was a geometric growth of population in the major urban centres, accompanied by a burst of unemployment. Thus, women’s handicraft made the “weak” parts of the poverty-stricken refugee population particularly useful, without forcing them to neglect their family obligations. The chance for impoverished women and refugees to work through the handicraft associations served “patriotic” purposes. Kallirhoe Parren, editor of the Ephemeris ton kyrion (Ladies’ Journal) (1887-1917)[18], founder of the Lyceum Club of Greek Women and leading figure of the feminist movement in Greece in the late 19th and early 20th century,[19] argued that women’s labour, and especially handicraft, served not only their families but also the nation itself, creating happy families and happy citizens.

 

 

Florentini Kaloutsis: Art and Crafts

So, it is no wonder that Florentini Kaloutsis, a wealthy, educated, cosmopolitan woman, financially independent and sensitive to women’s rights issues through a widely accepted patriotic prism[20], switched her focus from the art workshop to the “collective” handicraft workshop.

In 1926, Fotos Politis, a distinguished scholar and author, commented that:

“…[Kaloutsis] works infinitely more positively for the freedom of the Greek woman than any other social feminist [meaning the suffragettes] …”[21]

Elena Venizelos, prime minister’s wife and Kaloutsis’ friend[22], wrote in her autobiography regarding the early days of Kaloutsis’ handicraft activity:

She came up with the idea in 1914, after seeing the great poverty of the villagers of Crete”[23]

From the above, it is made clear that the founding of Florentini Kaloutsis’ workshop was based on a well-established bourgeois concept that combined beliefs about charity with the demand for women’s emancipation. This perception was part of the patriotic duty prevailing over any social claim.

However, the Diplous Pelekys was not a charity but a craft business that soon proved profitable, like other clubs and partnerships of the same period.[24] Their main focus was the “revival” of folk tradition (e.g. the Attica, Greek Village Embroideries, founded by Loukia Zygomalas in 1915, the handicraft exhibitions during the short revival of the Delphic Celebrations in 1927 and 1930, the Handicraft Workshops’ Association founded by Angeliki Hatzimichali in 1931[25], the “Greek Arts” SA in the early 1930s[26], etc.).

However, despite persistent reference to “folk art”, all authenticity of Greek folk art had been substantially lost after the mid-19th century and the widespread urbanization. Its revival, initially through associations and later through various workshops, under the “umbrella” of charity, women’s emancipation and patriotic service, transformed the character of folk art into a different practice. The handicrafts became nationwide, cut off from their origins, but cladded with the narrative of safeguarding the tradition.[27] Unions and workshops were promoted as an invaluable national capital and were financially supported by state resources, either by the Liberal Party and its leader, Eleftherios Venizelos, until about 1935, or by dictator Ioannis Metaxas, from 1936 until the eruption of World War II in 1940.[28]

 

The dualmeaning of Diplous Pelekys

Within this context, Florentini Kaloutsis organised her workshop on the model of workshops that already existed in Athens, as well as in Britain. Being associated with the Arts and Crafts movement[29] she could appreciate the contemporary artistic and commercial aspects of reviving what she called “folk” art. The relation between her determination to “preserve” folk art and the management of a successful business focused not only on identifying and promoting local technical skillfulness[30] and high-quality craftsmanship (natural colours and materials), as she perceived them in her attempt to revive the art of weaving by organising traineeships and employment for women and girls of the Cretan countryside. Equally important were technical innovation, diversity and the symbolic load of patterns in her compositions. In addition to local folk art patterns, thanks to her Fine Arts studies and in combination with the excavations of the Palace of Knossos which were led by Arthur Evans[31], Kaloutsis was the first to focus on and be inspired by the findings of Minoan excavations.[32] The “Minoan Civilization” was established by the international scientific community as the starting point of European civilization, and was gradually recognized worldwide. Greeks, and especially Cretans, regarded it almost immediately as yet another piece in constructing both a national and local past of greatness which dated back to remote depths in Antiquity, way before Homer’s epic poems.

