By chance, speaking to John Pack, Director of the Aegean Center for the Fine Arts, to congratulate him on the wonderful opening night of the Gop Moulls sculpture exhibition, I learned that no one to his knowledge had written a piece for ‘Paros Life’ about the event. I decided that, for the first time, I would “do my duty” and cobble together an informal review of that wonderful evening, not from an art “expert’s” point of view, but just from my own personal experience.
Saturday, the 19th of July, 2003 was an evening to remember here on Paros.
Most everyone reading this paper already knows it was not just the opening of Gop Moulls’ sculpture exhibit at the Aegean Center for the Fine Arts, but also a chance to see rock and folk star of the 1960’s, Donovan Leitch (usually known simply as ‘Donovan’), perform.
The event was joyous in every respect and all involved have much to be proud of; Gyp for his fanciful and thought-provoking marble and bronze sculptures, the performers, the Aegean Center for a very fine and professional hosting of such a major event here on Paros, and the many people who attended for being so well-mannered and respectful in very close surroundings.
Whether you were a fan of Donovan’s music or of Gyp’s sculpture was almost immaterial. The evening was imbued with such a joyfully spirited, almost playful, ambiance that it was infectious - one could not help smiling - and we left glowing, regenerated and revived.
The Aegean Center was so very lovely, its courtyard - the venue for Donovan’s short concert - lit softly, with fountain trickling, seemed to contain the crowd of people almost magically. To be honest, I can hardly remember the sequence of events, but each one unfolded to give us all delightful gifts to remember for a long time. First came two modern dancers (Simone Cavin and Duncan Rowens), dancing to the quiet, to the hush of the crowd, a silent dance without music. Their gentle, whimsical movement, like a short meditation, almost like vespers, was perfect to set the tone for what came next. They were followed by the wonderful Greek-Norwegian violinist Olof Dimitris who, like the Pied Piper standing atop the balcony wall, played beautifully a haunting gypsy deliverance that elevated our hearts and our minds to a place where we could truly feel and enjoy the rest of the evening’s events.
After Olof’s fine piece came poet Rory Brennan who read the poem ‘At the End of the Valley’ which he wrote as a tribute to Gyp exactly one year earlier to the day and which portrays such a true likeness of the sculptor (see Poet’s Corner, ‘Paros Life’, Aug 2002). And then came Donovan, friend of Gypsy Dave for all these many years. It had been 37 years since Donovan was last on Paros with Gyp, and it was with that short story that Donovan led us into his first song, a new piece inspired by fragments of Sappho. Next came a touching song about earlier days, younger days shared with Gyp.
Donovan performed five songs altogether, including ‘Laleña’, ‘Writer in the Sun’ (composed on Paros), ‘To Try for the Sun’ (about Gyp and Donovan when they left home to travel), two of which were accompanied by Olof on his soulful fiddle. I was surprised and pleased to hear Donovan still sings so beautifully; there was simply nothing lacking - save a longer set!
But what struck me the most, as I believe it did most everyone there, was the utter joy of the event. To look around at all the radiant faces during the evening was uplifting enough, but Gyp’s transparent delight throughout the entire event was particularly gratifying and conveyed the spirit of the evening for all of us.
I am not an articulate person, especially about art or music, or even the workings of a small art school on a Greek island, but in my own self, in my soul, I am utterly knowledgeable about the difference between good and bad. The evening of the 19th of July was good. Beyond good - it was extraordinary.
Thank you, Gop Moulls, John Pack, Donovan and all those who participated - yes, everyone present in fact - for making it so very special and memorable an event.