In the village of Vavili (one of the villages of Kampos area, situated 9 km from Chios) lies one of the island’s most unexpected treasures—the minuscule chapel of the Ypapanti (the ‘Purification of the Virgin’). Its interior is entirely covered with murals, painted by Juliette May Fraser (1887–1983), a famous muralist from Honolulu, Hawaii.
The majority of Juliette May Fraser’s work has remained in the Hawaiian islands, where she was born and died. However, while working in Athens in the early 1960s, she met a gifted woman from Vavili village, Mrs Afroditi Makri, who invited her for a short vacation in Chios. During this trip, she was fascinated by Chios and this small newly built chapel and volunteered to paint these murals. She stayed in Chios during the winter period of 1962-1963 with her collaborator, the artist David Asherman. Under difficult circumstances, but with the help of Mrs Makri, of all the villagers and of the local artist Nikos Gialouris, they painted the murals of the chapel as a gift to the village.
The outside of the chapel is decorated with geometrical patterns recalling the distinctive exteriors of the houses in Pyrgi, while the interior decoration is created with the fresco technique. The scenes are a hybrid of eastern and western art, Byzantine and representational, modern and ancient, while the perspective comes and goes. They are a mix of local and Hawaiian topography and eternal landscapes. The whole is unified by an airiness and overall brilliance of colour, and is executed with such genuine joy, that takes the visitors by surprise, once they enter the door of the chapel. The frescoes are one of the best examples of the art of May Fraser and a touching evidence of her love for Chios island!
Tip: The key of the chapel is kept in the house opposite and slightly further north. Just knock, and the lady who lives there will gladly give it to you.