Kaloutsis was aware of the works that were underway in Knossos and, as evidenced, in the early 1920s, she asked for the excavation team’s permission to study the findings,[33] whereas she also resorted to archaeological publications which were hard to get hold of at the time, wherein pictures of the findings were available.[34] On graph paper which was custom ordered from Britain,[35] she would skilfully and carefully draw excavated objects, and then she would render them freely, as patterns, in her own personal compositions. Thanks to the accuracy of this paper and following her instructions, her assistants were able to transfer her designs, in full detail, on textile applications using traditional weaving techniques and natural materials.

Fired by her desire to further demonstrate the link between her local studio, located in Chania, and the island’s prehistoric past, Kaloutsis named her business “Diplous Pelekys(Double Axe), after one of the most renowned findings of the Minoan excavations.

The response was prompt and she was met with success. In 1926, she held her first exhibition in Athens, where she showcased design applications inspired by Minoan patterns. This was followed by several other exhibitions both in Greece and abroad, where she received awards and honours: Delphi (1927), Thessaloniki International Fair (1934, 1937, 1939), London (1938), Paris (1937-silver medal), Berlin (1938), Alexandria (1939), New York (1939) etc.[36]

As of the late 1920s, Kaloutsis was promoting her ‘native’ Cretan design mark in annual fairs held in Athens (where her central outlet was located) through her designs and hand-made textiles produced in her studio.[37] Moreover, she designed folk-like wooden-carved Cretan furniture combining her inspiration from popular tradition and prehistoric patterns. In addition to Minoan patterns which were the principal originality of her studio, she would gradually be inspired by patterns from other historical periods and sites of Greek antiquity, such as Mycenae, Tiryns, Thira, Delphi, Argolis, Cyprus, etc. These traditional hand-made artefacts were used as decorative elements or as high-quality furniture for private bourgeois residences, as well as public buildings (e.g. nursing homes, hospitals in Athens, the Prefecture of Chania etc.).[38]

After World War II, her studio continued to produce hand-made textiles and furniture, although it had noticeably shrunk due to the War consequences and received little or no state subsidy[39]. Her works were recognizable abroad and were identified as aspects of contemporary Greek-Cretan folk art, and were appreciated as such, i.e. as high-quality creations of a distinct national and local style. Therefore, they were sold at high prices, particularly to middle-class buyers who were continuously increasing due to the rise of tourism.[40] Meanwhile, in Greece, her creations were also highly appreciated as being “authentic Greek”, for they respected and preserved traditional techniques, and also because of their quality and patriotic spirit, since “folk art” had become a national imperative. Therefore, over time, a domestic niche of buyers developed, considering these handicrafts as traditional high-quality items, in the context of contemporary fashion trends, and using them as home decoration, while it didn’t take long for copies of her patterns to emerge[41].

In 1967, the last exhibition of Kaloutsis’ studio was held in Heraklion (Pancretan Exhibition of Cretan Folk Art Works). She passed away four years later, in 1971, when at the peak of tourism development, handicraft production was gradually industrialised (prefabricated materials, synthetic colours, mass reproduction of patterns and applications, low prices) and traditional handicraft techniques nearly got extinct.

 

“Local”, “national”, “international”: Crossed gazes

In Kaloutsis’ work, one can recognize both the features of modernism, as an open-minded innovation (though she was not in favour of increasing industrialization) and the dedication to what interwar intelligentsia regarded as “tradition”. It could be seen as an example of an idiosyncratic, national Romanticism that transcended the long 19th century and continued in the early decades of the 20th century in Greece, but could also be considered within the particularities of Greek modern art, especially in the applied arts, trying to define a national cultural identity each time in different ideological and political contexts, from Venizelos’ liberal encouragement to the later nationalist dictatorships.

The theory of Greekness, meaning the uninterrupted historical continuity of the nation[42], equalised all historical periods, from the prehistoric centuries to the modern age.[43] In this context, folk art was equally valued as a national artistic production, understating, however, the fact that it was developed by the Orthodox Greek communities within the Ottoman Empire.

