Nancy Atakan and Kalliopi Lemos: It still is as it always was

Pi Artworks is delighted to announce It still is as it always was, the first joint exhibition by Nancy Atakan and Kalliopi Lemos; artists who have established considerable international reputations for work rooted in storytelling, identity and the female experience. The exhibition will feature the premiere of the collaborative film, ‘Necklace of Time’, several new individual works, as well as a special performance based on ‘Necklace of Time’ to be staged at the opening. 


In ‘Necklace of Time’, Lemos and Atakan enter an eternal, poetic world where they engage in a ritual-like performance.  Wearing heavy golden necklaces adorned with colorful jewels referencing Ottoman designs and reminiscent of Byzantine armour, the artists engage in the task of removing the jewels and replacing them with small embroidered words chosen to reflect their lived experiences – birth, love, friendship and marriage.

The genesis of this collaboration came through a shared interest in female and familial stories in which women are often the ‘keepers’ of cherished memories and stories passed down through the generations. Shared memories are a precious inheritance assuming acute importance during the transition from one significant life stage to another; from youth to maturity.

At each stage we both attain and lose something important and in ‘Necklace of Time’, this is given tangible form in the ritual act of adornment and substitution embodied by the elaborate necklaces worn by Lemos and Atakan. As mature women, the artists realize they no longer need the materialistic adornment they might have desired in youth. Now only memories of experiences and relationships remain valuable and these rich experiences gain further currency through the act of being shared; the ‘jewels’ handed on to their daughters and granddaughters, just as they were once imparted to them.


‘The diamonds, the rubies and the gold of all the precious moments that I lived, oh my little one, they should grace you now. You are the one to carry them forward because you are the future!’

From ‘Necklace of Time’ by Nancy Atakan and Kalliopi Lemos.


These inevitable stages mimic the natural seasons, or the transition of day to night noted by T.S. Eliot in The Waste Land; the ‘shadow at morning striding behind you’, transforms to the ‘shadow at evening rising to meet you’. Contemporary western culture has placed an excessive value on youthful femininity but in appreciating the experiences and opportunities of young and old women alike, we begin to address a universal need for equality rooted in feminism.