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James Prineas

November 2004

Natural and Cultural Kytherian History

We are proud to have two Kytherian institutions represented on our site: the Kythera Cultural Association (KCA) and The Kythera Museum of Natural History (KMNH). Both are headed by enthusiastic Kythera-lovers who also happen to be great writers: Robin Tzannes of the KMNH should already be known to you as the author of our regular “Letter from Kythera” which appears below. And John Stathatos of the KCA has sent us a report about the 3rd Kythera Photographic Encounters held there recently - it also follows my introduction.

The Big Chance: put your 2006 holiday plans on hold.
I was on the island with my family in early October. The sun was still shining, the ocean still warm, the beaches empty and the fruit in abundance. And virtually no tourists except for an enthusiastic English musicians which our roving local teenage correspondant Rowan Parkes wrote about in a website article which you can read further down the mail. The Kytherians are relaxed now the summer and the crowds have taken leave. The perfect time, I have always felt, to visit the island. For all of us to visit the island. Together. I did some email-brainstorming with two of the stormiest brains on the island, the previously mentioned Robin Tzannes and John Stathatos, and we came up with a pretty interesting idea. Still in its infancy, here is the basic concept:


Imagine dozens of us all meeting on the island in early October 2005. For four days we: meet other Kytherians from all over the world; exchange family trees and stories; tour the well and little known wonders of the island; are lectured by local experts; attend a Find your Family workshop where bilingual helpers with Kythera phone books
try and contact lost relations and arrange reunions; the Kythera Cultural Association would organise a private viewing of historic photographic collections; local artists would exhibit their work accompanied by local wine and produce; we could take a boat tour around the entire island; learn some local dances and try them all out in the evenings at the best restaurants on the island. For those of you who need accomodation, hotels or rooms would all be arranged.

It will be a unique opportunity for us all to come together, especially for those, in Robin Tzannes' words, "who have lost contact, don't know where their relatives are, don't speak Greek, and might be too shy to come on their own." It will be one huge family visit, which is sure to go down in Kytherian history.

As previously mentioned, the planning is all in it's infancy. So there's still loads of time to make suggestions (such as taking in guests at your family villa on the island or offering the contents of your full Kytherian wine barrels for tasting). If you might be interested in joining us please let us know so we can get a rough idea of the numbers.

Survey Progress
The responses to the Kythera family survey we conducted in September are still coming in and we should have the raw data on view by the next newsletter. Thanks again to all who have helped.

Kytherian entertainers.
George Poulos, our Chief Australian Content Manager, has tracked down a fantastic body of work about Greek Cinema ownership in Australia. It seems the hellenic-Australians, predominently Kytherians, were pivotal in setting up the picture-theatres in Australian country towns. Kevin Cork, the author of the thesis, died tragically before its completion, and it was never published. Until now. George Poulos recognised its importance and I am proud to announce that, with the kind permission of Kevin Cork's family, George has done a great job of publishing it on our site.
You can read the thesis here: http://www.kythera-family.net/index.php?nav=5-18&cid=18&did=5201&pageflip=1

All the best from a mild central European Autumn,

James Prineas, Website Team Leader Europe

PS. Don't forget to call your relatives on the island!

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Kythera Cultural Association Report

The 3rd Kythera Photographic Encounters took place once again during the first weekend of October, attended by a large and enthusiastic audience of photographers, art historians, curators and students; they included the usual two-day Conference on the History of Greek Photography, five exhibitions, and the new and very successful Young Photographers’ Encounters. Of particular interest to Kytherians was the exhibition "War, Occupation & Liberation on Kythera: Photographic Testimonies" at the Patrikios Agricultural School in Karavas. Based largely but not exclusively on the Manolis Fatseas archive in the possession of the Kythera Photographic Archive, it included images of social events during the occupation, formal portraits, rare depictions of the occupying German and Italian forces, and photographs of the arrival of Greek and British troops during the liberation. The exhibition will move to the Potamos Cultural centre later in October. All the images of this fascinating exhibition will be made available on kythera-family.net, with commentary, and can be seen in the "Photographic Archive" sub-section of the Kythera Cultural Association section.  

In connection with this exhibition, and with a view to an eventual publication, the Kythera Cultural Association is eager to hear from anybody who has photographs, documents or memories of the occupation on Kythera; we shall be recording the testimony of a number of Kytherians during the course of this winter, and some of this material will of course also be made available on kythera-family.net. If you can help, please e-mail us on [email protected].

The success of the event itself is unfortunately not mirrored by the financial health of the Kythera Cultural Association, which is decidedly poor. We received no support at all from the Ministry of Culture this year, despite the fact the Photographic Encounters are officially part of the Ministry’s national photographic network – largely because all the money was spent on "prestige events" associated with the Olympic Games. At the same time, the Kythera Municipality reduced its funding to us by 50%, even though our activities increased by about the same amount. We have kept going so far largely thanks to our savings and to the generosity of a few Kytherians who have helped out, mostly with goods and services, but things are looking problematic for next year. In the meantime, our sincere thanks go out to Costa Spiliadis for funding the Milos Book Prize, to Spitia Vassili in Kapsali and the Charos family for once again making this splendid hotel complex available to our guests, to Tassos Venardos for the Encounters poster, to Cerigo Car and Panagiotis Rent-a-Car for lending us vehicles, to Afroditi Apartments for rooms, and to R.C. Tech and Takis Stamatoulas for financial assistance. And as always, of course, to all the volunteers for their labour.