The recognition of Greek folk tradition and art as a dimension of national Romanticism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries coincided with the rise and establishment of European modernism. While in Western countries primitive colonial art became a source of inspiration for modern artists, about two decades later Greek scholars “discovered” the Greek version of Primitivism in the work of folk artists such as the Zografos brothers and Theofilos. Thus, folk art became the “primitive” inspiration for modern Greek artists who sought to apply the principles of European modernism in their own Greek interpretation.

Kaloutsis followed the example of the majority of Greek artists of her time: she attempted to combine the British Arts and Crafts movement with the particularities of the cultural landscape of her country, and especially Crete, in the spirit of the narrative of Greekness that had dominated Greece at least until the 1950s. Greekness was “used” by most artists in the country as a “safety net” but at the same time it became a hindrance: artists were trying to connect “Greek” themes with the modern forms of various artistic movements. Most of the time, the result was a formalistic reception of modern movements, while Greekness was regarded as the dominant value for the assessment of any Greek artist’s work.

Coming from such a particular cultural environment, most of the Greek artists who travelled and studied abroad, mainly in Western Europe, were constantly trying to emphasize their “diversity” in order to maintain their “uniqueness”. On the other hand, being abroad, they soon discovered that they were being treated as cases of the almost exotic “Other”. Thus Greek artists were trained to consider themselves “exotic”, adopting the gaze of foreigners, as Vangelis Calotychos notes, in the context of “self-colonization”.[44]

In conclusion, Florentini Kaloutsis inevitably adopted the “foreign” gaze towards her own local heritage: she combined the “exotic” folk art with recent archaeological discoveries of the Minoan civilization, while creating a commercially attractive artistic product of a “folk” art that was completely in line with the principles of Greekness, as they were adopted by the Greek bourgeois intelligentsia, which she herself formed part of. Although this intelligentsia contributed to the re-evaluation of folk culture by attempting to preserve traditional techniques, it did so on clearly bourgeois terms, both as far as the designing of the handicrafts and the ways of their production and distribution are concerned. Archaeology, art, design, handicraft were all in the service of the nation, with an emphasis on the “diversity” of art, and thus on its “uniqueness” within European culture.

Manolis Karterakis – Dr. Annie Kontogiorgi

Art historians-Curators

 

OPENING SPEECH BY P. SIMANDIRAKIS, MAYOR OF CHANIA

Florentini Skouloudis-Kaloutsis was a dynamic woman who left her indelible mark on the recent history of Crete. A restless spirit, with a deep knowledge of the philosophical and artistic movements of her time, she set up her workshop in Chania just before the union of Crete with Greece and she constantly designed, painted, taught.

With her pioneering artistic creation and especially with the revival of Crete’s primitive weaving art, Kaloutsis succeeded in fusing tradition with modernism, highlighting the continuation of Cretan civilization from the Minoan years to the 20th century. In difficult times, she provided the women of Chania with spiritual ventilation, employment and income. A multidimensional personality, she was a close friend of Eleftherios Venizelos and especially his wife Elena, who were her neighbours in Chalepa, but also of Drosinis, Sikelianos, Penelope Delta, Kyveli, Angeliki Chatzimichalis.

The exhibition ” Art and Crafts: the “beneficial” Crete of Florentini Skouloudis-Kaloutsis” presents in a complete way her multifaceted work and revives the atmosphere of Chania and Crete at the time of her activity. It is the excellent result of the cooperation of our Municipal Gallery with the Directorate of Modern Cultural Heritage of the Ministry of Culture, with the support of the Regional Unity of Chania and important institutions of our country, such as the National Research Foundation “Eleftherios K. Venizelos”, the Lyceum Club of Greek Women of Chania, the Library Society “Chrysostomos” and the Venizeleio Conservatory of Chania-Association for the Disseminationof the Fine Arts in Crete.

