Marie Blanche Library was founded by the non-profit organization AINOS Cultural Society and operates as a community library under the auspices of the borough council of Rafina-Pikermi in collaboration with the municipal library. It is led by a board of six members and cooperates with Greek and international cultural and educational institutions.
The core of its collection was donated by the family of Marie Blanche Sarika, after whom it is named. Marie Blanche was a person of letters whose broad horizons are reflected in her personal library. Her collection was enriched with donations by academics, researchers, and bibliophiles, among whom, David Turner, Evgenia Drakopoulou, Jan Sanders, Paschalis Kitromelides, Louka Katseli, etc.
The Marie Blanche Library is endowed with a number of valuable bindings restored with the support of Athanasios Martinos and the Aigeas non-profit organization. It contains books in English, French, German, Italian and, of course, Greek.
The aim of the library since its inception, following the wildfires of Mati and Neos Voutzas in 2018, has been to provide a meeting place and engender a sense of community and purpose for the locals but also to stage activities with a wider impact. Towards this end the library has collaborated with the American College of Greece, municipal cultural organisations and currently it develops a collaboration with French societies and institutions, aiming to provide a platform for the promotion of the francophonie in Greece.
In the academic year 2021-2022 the library organizes a series of weekly lectures followed by a live discussion, which are hosted on the zoom platform due to the Covid-19 circumstances. The series on “the Sacred in Art”, with the participation of pioneer modern Greek artists with an international profile, as well as “The Book as Text and Object”, which explores various aspects of the history of the book, its material structure and decoration, have been sponsored by the Public Benefit Foundation for Social and Cultural Work (KIKPE) and can be found in our ‘previous events’ section.
The “Lectures of the Foyer” constitute a distinct series sponsored by the District of Attica and present aspects of history, architecture, theatre, and dance, aiming to promote the dialogue between researchers, artists, and the educated public.
The Ainos Cultural Society was founded by Dr Niki Tsironi and Veronique Magnes, together with John Leatham and George Mitropoulos, in 1999 in Athens, as a continuation of the Patristic and Byzantine Society of the University of Oxford. The aim of Ainos is to promote culture, the arts, history, philosophy and their interaction with contemporary society through seminars, conferences, exhibitions, cultural trips and audiovisual productions (documentaries and video art).
Ainos wishes to contribute to the dissemination of knowledge and culture, with particular emphasis on the study of ancient and medieval texts, as well as the relevance of the dialectical relationship between history and modern life. Ainos has collaborated and is associated with various Greek and international organizations and universities: the National Hellenic Research Foundation in Athens, Center for Hellenic Studies – Harvard University, Washington DC, Oxford University, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, Canada, the Pierre Belon Association, Maison des Sciences de l ‘Homme, Paris, France, etc.
Since 2018, the Ainos Cultural Society has administered the Marie Blanche Library in collaboration with the borough council of Rafina – Pikermi and the support of the Public Benefit Foundation of Social and Cultural Work (KIKPE) and the District Authority of Attica (Perifereia Attikis). The valuable books of the collection of the Marie Blanche Library have been conserved or restored with the generous support of Athanasios Martinos and the Aigeas Non-Profit Society.
Dr Niki Tsironi is a historian – Byzantinist. Since 1998 she has been with the Institute for Historical Research of the National Hellenic Research Foundation (NHRF). She holds a PhD from King’s College, University of London, and since 2013 she has been Associate Researcher at Harvard University, Washington DC. Since 2016 she has been an Adjunct Professor in Byzantine Studies – Simon Fraser University, Vancouver CA. She is a founding member of the AINOS Cultural Society and of the Marie Blanche Library. Her research focuses on literature and performance in Late Antiquity and Byzantium, the cult of the Virgin, the history of the book in Byzantine and Post-Byzantine era and the research of emotions and cognitive models.
Since the 1990s she has been organizing various cultural activities, including exhibitions, seminars, and cultural trips, as well as research projects promoting the connection of academic research with modern society.
She has published numerous articles and books, among which:
Editor of the volume Lament as Performance in Byzantium, Routledge (to appear in 2022)
Editor of the volume Le livre : texte, image, objet, Association Pierre Belon, Fondation Maison des Sciences de l’Homme, Études Balkaniques 2020/1 (no 24), Paris https://www.cairn.info/
Editor of the volume From the Codex to the Digital Documentation, National Hellenic Research Foundation, Athens 2021
Editor of the volume The Book in Byzantium: Byzantine and Post-Byzantine Bookbinding, Athens 2008
Editor with Basil Atsalos of the three volumes, Proceedings of the VIth Colloquium on Greek Paleography, Athens 2008
“Reconstructing Byzantine Bookbinding through Images and Οbjects”, in Liz James and Anthony Eastmond (eds.), Wonderful Things, Ashgate, 2012, 71-78
“The Body and the Senses in the Work of Cassia the Hymnographer: Literary Trends in the Iconoclastic Period”, Symmeikta 16, Institute for Byzantine Research, Athens 2004, 139-157
Véronique Clémence Magnes is a video artist and photographer who specializes in the exposition of historical collections and the documentation of academic research relating to cultural history.
She was born in France, in Brive la Gaillarde. She studied professional photography at the Academy of Limoges, Orthodox philosophy and theology at the Institut St Serge in Paris and obtained a Higher National Diploma from the London College of Printing and Communication on the history and conservation of the book, specializing in design and modern media.
She has firsthand experience with setting up exhibitions in Athens, London, Oxford and Paris and has worked for ten years at the Byzantine Museum in Athens, where she created the video department for the purposes of promoting the Museum. She is familiar with best practices for the handling of traditional and modern media and has developed skills in the collection and enhancement of archival material in digitized form. She is co-founder of the Cultural Society AINOS, founder of the design company IMAGO-MAGNES FR and she is also responsible and conservation advisor for the luxurious collection of the Marie Blanche library.
« Aenigma, Art of Bookbinding » https://youtu.be/pkUOwEB-Fqo
«Gregory Nagy – Peter Stein, a Dialogue» https://youtu.be/VepRguIL4pc
«Official Opening of the Marie Blanche Library» https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LUva9VE2kUU
«Κυκλάδες : Παναγία η Μυριώνυμος – Cyclades : La Vierge aux mille noms» https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dDZ1R96G-sU&t=208s