The Headquarters of 1940 (WW II) in Kalpaki cave

“The General Staff in Athens ordered the commanding officer of the Eighth Division, Major General Haralabos Katsimitros to put into practice a scheme and withdraw to the low flow of the Arahthos River. He did NOT follow the order taking full responsibility for it. He did not abandon Epirus, for together with the Artillery Colonel Panagiotis Mavrogiannis, the chief of staff Lieutenant Colonel Harilaos Drivas and other officers had been preparing Epirus’ defense for eight years, even before the war and at a more intensive rate from April 1939 and onwards, assisted by volunteer inhabitants of the frontier area.

The General Staff of the Eighth Division was transferred to Kalpaki. We stand at the entrance of this cave shaped like a horseshoe made by our soldiers. It was about 34 m in length and no more than 2 m in breadth. This artificial cave is located 33 km north of Ioannina. The historic Kalpaki (ancient “Elaia”) was the place where those battles of decisive importance took place in November of 1940.

My intention is to place the visitors (subject) in the object (the cave) leading to the composition itself. I want them to feel this historical place which I copied and attributed at a 1:1 scale –except for the height which reaches up to 2.10 m for obvious reasons. I studied the cave itself, the place the General Staff dug to be accommodated and the surrounding area before I took photos of them. I took samples of the rocks of the area so as to know the hues I should use. I designed several details but, due to the peculiarity of my place, I couldn’t attribute them all.

Both the cave and the central theme are made from cement grit on the right and left covering the brick wall. While fresh, I carved it to achieve the desirable shape, working the surfaces as they should be. The ceiling, which gave me a rough time, was made with wooden and paper moulds and, on top of the cement, sand and grit. My intention was to show the existence of stiff rocks in the area. These materials enable me to render the uneven surfaces of the real place by reproducing the diggings as they are today. Then I go on with the coloring, and render the appropriate to the theme atmosphere.

Walking on the horseshoe-shaped corridor before reaching the exit, we find ourselves in a square ‘hewed’ room with dimensions 2.40×2.60m and 2.10 in height. In this small enclosed place with no windows I placed Haralabos Katsimitros in the middle, Panagiotis Mavrogiannis on the right and Harilaos Drivas on the left in conference. These three men were the protagonists of this victory. The anonymous soldier is their guard.

When we get out of the depressing atmosphere of this cave, we will gaze out over the heroic mountains of Pindos.”