Congratulations are due to all the contributors and especially to the distinguished art historians Manolis Karterakis and Annie Kontogiorgi who curated the exhibition with scientific responsibility, inspiration and inventiveness.  

Panagiotis Simandirakis

Mayor of Chania

 

WELCOME SPEECH BY G. GIANNAKAKIS, DEPUTY MAYOR OF CULTURE

It is an exceptional honour for the Municipal Art Gallery of Chania to host the exhibition ” Art and Crafts: the ‘beneficial’ Crete of Florentini Skouloudis-Kaloutsis “. Few women stood out in their time and were distinguished for their multifaceted artistic, business and social work as much as Florentini Skouloudis-Kaloutsis. Her contribution to the safeguarding of cultural heritage and tradition of Crete, as well as to the formation of the modern Greek artistic flair, was instrumental as well as the development of an innovative work in the field of cottage industry.       

It is of particular importance for the Municipal Art Gallery of Chania to cooperate with the Directorate of Modern Cultural and Intangible Cultural Heritage of the Ministry of Culture. The collaborative organisation of this exhibition allows to highlight the scope and timeless value of Florentini Kaloutsis’ work, through its extensive presentation and scientific documentation, through the inspiring work of Manolis Karterakis and Annie Kontogiorgi.  

The synergies developed around this exhibition, with the participation of the Regional Unit of Chania, the National Research Foundation “Eleftherios K. Venizelos”, the Lyceum Club of Greek Women of Chania, the Library Society “Chrysostomos” and the Venizeleio Conservatory of Chania-Association for the Disseminationof the Fine Arts in Crete attest to the importance of Florentini Skouloudis-Kaloutsis’ personality and enhance the range of the exhibition.

It is extremely important to develop in the heart of our town an impeccable presentation connecting painting with weaving, folklore with science, and tradition with modernism.

Giannis Giannakakis

Deputy Mayor of Culture of the Municipality of Chania

 

WELCOME SPEECH BY S. Fotopoulou, Head of the Directorate of Modern Cultural Heritage

The collaboration of the Directorate of Modern Cultural Heritage with the Municipal Art Gallery of Chania will hopefully bring a fresh view on the heritage of women involved in applied arts, such as Florentini Kaloutsis. We are particularly focused on the shaping of the concept of “folk art” and its new meanings throughout the course of the 20th century. Florentini Kaloutsis developed her own Greek local – “folk” art “idiom” and sustained it through her business for a long time, certainly more than Loukia Zygomalas’ similar venture in Avlona, Attica (“Attica, Greek Village Embroideries”).

The involvement of many women from the upper class during the same period (late 19th until the mid-20th century) and in the same fields (charity, care for the needy) cannot be considered as random. Their desire to participate and shape the society in which they lived in is expressed through the “beneficial” (as Kaloutsis expressed it) task of educating other women in the arts which could help them make a living in difficult times.

We hope that the visitors to this exhibition will enjoy the unique combination of local-”folk” with the national and the global, in Kaloutsis’ way, and will also experience this general trend that has been expressed in the field of applied arts with particular intensity both in Greece and elsewhere.

Stavroula (Villy) Fotopoulou

Head of the Directorate of Modern Cultural Heritage

Ministry of Culture and Sports

 

WELCOME SPEECH BY L. Mendoni, Minister of Culture and Sports

The personality of Florentini Skouloudis-Kaloutsis is linked to the local art history of Crete and is unique for many reasons. She was a woman with a strong interest in the arts. She vigorously represented female creators at a time that social conditions did not allow their voices to be heard. She was a pioneer, as she studied painting in London and absorbed the British cultural trends, influences that very few Greek women had the opportunity to accept at that time.

Florentini Skouloudis-Kaloutsis was “beneficial” to her Crete, as described in the title of the exhibition. Not only because her direction was the promotion of traditional weaving in Greece and tried to emphasize the artistic heritage of Crete. She is unique because she did so in a creative way, drawing on paper and translating into weaving the Minoan civilization designs, as they were revealed in the excavation of Knossos.

