Judy Findlay, The Coffeeshop, c. 1960, Oil on board, Collection of Costas and Rita Severis Foundation
Judy Findlay was a famous British singer known by the name Judy Shirley, who traveled to Cyprus for the first time in 1947 for a concert for the British army, and fell in love with the island. In 1951, she decided to retire from the show business and moved to Cyprus with her husband Roy Findlay, a former actor. Together they opened a restaurant at Kyrenia harbor that became very prosperous and popular until 1974. Judy, the artistic soul she was, got inspired by a scene in a traditional coffee shop and made this painting.
Activity one: Once upon a time in a coffee shop
Have you ever visited a traditional village in Cyprus? If yes, I am sure that you have walked around the village square and maybe sat in a coffee shop to drink a glass of chilled water or lemonade or enjoy a traditional spoon sweet. Most probably you have chosen to sit outside, under the shadow of an enormous, old tree, enjoying the breeze and the melodies of the singing birds…
Observe now the coffee shop in the painting very carefully:
- How many figures can you count?
- Can you spot the little boy?
Sit now just like the boy, close your eyes and imagine that you are inside the painting.
- What time is it and what is the weather like?
- What can you see around you?
- What can you hear?
- What can you smell?
- How do you feel?
- Why are there no women in the coffee shop?
- Were women back then free to walk around, work or meet for a coffee outside the house?
- In a coffee shop today can we see women or not? What changed?
Did you know…
The first coffee shops in Cyprus appeared in the mid 18th century, during the Ottoman period. In the coffee shops back then you could meet only men, as women were not allowed to step in.
They would go there not only to drink coffee but also to get informed about current news. There, they would make any kind of deals or they would decide about the upcoming marriages of their children.
Activity two: A theatre scene
Let’s imagine that the painting is the scene of a theatrical play and the figures are the actors.
Can you spot these characters?
- A priest
- A child
- A dog
- A musician
- Someone dancing
- A sailor
- A seller
- Someone wearing a hat
- Someone sitting on the chair backwards
- A man with a tie
Now observe carefully.
- What are they wearing?
- Can you make freezing poses imitating each one of them?
Now you can give a name to each character and create your own theatrical script with short dialogues. For example, what might the sailor say with the seller or the musician with the dancer?
You can write or record the dialogues and send them to us at email@example.com
Activity three: Like a child’s painting
Observing Judy’s painting we can understand that she is not a professional but rather an amateur artist. However, this painting is very important as we learn a lot about the way people lived at that time and also the perspective of a foreign woman in Cyprus.
Did you know…
The art that seems childish is called naïve. Naïve artists usually paint the world as they see them, not following rules and forms. A famous naïve Cypriot artist was Michael Kassialos.
Naïve artist usually chooses to draw daily scenes. You can also draw a daily scene from school, home or a day out and send it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t forget to sign your painting!
Activity four: Magda’s story
Listen now to Magda HERE, describing a coffee shop in Cyprus at the beginning of the 20th century (adapted from the book of Magda Ohnefalsch-Richter, Greek Customs and Mores in Cyprus, Laiki Bank Cultural Foundation, Nicosia 1994)
The challenge is to visit a traditional village and enjoy your drink at a traditional coffee shop. Why not make a painting just like Judy?
Let's go to the museum
We will be more than happy to welcome you to the museum! You can look around the exhibition rooms and spot anything that can be related to coffee shops. That could be paintings or objects. How many can you find?