TO paint, to travel, and to combine the two is to celebrate life!, says a Greek art teacher who follows just that.
Inspired by the Omani cap, Kumma, he has gone ahead and created lovely figures on wood from recycled products. Calling himself a self-taught carpenter, his novelty lies in making best use of waste wood and recycled stuff.
Konstantinos Grivakis, from the beautiful island of Crete south of Greece, has fallen in love with the Sultanate after his visits twice, and looks forward to his third visit later this month.
“How polite and helpful the Omanis were during my visit. They are the best hosts I have ever met in any country I had been to,” says Kostis, more popular by his nick name, about Oman and its citizens.
Once back in Greece, it was a one-way road on what best to do having been inspired much.
He first cuts some wooden fishes, paints and decorates them with ornaments inspired by the wonderful kummas. These are then made into few clay lanterns and painted to look like real kummas. Small pieces of wood are cut and painted with the faces of Omani men and women. Next step is to make some modern Omani figures not only realistic and something that looked more modern. He also uses some of the leftover driftwood which he had used to make small Muscat fish market. He is a genius in creating unique collages mixing western art portraits and actors with Omani clothes. The final works he did speak about him better.
Kostis visited the Sultanate twice in July and August this year which was quite productive. He went back and created a page on Facebook and advertised his works to express his love for Oman.
How can you not be inspired by Oman and its people? he asks. Kostis admits that Omanis are the most kind, helpful and beautiful people he has ever met in his life. “I’ve travelled all over the world from the US to Scandinavia and from Tunisia to China and have never been to a place like Oman. I have never ever remembered myself saying: This is the place I want to grow older,” he confesses.
A unique part of his work lies in using recycled material because he truly believes that we can always give a second chance not only to people but also to simple things. “One man’s rubbish is always my treasure. That’s how I turned bottles of shampoo and roll-ons to Omani figures,” he says gleefully. He loves to work with wood and plenty of waste wood that he saves and turns into little art pieces.
He goes around collecting waste wood from construction sites or from the streets. Old doors and windows, what is left over from wooden ceilings or old furniture are his favourites. He cuts and gives the shape he needs and paints them.
“It is all about giving a second life to what others think as rubbish. Any kind of wood will do and only needs to be clean and make a good surface for me to paint.”
He also found some chairs and wooden panels in Al Ansab during his visit which he made to productive use.
Armed with a book on ‘101 things to see and do in Oman’ he has made elaborate plans where he will visit places for new inspiration. He has had memorable moments staying at Misfah Old House in Al Hamra, hiking and swimming in Jebel Shams, Wadi Bani Kharus, visits to Nakhl Fort, turtle beaches at Sur, Bimmah Sinkhole, Al Jebel Al Akhdhar mountain ranges, Wadi Shab and Wakan village.
After his visit, his posts on social media became so popular that people enquired about the courses he plans. He received many messages from art galleries who offered him the chance of an exhibition enquiring how to buy his creations.
In Crete, Kon works as an art teacher for the local elementary school at Archanes for the last 11 years and owns a workshop where he teaches about 50 students for children between 6 to 16 years old and also few adult classes. The subjects relate to arts and crafts, painting with acrylics or oil or coloured pencils and charcoal. There are special courses on how to turn what others think as rubbish to a piece of art.
His works on collage are not for sale but instead are made to express his love for Oman. So far he has received messages from art galleries offering him the chance of an exhibition enquiring how to buy my creations,” he mentions optimistically.