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The Art of Citronne

“Poros is a most enchanting arrangement, obviously designed by demented Japanese children with the aid of Paul Klee and Raoul Dufy,” Lawrence Durrell, “The Greek Islands.” Dr. Tatiana Spinari-Pollalis, Art Historian, decided to open the Citronne Gallery in this island seven years ago. Mrs. Spinari-Pollalis, who spends winters in Boston and summers on Poros, has put this Saronic Island on the map. The gallery is host to major exhibitions from great artists. Tetsis, Botsoglou, Theofylaktopoulos, Antonakos, Theocharakis, Kokkinidis, Koukos, Hatzipateras, Giannakos and Valyraki are but a few of the artists to have had their work exhibited at the Citronne.

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“I am interested in exhibiting works by great artists, who I, of course, like. It is of paramount importance that the works displayed in each exhibit – regardless of the number of pieces – be a representation of the best each artist has to offer. How else could I have built the reputation of the gallery and attracted collectors to Poros?” says Mrs. Spinari-Pollalis. Both she and her husband, Spyros Pollalis, Professor of Architecture at Harvard University and president of Athens College, support regional development, both ideologically and with life experiences. Both his grandfather (from his mother’s side of the family), Nikos Sampanis, and his first cousin, Spyros Spyridon, have served as Mayor of Poros. The Pollalis’ decided to purchase this 19th century house on Poros from the family of the Hydrian hero Tsamados in 2003 and to fully renovate it, creating a living space on the first floor and an art gallery on the ground floor. “The house was gorgeous, on the promenade with a view of the sea and the Peloponnese. The challenge was to integrate the various additions from the 60s, which were incompatible with the building. We worked only with local craftsmen and opted to use stone from Poros,” says Mr. Pollalis. The Poros stone is combined with Dionysos marble on the ground floor, the site of the gallery, and with genuine cedar boards salvaged from the traditional home on the first floor. “Our architectural philosophy was based on using traditional materials and construction methods, to make the interior of the house functional and to seamlessly integrate modern elements such as the kitchen and bathrooms with the corresponding traditional ones,” explains Mrs. Spinaris- Pollalis. She adds, “One of the most difficult tasks was the use of traditional pressed plaster, with colour added, known as “kourasani”. It took a great deal of time, but was worth the wait. Traditional builders from Poros spent all winter pressing and wetting the plaster so it would not crack. The earthy tones of the pressed plasters give the interiors an exceptionally warm and aged feel. The red, blue and ochre coloured walls fuse with the white doors and the original wide plank hardwood floors, worn and scratched with the passage of time and painted light blue. A unique feature of the house is its wooden balcony, one of just a few on Poros. The iron railing, made by a local craftsman, is reminiscent of the architecture seen on the islands of Hydra and Spetses”.

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