In 1957 my grandfather came to England and brought with him – preserved in his memories, in his voice, and even in his clothes – a distillation of the spirit of his home. The long journey he made by boat is immortalised in a photograph that he once gave me. In it, he and a group of Cypriots, whose names he could not recall and whose faces are too small to distinguish, posed for an unknown photographer aboard the deck of a passenger boat.
Even when Cyprus lies two thousand miles away it is present in the routine of my every day life, living and remembered, yet simultaneously remaining a distant and indefinable idea that is unfettered by time. Distance allows it to take on a nostalgic, almost mythological purity. The collectively distilled knowledge of a place that has, for generations, passed through other eyes and other ears, brings me closer to the idea than to the reality.
So I have known Cyprus not only through my own memory and experience but also through the memory and experience of others. For me however, born ‘Here’ but from ‘There’, there is a distance that separates me from the place of my birth and the place of my ethnic origin. This distance renders me a stranger in both homes. In the country of my birth I hold onto the idea of Cyprus like an existential compass by which I can safely navigate my experiences, but when I am in Cyprus that idea is frequently conflicted.
Sometimes first hand experience and the flicker of detached objectivity that lingers in the photograph show me a Cyprus I do not know. These photographs are not about Cyprus in a general sense; they are not an objective survey. They are more personal than that. They are photographs of what I have found Cyprus to be through eyes both sceptical and romantic. Getting to know Cyprus is part of getting to know myself, and these images are a record of a long and continuing discourse.