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Q&A: eileen botsford, artist

PUBLIC artist Eileen Botsford has been working on a vast spectrum of on-site and on-line Public Art projects and commissions in Greece and internationally, giving inspirational talks, and exhibiting in group and solo exhibitions worldwide. Currently she is the Public Art Tutor, Mixed Media Labs Tutor and the Historical and Contextual Studies Lecturer at the Doukas BTEC Foundation in Art & Design. Eileen is also working with The National Museum of Contemporary Art,  Athens (in the framework of the program ‘EMST Without Borders’), designed and organised in collaboration with ‘KETHEA In Action’ through the educational program “Making my own home” #projecthome for the women therapeutic group of KETHEA in Action, in Koridallo’s Correctional Facility.

How Greek are you?
I feel very Greek in my own way. Having been born and brought up in Greece and having lived as a child in Athens and Syros, I was privileged to have tasted the multifaceted beauty of Greece. The light, the terrain, the culture are all extremely strong elements which form a big part my identity.

What is most important to you right now?
For my family to be healthy and for me to be healthy so I can look after them. After that come other things like having work and keeping work, something somewhat of a luxury right now in Greece and which I am extremely grateful to have, as well as personal ambitions which orientate around helping others through teaching art and creating my own art.

What are you most grateful for?
My family’s and my health first and for most. Living in a country where we have no war, and hopefully no war in the foreseeable future. My husband and the family and home we have created together. He is my best friend and our home is my rock, support center and safety net. My children who are my everything and who have taught me to be humble, patient and resilient. My large family extended to all tips of the globe but who stay ‘together’ and connected because of love. My friends, oh my friends, what would I do without them? I am also grateful for moments of laughter, moments of enlightenment and carefree moments. The latter I am trying to create more of.

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What scares you most?
I am a mother, I think there is only one thing that scares mothers the most and it’s too scary to even mention, so I won’t.

What is Greece to you?
Home.

Your one favourite thing about Greece past, present and future?
Past, the beautiful childhood memories it granted me with.
Present, the big questions we all have about our country which are linked to the willpower to create and change.
Future, will see…

Your least favourite thing about Greece past, and present?
Disrespect for this land, which is a result of selfish and non-collective thinking.

Your fantasy / big wish for Greece?
To bring to the surface all its strong points and cherish them, while at the same to throw light on and preserve the haven it has the potential to be.

Where do you definitely stay away from? 
Tacky touristy hotspots, and there are lots of them. Loud places.

Your favourite Greek hotspots right now?
I love central Athens, I love discovering areas which have changed sociologically through time, finding traces of the ‘old Athens’ and taking closer looks into the ‘new’ multifaceted Athens which is so wonderfully mysterious and made up of so many contradictions.

Your favourite Greek word, and why?
Thalpori. ‘Θαλπωρή’ The one who knows what it feels like to receive Thalpori is a very lucky person, and one must strive to learn how to offer it. It’s what gives us all strength to carry on.

What smell do you associate with Greece?
Oh so many smells! From fish being fried to the dry mud in the air from the windy summers.

What would you take with you to remind you of Greece?
Pictures from the home I spent my childhood summers at on Syros. The song ‘Fragosyriani’

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