Mary Plant Retrospective at Palia Ilektriki Cultural Center, Paphos
Mary Plant: Mythographies
(3 September – 27 October 2022)
Mythographies, a retrospective exhibition of Mary Plant, opens on 3 September 2022 at Palia Ilektriki
Cultural Center in Paphos. The exhibition curated by Marina Christodoulidou and Marina Demosthenous,
and co-organized by the Deputy Ministry of Culture (Cultural Services), Paphos Municipality and Kimonos
Art Center, is the first to showcase the inimitable and multifold oeuvre of the Cypriot visual artist over the
last forty years.
The exhibition embarks from Plant’s early work, created during her studies in London and immediately
after. This line of work, on tissue paper, brings out tactility as the foremost expressive element and
establishes both discernible and indiscernible correlations with the writing process in its broader sense.
Writing, but also myth, manifested in Plant’s work from the very beginning, are innate components as well
as formalistic elements in her art, feeding into each other as the exhibition title suggests. Plant
approaches her work along an extended study process through which she puts together written and living
narratives whilst documenting multifaceted interpretations of myths.
Born in Ammochostos in 1943, Plant lived and worked in London for more than three decades (1975-
2010). Felt memories of the familiar space confer upon her work the expansive space that would allow
the artist an imaginary view of her homeland. Remembrance and the imaginary, nostos and wandering,
are notions applicable across the span of the artist’s body of work, factoring as keywords into its
interpretation. The sense of belonging, proposed as inside figment and loss, is articulated in the guise of
visual poetry, starting with Salamis of Cyprus - a space surrounded by seawater - where the cavea of the
Theatre of Salamis is transformed through purely unconscious workings into the shell in which Aphrodite
reaches Cyprus to be born. The cavea, or shell, is recurrent across variations in the artist’s subsequent
Mythography is the process through which Plant draws and collects signs to lay out on the painting
surface. Her practice revives the myth within contemporary contexts and sheds light into the mythical,
through forms and compositions that endow her ventures in her own visual language.
The broadest spectrum of her work revolves around the emergence of goddess Aphrodite from the sea,
therefore around the question of the origins of form from an amorphous state. Plant also narrates the
goddess’s mythical or imaginary biography, which she dexterously ascribes to a variety of versions.
Invoking the baetylus, the sacred stone that reposed in the temple of Aphrodite in Palaepaphos, the artist
brings out the goddess’s primal, archetypal representation. In this manner, Plant explicates Aphrodite’s
eastern features and her multicultural being – none other than the very identity of Cyprus and the
Mediterranean as a melting pot of civilizations, a space of hybridity, perpetual movement, and composite
The symbolism of Aphrodite as a referential figure of creativity runs the length of Plant’s body of work,
most poignantly in the Aphrodite’s Garden and Hymns of the Cyprian Sea series, whose epitome of
creation is drawn from Anthogrammata (2000). The latter is an alphabet inspired by the forms of flowers
and fruits, which Plant intended as a new scripture for a visual language. Following her journeys to
Siberia and Mongolia in the 1990s, the artist creates a cluster of works under the theme of Eros. Here, as
well as in the earlier Salamis (1980), the artist’s unabridged texts recur in the form of visual art poetry,
making Plant the first Cypriot woman artist to create artist’s books. These books make up her unique
sculptural work, in an ongoing evolution from the early years of her practice to this day.
Mary Plant was born in Ammochostos in 1943. She studied painting at Chelsea School of Art, London
(1976-81) where she earned a postgraduate degree. She has held solo and group exhibitions in England,
Cyprus, France, Germany, Russia and Hong Kong, garnering awards for her work from the early days of
her career. Her art has been referenced in international periodical reviews such
as Art Monthly and Women’s Art since the 1990s. Works by Plant make part of numerous private
collections in Cyprus and abroad, as well as of public collections, including the State Collection of Cypriot
Art, the collection of the A.G. Leventis Foundation in London and the collection of the Bank of Cyprus
Cultural Foundation. Her travels to Siberia and Mongolia at the invitation of the Artists Union of
Krasnoyarsk and Ulan Bator, respectively, have had a catalytic effect on her art practice. Today, the artist
lives and works in Nicosia and in Kouklia.
The exhibition will include a series of parallel events engaging the public. Research into the work of Mary
Plant brings to life a series of publications, one of which materializes in collaboration with Armida Books.
PALIA ILEKTRIKI CULTURAL CENTER
8, Vladimirou Irakleous, 8010 Pafos
Saturday, 3 September 2022, 19:00
3 September – 27 October 2022
Monday – Friday 9:00–13:00& 15:00–18:00