People of Aegina #9 – Kostas Varotsos
Kostas Varotsos, the sculptor of the Gate of Aegina and the famous Runner of Athens, explains how he discovered by chance his own heaven on our island. We visited him in his beautiful house in Tzikides, at the top of the mountain, with amazing views and unique energy. Enjoy his thoughts, feelings, and memories in the interview below.
I love Aegina because…
It saves me every time. It is a salvation for me.
Aegina came into my life…
Without my will. I traveled a lot and used to have a nomadic life. I studied abroad, and I was in different parts of the world each time because of my job. I was in New York when Stavros Xarchakos, a friend of mine for many years, called me, told me that he had just given an advance payment for my plot of land in Aegina and hunged up. I initially thought it was a joke, but after I returned to Athens from New York in ’96 -97, we went together to my plot in Aegina. I saw the breathtaking views, and I thought that here, on this mountain, I should create my studio and my house. I started designing it on my own, and it turned out to be exactly the way I wanted it.
And suddenly I started discovering Aegina…
I already knew and loved the island because we used to sail here. We went to bars, we had our acquaintances, but I never thought of building a home here. When I decided to do so, I finally began to observe the seasons of Aegina and feel the energy of the glorious view I have. I could see the incredible qualities of this island and its location. Aegina belongs to a sea with a history of 3000 years. You are here, you look at the sea, and inside that sea shipwrecks of 3,000 years are hidden. Just across Aegina is Epidavros. Here is where culture was born. Aegina has become the mother’s nest.
We had magical years in Aegina…
When I decided that my daughter should go to school on the island, we moved with my family, and we sent our child to Kypseli’s elementary school. It turned out to be a very good school, where my daughter grew up inside the big hug of her teachers. She had the opportunity to play out in the yard. I pay attention to the simplicity of such things. Our nice neighborhood turned into unforgettable parties, and I gradually started discovering the cultural part of Aegina. I began to bond myself with the Temple of Aphaea and Paleochora. They are healing points for me, their energy is amazing.
Aegina is my place
My studio and my main house are here. Aegina is my homeland, where I can’t wait to come back every time I travel. It is an important cycle. Wherever you may go, you must be able to go back where you started, the movement should be circular so that the trip eventually has a meaning.
I was in danger of taking root somewhere abroad by accident, but I was lucky, and I made Greece my base. It was a very conscious and persistent decision, even in difficult times, I did not leave my country. This decision did not stop me from making my travels and my projects. I do things abroad, but I’m here, I start from here.
What connects me to the island is the memories I have.
Initially, I tied myself to Aegina because of the need to have a base and my friendship with Stavros Xarchakos. Now, what connects me is my memories, my daughter growing up here, my many friends, all the people who have embraced me. I love the island, and I try to help where I can.
The Gate of Aegina and my paradise…
When I was asked to create a sculpture for Aegina, the first thing that came to my mind was a door. Every time I come, it feels like opening a door and entering another dimension, entering paradise. When I arrive here, I leave everything behind, and I am different. This feeling that the island causes you just an hour after you leave Athens behind is magical. It feels like opening a door, entering, and suddenly appearing somewhere else. This is exactly what my work on the port depicts.
My favorite places in Aegina…
All the places of Aegina are interesting. Eleonas, Aphaea Temple, the coastal road to Perdika are all magical places, as well as the amazing road that makes the tour of the island. But apart from the landscapes, it is also the awareness that Aegina has a story of culture. I feel that it has cultural foundations from people who passed before me, such as Moralis, Kapralos, Kazantzakis, all these people who left their work and energy here.
Aegina in a word…
The nest where I come and hide myself, the feeling of returning home. Home gives you the confirmation of the consciousness of your existence.
Is it true that the light of Aegina inspires artists?
The light of Greece is a special light that begins and becomes more intense from Athens and below. However, the light of Aegina that inspires artists is not so much due to its geographical location, but because of the light of history, which is stronger than real light. In Aegina, you are bathed in 3,000 years of history. It is this combination of many things that makes the difference and inspires artists.
Aegina gives peace.
Everything invites you to calm down and relax. When I’m tired or sad, I go for a walk in Aphaea, I lean my back on the rock next to the entrance for ten minutes, and I look at the columns. Then I get up, and I’m fine. That’s where I calm down.
When I’m in Aegina I feel the historical roots of the island.
There is nothing more important than knowing your origin. Aegina has a huge history. It is like an incredible aircraft, as Stavros Xarchakos says, who has not yet shown its potential, for various reasons. If there is unity, it will be possible to create something incredible.
Aegina can become a destination for artistic and cultural activities.
The island has an artistic tradition, so it could become an international nucleus that expresses the local production of culture, opening a dialogue with an international community of artists. All of this requires togetherness and parallel work at all levels. Let’s say that even small actions, such as planting flower beds on the beach, are a small, almost insignificant thing that makes a big difference. I am a friend of Aegina and I help wherever I can. I am autonomous and independent, but present.
A few words about We Love Aegina
I discovered We Love Aegina through Facebook. It has freshness, spontaneity, aesthetics, and of course a good spirit and great intentions!
Stay tuned for more #weloveaegina stories!
Do you want to become an Aegina Ambassador yourself or do you know anybody else who would like to? Send us an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org or contact us through our social media!