Some artists study the masterpieces of their craft. Mykonos mosaic artist Irene Syrianou lived among the masterpieces in Greece.
Syrianou spent a decade as a resident guard on the island of Delos, renowned for its 350-plus exquisite mosaics dating back to the second and first centuries B.C. “The first year, I was so energized by the island that I would stay awake just to feel the beauty at all times,” she recalls. “Walking among the ruins, laying on that sacred ground, imagining being in that ancient civilization filled my days with joy.”
She now strives to share that joy with visitors to her studio in Mykonos Town (also known as Chora), the island’s port town and capital. There, she fashions works of her own imagination as well as re-creations of the most famous Delos mosaics. Her bestsellers are the Delos dolphins and Tanit, an ancient goddess of the heavens and fertility whose mosaic on Delos overlooked Syrianou’s family’s cottage.
Syrianou also offers classes in the ancient art form. “It’s important for me to give visitors an opportunity to experience a part of Mykonos that exists beyond the nightlife and beaches,” she says. “Mosaics are a journey back in time. I enjoy sharing this journey with my students and giving them an experience that might ignite such a passion in them.”
How has Mykonos inspired your creativity? I grew up in this place where light and stone have a topographical relationship that defines the landscape. Mosaic is stone and light.
What do you enjoy about creating mosaics? Each step excites me in a different way. Cutting the stone pieces, for me, is a form of meditation. The search for the exact stones is thrilling. There is also an aspect of being one with the earth. The mud and stones in my hands give me a feeling of wholeness.
Irene’s Must-Dos on Mykonos
Appaloosa Restaurant Bar (Mykonos Town): The ambience and music are joyful. The cocktails are excellent.
Cafe Yialos (Mykonos Town): It’s the last authentic tavern on the waterfront, with an iconic view and welcoming owners. Try the sausages and omelets.
Kiki’s Tavern (Agios Sostis Beach): It has a magnificent view of the sea. They serve great steaks, salads and cake.
Mykonos Farmers (Agios Lazaros): These cheesemakers offer a tasting menu and cooking workshops.