The Holy Metropolis of Ioannina, the Municipality of Ioannina and the Piraeus Bank Group Cultural Foundation (PIOP) are co-organising “When art becomes sacred”, a temporary exhibition featuring rare ecclesiastical silversmithing works that is being held at the Silversmithing Museum in Ioannina.
Inaugurated on Wednesday, 21st December 2016, the exhibition is a continuation of the particularly successful exhibition on “The art of silver of Ioannina”, hosted at Moscow’s “New Jerusalem” Museum in the context of the Greece-Russia 2016 cross-cultural year. Among the works that “journeyed” to Moscow, the ones on display at the Silversmithing Museum are outstanding examples of Epirote ecclesiastical art, whose exquisite details inspired the museological approach of the new exhibition, curated by PIOP.
Dating from the 17th century through to the present, the works of “When art becomes sacred” are displayed on two levels, so as to favour multiple readings by the public, specialist or not. The holy relics’ horizontal layout in modules that begin with “In the beginning was the Word” and end with the “Gladsome Light” refers connotatively to the progression from the Nativity to the Resurrection and eternal life. In parallel, within each module and in a direct dialogue with the Museum’s permanent exhibition, special reference is made to the evolution of Epirote silversmithing, to famous craftsmen and important donors. The exhibition concludes with a reference to modern and contemporary silverware production.
It should be noted that unique exhibits, such as the silver gilt Gospel by Christódoulos Pantazís, the Chalice bearing the signature of Anastássios Sougdourís or the Cross signed by Athanássios Tzimoúris, are being presented to the Greek public for the very first time.
The objects on display come from the collections of the Holy Metropolis of Ioannina and the Municipal Library, as well as from the private collections of the Varzókas Brothers, Leontáris Zíndros, Konstantínos Ioannídis, Chrissóstomos Karyofýllis, Aléxandros Tzomákas, Phaídon Ilías and Evánghelos Chrístou.
The following was said about the exhibition by:
Our Holy Church, wishing to inform the complete man of the spiritual messages of Christ’s teaching and desiring to activate every good element in man towards glorifying God, to bring to the fore his every talent in a way that improves himself and his environment, serving the expression of spiritual beauty, preserving and enriching the propriety of creation, contributed to the manifestation and development of the sacred arts. Among these arts, in Ioannina it was silverwork that stood out and indeed specifically constituted ‑and continues to be‑ an artistic glorifying expression in the Church’s functioning and life. These are works of unrivalled sacred art that decorate churches and liturgical vessels and constitute an outstanding artistic record of popular piety and of high spiritual ascents, perfectly executed in terms of technique, and which made and make Ioannina renowned and proud worldwide!
From the very beginning, the Municipality of Ioannina, clearly and openly expressed the opinion that PIOP’s new Silversmithing Museum upgrades the region’s cultural product and generates a particular added value to the quality tourist destination called “Ioannina”. By contributing to the organisation of this exhibition, the Municipality shows in practice its support to the Museum’s functioning and simultaneously stresses, yet again, its strategic policy choice to develop this land through creative collaborations.
Through their infrastructure and the accumulated knowledge they concentrate, the Museums of PIOP’s Network can contribute decisively to supporting local societies and their economies, and also offer incentives for strengthening cultural tourism. This exhibition, which showcases ecclesiastical objects of singular art and craftsmanship, constitutes a fully fledged example of a collaboration between local authorities and private initiative. I sincerely hope that it will serve as a guide to similar activities throughout Greece.