As she had said, “When I returned from London, where I studied painting, I was saddened to discover that the Cretan loom had been completely dead and that the women who used to weave laces had used most of their looms as firewood …”. With persistent work and with the craft firm Double Axe, which she created, she offered jobs to many women. She has participated in local, national and international art fairs. She has won awards.

The exhibition “Art and Crafts: The ‘Beneficial’ Crete of Florentini Skouloudis-Kaloutsis” is a result of the collaboration of the Department of Modern Cultural Heritage with the Municipality of Chania and the Municipal Art Gallery of Chania. Congratulations to those who worked to highlight Kaloutsi’s work through the extensive archive material presented. The ongoing aim of the Ministry of Culture and Sports is to encourage initiatives to re-evaluate the physical and intangible aspects of modern culture. With a modern museological approach, we want to broaden the public’s perception of the country’s cultural reserve and their awareness on the issues of the newer cultural heritage.

Lina Mendoni

Minister of Culture and Sports

 

 

* We would like to thank Alina Chatzispyrou, Archaeologist-Museologist, Directorate of Modern Cultural Heritage, for the Greek translation of an earlier English version of this text.

[1] Florentini Skouloudis’ father, Giorgos Skouloudis, a lawyer, was Minister of Justice for the Government of the Cretan State (1910), as well as a Governor of the Bank of Crete, while her mother, Kleopatra (née Petichakis), a teacher, was the first president of “The Lykeion ton Hellenidon” (Lyceum Club of Greek Women) in Chania (1915). We would like to thank Giorgos Kaloutsis and the Lyceum Club of Greek Women in Chania for pointing out the information.

[2] “A Student from Crete”, Dulwich High School Magazine 1929-1930, p. 31. See Florentini Kaloutsis’ personal archive, Giorgos Kaloutsis’ private collection.

[3] In a 1910s photo, Florentini Skouloudis is pictured painting in her studio standing in front of her canvas, as professional male painters used to be depicted in photographs and early film shoots already since the middle of the previous century. See Florentini Kaloutsis’ personal archive, Giorgos Kaloutsis’ private collection.

Up to the second half of the 19th century, women were not even allowed to attend Art Schools, particularly in the same classes with their male counterparts, mainly because of the nude painting studies required by the schools.

However, they were free to engage with fine arts as amateurs at home. From the second half of the 19th century admission for women in various schools started to be allowed, while in 1894 women’s admission in Athens School of Fine Arts was permitted for the first time, with certain restrictions. Shortly afterwards, the first Greek women artists began to become well-known, participate in group exhibitions, sell works and undertake commissions. See Haris Scholinaki-Helioti, Greek Painters 1800-1922, PhD thesis, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, 1990, pp. 52-57. On the subject of female artistic activity at that time in Europe, see Whitney Chadwick, “The Position of Woman in the History of Art”, in Gaps in the History of Art. Women Artists, ed. Efthimia Georgiadou-Kountoura et al., Govosti editions, Athens, 1993, pp. 73-112∙ and Chariklia-Glafki Gotsi, “Towards the formation of a professional identity: women artists in Greece at the beginning of the twentieth century”, Women’s History Review , Vol. 14, issue 2, 2005, p. 285-300.

[4] Haris Scholinaki-Helioti mentions that Florentini Skouloudis had been participating in exhibitions of the Association of Greek Artists since 1915, and that she also participated in the Second Permanent Art Exhibition of the State (1917). See Haris Scholinaki-Helioti, p. 236.

[5] In 1913 she was commissioned by the General Administration of Crete to design the commemorative stamp for the Union of Crete with Greece.

[6] With her brother, Manolis Skouloudis, a musician, she was one of the founding members of the Association for the Promotion of Fine Arts in Crete. She was the first one to undertake the Painting Department. See Manolis Skouloudis, “The Musical History of Chania 1898-1923 and the idea of founding the Cretan Conservatory”, Kiryx, October-November 1923 (series of articles).

