THE HONORARY PARTICIPATION OF YANNIS POLITIS
Yannis Politis, the painter and conservator of the Palace of Knossos, honoured with his presence the “Contemporary Minoans” event, organised by the Branding Heritage cultural organisation at the Museum of London on the 5th of November, 2019. For more than 25 years, he has been upholding the tradition of preservation and restoration at one of the most important world monuments, guided by the valuable knowledge he received from his father who worked in Arthur Evans’ team. In addition to restoring the colours of the palace frescoes and many other conservation and maintenance works, Yannis Politis has painted an area of 2,350 sq.m. Below you can find his speech or watch his address in the video that follows.
“Ladies and gentlemen, distinguished guests, thank you for being here tonight. I was born through my father’s gaze. He was a tireless conservator at the Palace of Knossos. As a child, I remember my father showing me the Tyrian purple colour high up the columns. “This is what comes out of a shell, my son.” he would say, beaming with joy. “Do you see the worn out stairs? This is because of King Minos’ heavy steps”. In his workshop he would make the colours, the tools and the designs that I still use to this day. So I learned everything from the man I admired all my life. The colours of Knossos haunt me even in my sleep. Like a priest, I minister to the monument of the first ever European civilisation and each day, for 25 years, I pray to be worthy of my role. History and myths dwell in the parts of the building that have been damaged by time, in the frescoes glorifying the proud figures of the prince with the lilies, of the bull with the acrobats. The King’s unscathed marble throne, the queen’s unbroken earthen bathtub… The history of global civilisation teaches us to respect our ancestors and their works. The poets, representatives of the gods, speak of love as the only path to the teachings of the beauty and virtue that the future holds. Knossos owes so much to the great explorer and excavator Arthur Evans, Crete honours his name, and our gratitude towards the country that gave birth to him is immense”.