John Stathatos, Kythera Cultural Association
(Dozens of photographs from the Kythera Cultural Association’s collection can be found at Kythera-family.net.)

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Letter from Kythera by Robin Tzannes
The signs of Autumn on Kythera are unmistakable: brown fields grow green with grass, hillsides turn pink with heather; farmers' talk turns from wine to olives; frogs, snails and slugs appear in the garden; and our homes are once again invaded by scores of vromopapadias.

The vromopapadia is one of a large group of creepy crawlers that favour humid conditions. These fall into two categories: centipedes (one pair of legs per body segment) and millipedes (two pairs per segment). There are a few pictures of them on Kythera-family.net in the Nature Category. This link will take you straight there:

Of the two groups, centipedes are the scarier bunch. These include the Soil Centipede, a snakelike, red-yellow, eyeless creature that wiggles violently; the bizarre Scutigera, whose compact body is fringed with fine, long limbs that resemble eyelashes; and the truly terrifying Scolopendra, who slithers around with a sinister, rippling movement on forty legs that all end in needle-sharp spikes. The Scolopendra has a painful, poisonous bite, and can give a very nasty pinch with its last pair of legs.

But of all these creeping invaders, it is the vromopapadia that feels most a part of the Kytherian winter household. This shy millipede has a dark, glossy body that stretches and curls along the wall to form amusing shapes, transforming itself from a straight line into a question mark, a half-circle, or an ess-curve, then curling up into a little spiral when disturbed.

But the last thing you want to do is disturb this harmless creature, whose name translates as "stinking priest's wife". That's because, when prodded, the vromopapadia emits an oily, sickly, lingering stench. Even in death, when its body segments turn into a dry little heap of tiny white hoops, the vromopapadia can put out a repulsive smell. If you find it necessary to remove a vromopapadia, dead or alive, do so gingerly and respectfully. A piece of adhesive tape comes in handy.

Looking forward, with the rest of Kythera, to olive picking,
I remain sincerely yours,
Robin Tzannes, Kepriotianika, Kythera.
(More than 200 exhibits from the Kythera Museum of Natural History can be found at Kythera-family.net.)

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by Kevin Cork

An except. See the full thesis in the Archive Research section of Kythera-Family.net or click here:

Kevin Corks importance to Kythera and to the Kytherian heritage in summed up in the final three paragraphs of Chapt 10, which has been published at the kythera-family web-site [See Photography Diaspora, sub-section Cafes, Shops and Cinemas.]

"How then are the 66 Greek-Australian exhibitors to be remembered? As previously stated, most of them are deceased and although obituaries speak of being 'highly-regarded', 'well-respected', these are nothing more than pieces of paper filed in libraries. Archival material, such as Alien Registration Forms, tells little more than dates and places, and certainly not about the men and their achievements. There is the strong possibility that the ten former exhibitors who are still alive today will not be by the year 2017 - a mere twenty years away. As the population grows older, their contributions made to our social and architectural history will be forgotten. Country town populations constantly change so we cannot rely on people's memories.

These Greeks who dared to migrate, open businesses, become successful (remember "success" is a relative term), who entertained millions - how will we remember them? Their families will. For one or two generations their memories will be clear. After that, it is impossible to predict. During the course of researching, it was found that the children of these exhibitors have left the refreshment room trade far behind, if they were ever involved in it at all. Many of the children of the former exhibitors are professional people - doctors, optometrists, solicitors, accountants, company directors, teachers, business men and women. While they take an interest in their parents' origins and careers, their generation will fail to pass on the material to the next simply because we are not a nation of story-tellers. We do not pass on our histories by word-of-mouth. It has not been uncommon for a child of a former exhibitor to say, with regret, that they did not ask sufficient questions while their parents were alive. The writer, himself, has similar regrets. We are part of the age of the written word with visual accompaniment. Few of the children interviewed for this project have bothered to write down about their fathers. In some cases, it was only through the intercession of the writer that this was done. In a similar way, it has been noticed that, frequently, when photographs have been loaned to the writer for this project, nothing has been written on the backs of them, thus rendering them useless for the next generation.

If we are to remember these Hellenes for their contributions to Australia's social, architectural and technological advancement, then it is imperative that there be Greek landmarks which are acknowledged at local and state level - ones that point to the achievements of the Greek-Australian cinema exhibitors who are the subject of this thesis. We cannot allow their histories to be forgotten, not when they provided services that positively affected millions of people, firstly, through their refreshment rooms and, secondly, through their picture theatres."

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Golden Oldies bring new harmonies to Kythera

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