[7] In 1918 Florentini Skouloudis married the maritime agent-insurer, George Kaloutsis. From then on she will continue her painting activity until 1926, signing with the initial Greek letters of her full name Φ.Σ.Κ. (Florentini Skouloudis-Kaloutsis).

[8] An art movement with many different aspects. It was born in Britain in the second half of the 19th century, but spread also to the USA, up to the early 20th century.

In Britain in the 1860s, art critic John Ruskin argued in his book Unto this Last that “…the question for the nation is not how much labour it employs, but how much life it produces. For as consumption is the end and aim of production, so life is the end and aim of consumption.” John Ruskin, Unto this Last, 1860, p. 156 in Mary Greensted, The Arts and Crafts Movement: Exchanges between Greece and Britain (1876-1930), MPhil thesis, University of Birmingham, 2010, https://etheses.bham.ac.uk/id/eprint/1110/ (accessed on 16/10/2019), p. 14.

The main representative of the movement and one of its founders was William Morris (1834-1896), a painter, designer, writer and socialist activist, while other exponents of the movement include Philip Webb (1831-1915), Ernest Gimson (1864-1919), Walter Crane (1845-1915), Charles Robert Ashbee (1863-1942), C. F. A. Voysey (1857-1941). The key purpose of the movement was to promote applied arts as equivalent to fine arts. The artists of the movement sought inspiration in the folk art of the British countryside, but also in artefacts of earlier periods, mainly of the Gothic period, in order to create objects of everyday use that would be of high manufacture quality and sophisticated aesthetics. The movement emerged as a reaction to the galloping industrialization in Britain and to the production of cheap daily-use objects of very poor quality and aesthetics and contained political references of socialist influence. Through their perseverance for a return to handicraft, the artists proclaimed the “education” of the rising bourgeoisie in good taste and the liberation of the working class from the rapidly growing oppressive industrial capitalism. However, in practice the handicraft items ended up being prohibitively expensive -due to being hand-crafted- for those who did not have an income high enough to obtain them. See, for example, Elizabeth Cumming and Wendy Kaplan, The Arts and Crafts Movement, London, Thames and Hudson, 1991 and Mary Greensted, 2010.

[9] Zoe Mitsotaki, Florentini Kaloutsi and the Art of Crete. From the Minoan Period to the Present, Benaki Museum, Athens, 1999, pp. 22-23.

[10] See the Athenian press of the time, especially the newspapers Politeia and Proia, April 1926.

[11] As designer and manager of Diplous Pelekys, she became known and was established under the name of Kaloutsis (Calucci or Caloutzis).

[12] Maria Korassidou, “Les Miserables” of Athens and their Healers. Poverty and Charity in the 19th Century Greek Capital, Center for Neo-Hellenic Studies, National Hellenic Research Foundation, Athens, 1995, pp. 173, 175.

[13] Afroditi Kouki, The organization of the production of “folk” works of art during the interwar period: from the “Lyceum Club of Greek Women” to the “Association of Workshops of Greece”, MA thesis in Art History, University of Crete, Department of History and Archaeology, Rethymnon, 2008, pp. 20-21.

[14] Mary Greensted, pp. 125, 129.

[15] Mary Greensted, pp. 129 and Afroditi Kouki, p. 21.

[16] Katerina Dalakoura and Sidiroula Ziogou-Karastergiou, Women’s education – Women in education. Social, ideological, educational transformations and women’s interventions (18th-20th centuries), www.kallipos.gr, Athens, 2015, p. 286.

[17] Alexandra Bounia, “Anna Apostolaki and the establishment of Folklore Museums in the Greek Region”, A gift in return to Anna Apostolaki, Life, Work and Contribution, Minutes of Scientific Seminar, Lyceum Club of Greek Women, Athens, 2017, (151-174), p. 156.

[18] Katerina Dalakoura and Sidiroula Ziogou-Karastergiou, p. 253.

