What urges a pharmacist from Corfu to represent the island’s Easter with a playmobile without any commercial purpose? To spend hours every day for four months in order to create in detail her individual pieces?
First, the famous old philharmonic band of the island, with the impressive uniforms, helmets and trumpets, and then the customs from ‘Listo’ and the ‘Epitafio’ of Good Friday with the purple lights on the street, to ‘Mastela’ and the famous pots that smash on the ground to keep evil away.
Piece by piece, Konstantina Kouri built a universe where tradition meets childhood memories. Today, she has gone as far as creating 60cm tall philharmonic musicians with playmobiles.
“I’ve been working with playmobiles since 2017. I didn’t start with the intention of making Easter, but the old Philharmonic band. Due to the fact that my father was on the Board of Directors and my brother was a trumpeter there, we kind of had it in our blood, so that’s how I started,” Konstantina tells The Greek Herald.
“When COVID-19 came, when we did not celebrate Easter in Corfu – which is a very large part here – I decided to do the rest.”
For Konstantina, Easter in Corfu is all about the music.
“A big part of it is based on the philharmonic bands. From Palm Sunday, when all the philharmonics come out, they play mournfully and put you in that mood. On Good Friday, watching the Epitafio pass by while the bands play mournful music, gives you goosebumps. You can feel it. They give another note, another timbre to the island,” she says.
“After the pots are smashed, they play happy marches. You understand that in the Resurrection everything is combined with the music.”
During the two years of the pandemic, the philharmonics did not go out on the island. As Konstantina typically says, “no one felt like it was Easter.”
“For Corfu, lighting the candle and skewering the lamb is not Easter. These are not Corfu customs. It’s not so much the church part of it, people have applied the music part,” she says.
Her playmobiles started with first decorating her pharmacy and then a friendly shop.
“I always had a dream to make big playmobiles, 1.6 metres. Until I got there I said, ‘let’s start first with the 60 centimetres.’ It happened thanks to the three philharmonics of the city, Palaia, Mantzaros and Kapodistrias, who gave me the buttons they use, the lyres they put on the collar, from their normal uniforms so that the result is as accurate as possible,” Konstantina says.
On social media, one can find her creations on the @playmocorfu page. Everything new she makes is there. At the same time, the messages she receives from the world are more than encouraging.
“What I like the most is that old musicians, who used to be in Corfu and may now be in Athens, in Thessaloniki or abroad, send me messages saying that what I do reminds them of their childhood,” she says.
Konstantina explains that a very large percentage of the people of Corfu have gone through the philharmonics.
“Playmobile is a toy and we all knew about it as children. So they also combine it with their childhood years when they went to the philharmonic. It creates a strange nostalgia for them and I see a great response to my creations,” Konstantina adds.
Now Konstantina’s eldest son, at five years old, is her best assistant. “Mommy bring a hat, mommy bring a button, mommy let’s go to parade,” he calls out to her.
She says: “I say I have 3 kids, a pharmacy, and around 1000 playmobiles.”