Nektarios Garis - Potter
On the way to the village of Messagros, close to the temple of Athena Aphaia, lies the pottery of Garis where the last chapter of a pottery tradition and the famous Aegina clay water jugs is possibly written. 60-years old Nektarios Garis is the last craftsman manufacturing the famous Aegina clay water jugs. Due to their outstanding ability to keep drinking water cool, these jugs were much coveted until the middle of the 20th century. Contrary to what most people wrongly believe, it was refrigerators that dethroned clay jugs rather than any other objet made of glass or plastic. Materials such as glass or plastic do not have breathing or sweat properties to cool the content of the jug by water evaporation.
Before electric refrigerators were introduced and before every home was electrified in Greece – many regions in Greece were electrified in the 80s -, Aegina clay water jugs were used throughout the country. Time doesn’t stand still though and this ancient art is currently fading away, since Aegina clay water jugs are no longer considered as practical utensils.
Nektarios Garis, the last traditional potter on the island, home to thousands of potters in the past, is not only making practical utensils (water clay jugs, pitchers, vases, chimney pots, cooking pots) but also uses the raw material that he digs out from the earth of Aegina for making them instead of ordering it from abroad.
Sociable and having adopted a philosophical approach in life, Nektarios works all day. There a lot of things to done; he has to find the right earth material, prepare the local clay, supervise the baking process in the traditional wooden kiln and then, work for hours at the wheel to shape his favorite jugs. “It takes time and patience. You have to keep your nose into the grindstone to get the job done. This is what art is all about. I learned the trade from my father, he learned the trade from his father and so on.
Nektarios feels sad on how young people see arts, on how they do not like this craft. Nevertheless, until he finds a new technician to succeed him, he will keep on making jugs, he will keep on creating. Besides, before leaving the island everyone will surely buy his share of pistachios of Aegina and something to remind him of Aegina from the pottery of Nektarios Garis. This gives Nektarios so much joy, since he sees that his efforts and hard work are definitively acknowledged.
UPDATE: Nektarios Garis passed away on December 1st, 2017 at the age of 61.