[19] Quite indicatively for Kallirhoe Parren and the issue of feminist claims in Greece, see Efi Avdela and Angelika Psarra, «Engendering ‘‘Greekness’’: Women’s Emancipation and Irredentist Politics in Nineteenth-Century Greece», Mediterranean Historical Review, vol. 20, iss. 1, June 2005, pp. 67-79.

Angelika Psarra, “The gift of the New World: Greek Feminists Between the West and the East (1880-1930)” in Ways to Modernity in Greece and Turkey: Encounters with Europe 1850-1950, ed. Caglar Keyder and Anna Frangoudaki, Alexandria, Athens, 2008, pp. 1-28 and

Afroditi Kouki, pp. 27-34.

[20] As it was mostly expressed through the Lyceum Club of Greek Women, where feminist aspirations gradually gave ground to national purposes. See Anna Michopoulou, “From a ‘women’s’ club with national goals to a ‘national’ women’s club: the national policy of the Lyceum Club of Greek Women from Kallirhoe Parren to Anna Triantafyllidou (1911-1940)” in The Lyceum Club of Greek Women. 100 years, Piraeus Group Cultural Foundation, Athens, 2010, pp. 145-189.

Kaloutsis (then known as Skouloudis) came into direct contact with Kallirhoe Parren and saw to the founding of the Lyceum Club of Greek Women in Chania, one of the first branches of the Lyceum Club of Greek Women in Greece (1915). She herself was actively involved in the cultural activities of the Lyceum. See “Days of Chania”, New Research, 25/10/1915, and “The Lyceum’s soiree”, New Research, 21/2/1916.

[21] Zoe Mitsotaki, p. 31.

[22] Elena Skilitsi-Venizelos was a close friend of Florentini Kaloutsis, and held correspondence with her from 1927, the year they met in Chania, until 1958, a few months before her death. The correspondence shows Elena Venizelos’ appreciation and support for the promotion of Kaloutsis’ work. See Florentini Kaloutsis’ personal archive, George Kaloutsis’ private collection, and the Kaloutsis Archive, National Research Foundation “Eleftherios Venizelos”. For the existing published part of it, see Zoe Mitsotaki, Mrs. Elena Venizelou. Course of a Life, ed. Eleni Kechagioglou, National Research Foundation “Eleftherios K. Venizelos”, Chania, 2017.

[23] Elena Venizelos, In the Shadow of Venizelos, Oceanida, Athens, 2002, p. 78 (first edition in French: 1955).

[24] Evgenios Matthiopoulos, “The Visual Arts in the Period 1922-1940” in History of 20th Century Greece, ed. Christos Hadjiiosif, vol. B2, Bibliorama, Athens, 2003 (400-459), p. 414.

[25] Afroditi Kouki, p. 63.

[26] Afroditi Kouki, p. 110.

[27] Indicatively, Afroditi Kouki, p. 42.

[28] As Evgenios Matthiopoulos states, “… Of great importance in the effort of economic recovery and centralised organisation of “folk”- traditional art was the granting in 1931 by the Venizelos government of a significant – interest-free for a period of 15 years – loan of 5.000.000 GRD (the remaining balance of the Refugee Settlement Commission (EAP)), to “Greek ArtsS.A., with the purpose of supporting, on the hand, financially workshops and manufacturers of “folk” – traditional artefacts, and promoting, on the other hand, the study of this art and the design of new consumer goods suitable for modern urban uses but also in line with the aesthetic standards of tradition …” Evgenios Matthiopoulos, 2003, p. 414 and Evgenios Matthiopoulos, Greece’s Participation in the Venice Biennale, 1934-1940 , vol. A, PhD thesis, University of Crete, Rethymnon, 1996, p. 154.

[29] Mary Greensted, p. 125.

