Folk Art - The house of Skyros and its Decoration
The aesthetics of the houses of Skyros is based on two fundamental elements.
As far as the fixed constructions are concerned, building works and woodworks: (couch, shelves, pitcher-post, bench, built family altar, etc.) and the utensils that are put in visible spots in order to be used as well as for aesthetics' purposes.
These items are a significant - probably the biggest - capital of the Popular Culture of Skyros.
Their importance is due to their artistic value, their rarity, their great market value, their historical origin, the aesthetic perception and tradition of the people of Skyros. They had an important part in the society of Skyros, mainly among the women of the island, who were the vehicles of the traditional artistic culture in the island par excellence, because of the history of the Popular Art of Skyros and the general history of the island.
The woodcraft, as it is presented through the furniture manufacture and the woodcarving, is the most important and the most known branch of craftsmanship in Skyros.
The variety in forms, the wealth and the superior aesthetics of the decorative patterns, the unique technique of carving let the woodcarving of Skyros claim an artistic independence in the Greek territory.
The reputation of the furniture made in the island of Skyros is known all over Greece and it has been established so much so that every woodcut furniture is considered, these days, by the public, as a "furniture made in Skyros.
In 1947, Angeliki Hatzimichalis, a top researcher of the Modern Greek Culture, wrote on the craftsmanship of Skyros; she was the first person who studied it and promoted it throughout Greece, through her classic work "Greek popular art - Skyros" (Athens, 1925): "It's more than 20 years that the artistic creations of Skyros, above all the furniture, became so much known to the general public, so that all the works of art of popular woodcraft are given the name of "furniture made in Skyros". Greeks and foreigners do that all the time...."
The needlework, as well as the woodcut goods, are the main branches of the craftsmanship of Skyros, which since even the period between the Two World Wars, thanks to the scientific researches and the various publications of Greek and foreign writers and journalists, were known not only all over Greece but all over the world as well.
In the old days, the traditional workshops of ceramics of Skyros were engaged in creating and manufacturing handy objects (such as pitchers, cooking-pots, etc.). These objects were decorated with white-linear designs having neither vitrification nor colour designs. As for the decoration of the traditional house of Skyros, plates, large flat dishes, jars, mugs, tankards, soup tureens, etc, were imported from Asia Minor as well as from Italy, Spain, Holland and later on from England. This import, which was known since the Venetian domination as well as the Turkish domination, continued up to the first decades of the 20th century.
The people of Skyros call these ceramics as "the old ones". They are not imported these days. There are not any handy ceramics in the modern ceramics of Skyros, which is a blooming small industry; only on rare occasions, there are some handy ceramics. These days, there are reproductions of the old ceramics. The production is quite big and it is made by 3-4 local workshops. The potters of Skyros create forms of pottery and designs of their own inspiration or they design new forms of ceramics being influenced by the old ceramics. The potters of Skyros work in a creative spirit having a fine sensitivity.