Skyrian woodcarving

Traditional craftsmanship in Greece – woodcarving on the island of Skyros Lefteris Avgoklouris carving a chair leg

Lefteris Avgoklouris tells us about the island Skyros’ particular tradition and the connection to his passion, woodcarving.

On the way from the village Skyros to Aspous, the workshop of Lefteris Avgoklouris is situated above the coastal road. A couple of years ago he and his partner Emmanuella Toliou have build a house and thereby fulfilled their dream of working and living in the same place. Lefteris Avgoklouris’ fascination about typical Skyrian woodcarving started when he was helping out a carpenter at only 11 years old and thereupon started an apprenticeship. Afterwards he worked on a cargo ship for two years in order to earn his seed capital. When he was 19 he came back. He bought a band saw and started his workshop in 1978. Lefteris is passionately devoted to the carving of traditional Skyrian furniture: the typical Skyrian chair, the long benches and the abundantly decorated wall racks. The sheperds’ woodcarving and international influences of navigators that have passed the island on their route from Asia Minor over centuries have shaped this particular style.

Simplicity and functionality that also inspired Le Corbusier
Lefteris talks about the traditional interior of a Skyrian house, where simple functionality combines with woodcarving. A Skyrian house is built from a simple rectangular layout, just one room with a ceiling height of about 3,80 m. The interior is separated into two parts by a wooden construction, a sleeping area with a gallery and a spacious multipurpose room. Le Corbusier visited the island of Skyros several times. The unique architecture inspired the master of modernity, Lefteris proudly tells us. It’s a house type that, according to archaeological finds, hasn’t changed since centuries.

Praise on the craft
“I need about two to four days for one chair, I work accurately and I take my time.” Lefteris Avgoklouris is happy with his profession; he is proud of his workshop and he is also proud to have enough turnover to be able to pay an employee. The young people’s lack of interest in this tradition however makes him sad. For Lefteris this is a problem of communication. “I am willing to give workshops. On the upper floor I have set up a big room for this purpose.” There is space, but neither interest nor support from school programmes, he tells us. It’s not about offering a recreational activity. He wants to pass on his knowledge to the next generation and create training opportunities, even though only few people are inspired by a handicraft trade and decide to take on an apprenticeship.

On Lefteris Avgoklouris’ website one can find different designs of the beautiful Skyrian chair.

Lefteris Avgoklouris leafs through a photocopied book about Greek folk art by Angeliki Hatzimichali