[30] “[…] The loop-weave technique is typical of Crete. This means that designs and any representations are woven together, form a single entity with the textile and may not be removed from it. In other cases, the decoration is placed on the textile; therefore, it may be easily removed for it is a foreign body. Transferring designs and representations is no easy task, and for them to be woven, special preparation is needed when the worker is not familiar with them through tradition […]”. See Rodoula Stathaki-Koumari, Drawings from Florentini Kaloutsis’ archive, EOMMEH, Athens, 1982, p. 4.

[31] According to oral testimonies of her sons, Giorgos and Valerios Kaloutsis, Kaloutsis received ongoing updates on the excavations, encouraged perhaps by her close long-time friend since University days, Violet Kingsford, a British artist who had also decided to settle in Chania.

[32] On “building” the Minoan identity, see James Whitley, “The Minoans – A Welsh Invention? A View from Eastern Crete”, pp. 69-85, and Yannis Hamilakis, “The Colonial, the National and the Local: Legacies of the ‘Minoan’ Past”, pp. 197-221, in Archaeology and European Modernity. Producing and Consuming the “Minoans, ed. Yannis Hamilakis and Nicoletta Momigliano, trans. Nikos Koutras, 21st Parallel Publications, Athens, 2010.

[33] Oral testimony of Maria Naxakis about the meeting between J.D.S. Pendlebury (1904-1941, a distinguished archaeologist, member of the British School at Athens, who was executed by the Germans during the Battle of Crete in 1941) and Kaloutsis, at her maiden home.

[34] Zoe Mitsotaki mentions that Kaloutsis’ library included the book of H.R. Hall, Aegean Archaeology, published in 1914, which was brought to her from London by her friend Violet Kingsford. This book which according to her family bore her handwritten notes and played an important role in her choices was, unfortunately, not recovered. See Zoe Mitsotaki, p. 20.

[35] Her friend Violet Kingsford would usually bring it, see Mary Greensted, p. 138.

[36] Zoe Mitsotaki, p. 34.

[37] Zoe Mitsotaki, p. 27.

[38] Zoe Mitsotaki, p. 21.

[39] During the war, different selling points went out of business, whereas her weaving workshop and her residence in Chania were bombed and looted. Over time, only the selling points in Athens, Chania, and Herakleion, became operational again, whereas the weaving workshop operated again, at a much lesser scale and only for a short period in Athens. In the 1950s, it was accommodated in her residence in Chalepa, Chania, where it also remained after her death. The business shut down in 1985.

[40] In 1938, Lady Crosfield hosted an exhibition of “Diplous Pelekys” artefacts in Olympia Hall, London, which was visited by the Queen of England who bought dresses for the princesses. See Rodoula Stathaki-Koumari, p.7.

In 1970, Jackie Kennedy-Onassis visited the central outlet of “Diplous Pelekys” in Athens and bought a significant number of artefacts with a view to decorating the villa of Aristotle Onassis on the island of Skorpios. See TA NEA, 30/5/1970.

[41] It is worth noting that Kaloutsis’ designs, mostly her compositions inspired by Minoan patterns appear in a range of weaving applications other than those of the artisan business “Diplous Pelekys. As a result, their creator is ignored and they are recognised by the wider public as “folk art”. This is due to the fact that Kaloutsis failed to obtain intellectual property protection rights over her designs and her former weavers copied her; in fact, some of them later established their own businesses. We would like to thank Rita Markantonakis, a former employee in “Diplous Pelekys”, for noting this.

[42] See the narrative by Constantine Paparrigopoulos: Constantine Paparrigopoulos, History of the Greek Nation, 1st edition (short) 1853, 3 volumes (15 books, extended) from 1860 to 1876, followed by several revised editions.

[43] On the notion of building a national identity, see Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities. Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism, Nefeli, Athens, 1997.

[44] Vangelis Calotychos, Modern Greece: A Cultural Poetics, Oxford, Berg, 2003, p. 52.

Exhibition information

Duration: December 2, 2019 to April 25, 2020
Curator: Manolis Karterakis & Ani Kontogiorgi
Opening: Monday 2 December 2019 at 20:00



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