From 1205 to 1566 Naxos was the seat of the Dukedom of the Aegean. The Byzantine tradition of working with marble became invigorated by Western influences as the occupying Venetian aristocracy offered construction and architectural opportunities. With the influx of Italian marble workers, the indigenous talent of the Naxian marble sculptors became enhanced. After a prolonged decline, the heritage of marble cutting is now fortunately being refreshed and renewed by artists such as Nikolaos Verikokkos.
After a prolonged decline, the heritage of Naxian marble cutting is now fortunately being refreshed and renewed by artists such as Nikolaos Verikokkos who creates a series of wonderful objects
In late September of 2015, I had undertaken an arduous run by my slackening standards anyway, on an uninspiring tarmac road on the island of Naxos. The landscape was gorgeous, yellow fields, the hay long harvested, bathed golden by the sun, stone walls punctuated with fig trees and rustling bamboo. In search of water and shade, I ascended towards Naxos’ imposing castle built in 1207. And it was there in the shady and sinuous alleyways that I discovered what looked like the happy fusion of an artist’s studio with a bar. A small workshop squashed into the wide castle walls like a Greek island rendering of a shop in Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley.
In the murky interior, it was difficult to see but there they were, twenty or so small marble ashtrays, perfectly crafted. Each one had a different shape, color and contour and also a different texture. Some were smooth and of pristine white, others flecked with grey and some speckled with brown and deeply porous like a stone sponges.
In search of water and shade, I ascended towards Naxos’ imposing castle built in 1207. And it was there in the shady and sinuous alleyways that I discovered a small workshop squashed into the wide castle walls
Born on the island of Naxos, Nikolaos Verikokkos used to accompany his father, a marble craftsman, to the building sites where he worked trying to replicate certain shapes in marble, representative of the figurines and pottery from the Early Cycladic period.
Nikolaos entered the School of Fine Arts in Tinos and studied marble sculpture there after which he worked at the temple of the goddess Demetra which dates back to 530BC, in the Sangri area of Naxos. In 2001, he realized his dream and opened his own marble studio on the island, reviving marble sculpture in its artistic form which had been neglected for many years. He began his commissions with ecclesiastical works as well as architectural projects. Progressively inspired by the sea and by nature, he began to create a series of objects such as mirrors, platters, tables and of course smaller pieces like ashtrays. He sources his marble from the quarries of this large island and uses stones from the shores and mountains.
Born on the island of Naxos, Nikolaos Verykokkos used to accompany his father, a marble craftsman, to the building sites where he worked trying to replicate certain shapes in marble, representative of the figurines and pottery from the Early Cycladic period
The islands of Tinos, Paros and Naxos have been famed for their indigenous marble for many centuries. The renowned Cycladic flat faced figurines many of which were found in the site of Kavos on the currently uninhabited islet of Keros, between Naxos and Amorgos are all crafted from white marble. Whilst the artisans of Paros and Tinos extended their stone craft beyond the sphere of their islands, Naxos gained its reputation as a localized center point, generously dispensing raw materials and technicians to the other islands.