Nymphaea Blue adorns La Haute Borne

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Tatiana Ferahian is no stranger to employing alternative elements, metaphors, and information formed with humour, irony, outrage and compassion in order to speak out for social change in her work.
Her artistic ventures throughout the years have also prompted her to incorporate mythological stories in her land art installations, an occurrence she dismisses as a more fascinating approach to her concepts.

Following a call from the “In the lakes” international biennale which takes place at Villeneuve D’Ascq in Lille, France, Ferahian recently installed her latest work in the “La Haute Borne” park, an aquatic installation entitled “Nymphaea Blue”.

“‘Nymphaea’ being the etymological name for water lilies – evokes the “Nymphs” or water deities of ancient Greek mythology, who had the power to “metamorphosise”, said Ferahian upon her return to Cyprus where she lives.

“The word metamorphosis in fact comes from the Greek word “metamorfoun”, which means to transform. And in the plant metamorphosis myths, young Nymphs often transformed into flowers,” she adds.

The biennale at hand aims to override original artistic floating: Water must be the holder of each participating work. In the event, the lakes on location are recomposed in their own way, creating a landscape of our time, a built environment that brings together ten to 12 contemporary works on a water park. As a result, the one week residencies of visual artists from varying countries are what is left for the public eye.

Ferahian’s intervention on location entails of a piece of art made up of diving fins. “Since organisms develop fins in order to aid them in the process of adapting and adjusting to their ecological niches,” explains Ferahian in explaining her use of material.

“Even though the construction is a semi-circle, it gives the impression of a full one, as its own reflection in the water manages to complete it. This again draws paradigms from Greek mythology where Narcissus fell in love with his own reflection and turned into a flower. Similarly in ancient Egyptian myths, the blue water lily transformed into the Sun God who emitted light to eliminate the universal darkness.

“He became known as the Creator; the source of all life. The blue water lily thus came to symbolize the cycle of birth, life, death and rebirth,” she adds.

As such, the installation plays with aspects of life, creativity, reflection, recycling, transformation and adaptation.
With executions to the rule, Ferahian’s work – whether it is about nature or inspired by it – serves a purpose beyond being an object of beauty: it addresses pressing social, political or environmental issues and topics about conservation, sustainability and preservation.
“It (her work) has the ability to interact with and educate the viewer about these issues, spreading awareness about such important topics in order to help renew, or spark anew, our connection with nature,” explains Ferahian.

Referring to the mythological aspects that have recently been incorporated in her work, Ferahian says that “there’s mystery, danger, treachery, loyalty, romance and magic in mythology, which tend to grab people’s attention, while at the same time I offer an insight into the country I represent (Cyprus)”.

But the deeper purpose of the use of mythology, as Ferahian explains, is to get people to relate and connect to their environment.
“Our ancestors who were one with nature often used mythology as a psychological tool to keep people attuned to nature. And these archetypical images of mythology are embedded in our minds and dreams.

“Through my work I am hoping these images are triggered in people’s collective consciousness, which can ultimately bring a society together towards a common goal of reconnecting with their natural environment.”

***Published in The Cyprus Weekly, June 21, 2014

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About Melissa Hekkers

I am freelance journalist and author, who has frequently been featured in mainstream news outlets and other publications in Cyprus. Recently, I've been focusing on developing my writing, promoting my own books and teaching creative writing to children and adults. My most recent publication (2020) - Amir's Blue Elephant- pushes the boundaries of creative non-fiction, and recreates the moments that marked me the most, whilst volunteering in refugee camps in Lesvos, Greece, and during her ongoing involvement with the refugee community in Cyprus. In 2018 I published My Capre Greco Mandala which is the third in a series, an interactive colouring book about the biodiversity of the Cape Greco peninsula in Cyprus. My Akamas Mandala, the second in the series, is a colouring book inspired by the variety of endemic plants found on the Akamas Peninsula. In 2016, I published My Nicosia Mandala, the first of the above series, an innovative, interactive colouring book about the historic fortifications of the old town of Nicosia. I also focuses on silenced communities in Cyprus: I writes about migrants and refugees, both as a reporter and a features writer; I profile them and teach them creative writing skills. In 2007, soon after graduating with a Communications degree, I published my first children’s book in both English and Greek entitled Crocodile, which won the Cyprus State Illustration Award. In 2012, I launched my second children’s book Flying across Red Skies (in English and Greek), using an experimental approach to literature, for which I was nominated for the Cyprus State Literary award. My third, similarly well-received children’s book was Pupa (Greek and English), published in 2014. In between the last two books, I published my first free-verse poetry book entitled Come-forth. In 2019 she was contributing author to the anthology Nicosia Beyond Barriers: Voices from a Divided City, published by Saqi Books, London