Also in the Embroidery of Old Maps and New Project
Making Lace – the first film of An Embroidery of Old Maps and New project.
Filmmaker – Faezeh Alavi
Poem, voice and photo – Angela Costi
Film music – Alana Hunt and Sofia Chapman of VARDOS
Funding support – City of Melbourne, COVID19 Arts Grants
Host – Greek Australian Cultural League (GACL)
This collaborative videopoem project was conducted during the various stages of restrictions and lockdown in Melbourne, Australia. GACL cancelled its art exhibition and poetry event, titled Connection, in which Costi was scheduled to feature reading a series of poems. This is an earlier poem of Costi’s that focuses on the value of connection through inherited skills.
In this poem there are some words in Cypriot, which reference the particular needlepoint techniques used when making Lefkaratika embroidery. Costi’s grandmother, Yiayia Maroulla, found a way to rise above poverty by making this intricate embroidery. In the 15th century, Leonardo da Vinci visited Cyprus and took a Lefkara lace back to Italy with him to decorate the Duomo Cathedral in Milan. The final six lines of the poem were edited for the purposes of the film. First published in Notata Online Arts Journal, no.1, March 2009, with subsequent acknowledged publication in Southern Sun, Aegean Light, Poetry of Second-Generation Greek-Australians, Edited N N Trakakis, 2011.
I see her as I see me, sitting on chairs before the impact of our craft,
both intent on making a story from a sequence, a gift out of repetition,
her stitch is my letter, her design is my phrase,
thread weave through out and in.
She is framed by a mountainous fig tree,
I have the hallway of wedding and christening photos,
her eyes meld to hands to thread to tsimbi to glosi
to caterpillar turrets to butterfly balconies
to geometrical dreamscapes of Venetian ladies
for Leonardo da Vinci to take to Rome
to robe the table for the last supper
to paint and adorn the Milan Cathedral, that is the myth from linen,
she is the story on linen,
no longer woman in small village sitting under a tree for days months years
of thread weave through out and in, our skin
an embroidery of old maps and new,
Lefkara, Larnaca, Kyrenia, Hartchia,
Riverwood, Bankstown, Lalor, Reservoir
thread weave through out and in,
she lives in each strand of cotton perle, the white, brown and ecru,
she makes houses, rivers, wells, trees, caves
for secret lovers, lost children, dying soldiers,
she peeks through gofti, through fairy windows, and sees me,
letter by letter, crossing the keyboard
thread weave through out and in,
she sees her children’s children not work in fields harvesting rotten crops,
not work in factories making hard, rough, poisonous things,
not work in shops selling dry, fried food,
she sees a series of baby girls named after her, dressed in white,
she lives in the stroke of a foreign letter by letter, word by word,
thread, weave through out and in.
Faezeh Alavi is an Iranian filmmaker, actress and graduate of Theatre Directing from Sooreh Art University, Tehran, with a Master of Arts in puppet theatre. Since 2016, she has resided in Melbourne, Australia. She has directed over seven short films, two of which won awards from Greenmefilmfestival, Greenfestival, Veterans Film Festival and the Aswara Film Festival in 2016. Her short film, The Private Part, was screened at the St. Kilda Film Festival 2020.
Alana Hunt and Sofia Chapman (VARDOS) are renowned musicians for playing folk and Romany music, which they have learnt directly from Roma (Gypsy) musicians during their Eastern European travels. They have played in major music festivals across Australia and overseas, featured in films, television and radio; been nominated for the BBC Radio3 World Music Awards and Aria award finalists. They have provided film scores for a number of plays and short films, including The Private Part. https://www.vardos.com.au
Angela Costi is the author of four poetry collections, eight plays and a community arts book, Relocated. Influenced by her Cypriot heritage, travel and migration have been part of Costi’s writing history. In 1995, she received a travel award from the Australian National Languages and Literacy Board to study Ancient Greek Drama in Greece. In 2009, she travelled to Japan with funding from the Australian Council for the Arts to work on an international collaboration involving her poetry and Japan-based, Stringraphy Ensemble. https://www.facebook.com/AngelaCostiPoetics/