What follows was published a couple of times in the late 1990’s. The editors of both publications, expressed the hope that no-one would take it seriously. Suffice it to say that the Art of mixed-media scatterings is still alive and well in Cyprus.

A Modest Proposal

It can’t be denied that Cyprus has a litter problem, but how many of us appreciate how serious it is? Go to the summit of Kyparisha in the Limassol Forest. The views are stupendous but, apart from a few miserable shotgun cartridges, a beer can or two, and perhaps a cigarette packet, there is little trace of civilisation there. 

That is the crux of the problem. Just a short distance away from the beaten track, the improving processes of modern culture peter out and wild nature is allowed to take over. Admittedly, the more accessible places present no problem. The Phasoula road leading to the now-abandoned public tip is a good example. Along its length, a veritable art gallery of rubbish, litter, trash and coloured plastic greets the eye. Amazingly, some attractive items actually reached the tip itself in its heyday. Even here, a short journey on foot will soon take you beyond the range of human artifice, though the fragrance of the place spreads a little further.

The fact is that, while the aesthetic properties of the shards and rotting relics of the city on the countryside are widely recognised, general apathy has led to the squandering of real opportunities for adornment. It is surprising that official agencies have not taken a hand, for it must be recognised that a concerted effort is needed to spread the effects of civilisation ever deeper into the countryside. Here are a few suggestions:

Defunct vehicles do not deteriorate fast in this climate, and they already form the bases of some impressive semi-permanent displays. Magnificent collages exist in all the cities, even round many villages, though it must be said that such ostentation only acts to accentuate the gap between town and the country.  Overall, not nearly enough attention is given to old cars, discarded fridges, cookers, washing machines and the like. Even in prime sites such as the eucalyptus woods and cane fields round the Salt Lake, objects of this sort are being allowed to rot away in comparative obscurity. Is it beyond the imagination of Man to throw a touch of bright paint at them from time to time? This would not only enhance their effect, but extend their life span. Surely we all know that once these priceless objects are gone they will be lost forever.

There must be some mileage to be gained from setting up awards for the most artistically challenging abandonments of this kind. On the whole, high places are singularly ignored, though some avant garde work is starting to appear on the very roof tops in the towns.

Such sophistication is to be encouraged, perhaps by government grants. Sponsorship by local industry is in its infancy, though it has to be said, that areas adjacent to the industrial estate near Ypsonas show what can be done with just a little effort.

To reach the more remote fastnesses of the island, hunters, who already contribute much, could be enlisted in a more organised way. It is worth considering that spent cartridges weigh much less than live ones. Since the time is approaching when there will be little left for them to shoot at, hunters might be allotted designated areas where they can blaze away to their hearts’ content. The empties could then be collected and taken, along with their often colourful boxes, to the nethermost parts of Cyprus. Dogs could easily be trained to carry small panniers, while those who love the traditions of the countryside might prefer to load up a couple of donkeys and, in that timeless Mediterranean way, bring colour and beauty to a drab countryside.

These cartridges are very beautiful. They come in many colours and take years to deteriorate. We already know how well they look, strewn in profusion along the forest trails, but our aim must be to achieve a greater spread and to display them at their best. They could be arranged around rocks, festooned on bushes, or made into intricate mobiles hanging from high boughs. Floating exhibits might even be created on the ponds and reservoirs when water is present. When it is not, they would settle in unpredictable patterns, mirroring the random effects at work in the universe.

The possibilities are endless. Already a great range of creative and imaginative work can be seen in a bewildering multiplicity of media. Broken glass, builders’ rubble, domestic appliances and crockery make up many of the more lasting displays. Other creations are touchingly short-lived, ephemeral as the butterflies that cavort in giddy pairs in the bondu. Magical miniatures in rotting vegetation, carrion from the butchers and hotel kitchens (alas too quickly eroded by the myriads of flies, microbes and rodents that abound) may be admired in many a secluded spot.

Ultimately, one might imagine a technology that would equip every family car with  computer-controlled garbage disposal facilities, designed to deposit wild fantasies of material on the verges of the motorway and lesser byways. By that time, a progressive authority will have suspended the collection of garbage. This, coupled with legislation obliging householders to dispose of their rubbish in an eye-catching way, will take us nearer to our goal.

We stand at the threshold of a great social and cultural revolution. Let us built on what has already been achieved. The key to progress must be to bring about an even greater spread. Already, priceless objects lie interred beneath magnificent piles of rubbish. These must be exhumed and made available for all to enjoy. We cannot afford to waste our waste. Our philosophy must be to spread out litter thinly and visibly – otherwise, we will NEVER cover the whole of Cyprus.

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