Matina Agio is a Greek-Canadian personal inheritance consultant.
She has been involved with her heritage since childhood. Both her parents had a strong appreciation for Hellenic culture and values. Her father was a banker, earlier Greek-resistance fighter and advocate of Stoic philosophy. Her mother, a Swiss-trained artist was a characteristic aesthete & avid collector.
In 1968, Matina became a child of the Greek Diaspora, unexpectedly, when her parents escaped from Athens to Montreal, due to a dictatorship- taking hardly any belongings with them.
Plunged into a new environment, her cultural heritage quickly became an important pillar of her identity, creativity and strength.
Matina went on to study business, fashion and interior design in Montreal, Paris and London. By the age of twenty-four, she was ambitiously running her own small property enterprise, in heritage management, renovating and designing traditional homes for resale, on the Greek islands.
In the 90’s she moved to the Künstlerdorf Worpswede, Germany. She became a founding member of the Neu- Bauhütte Initiative, a revival initiative, bridging contemporary architecture with antique architectural practices, including Topotherapy- the Western equivalent to Feng Shui.
The experience, gave shape to a collaborative experimental renovation project of an abandoned traditional settlement, overlooking the Aegean Sea. For several years, she spent extended periods of the year there, balancing a life of voluntary simplicity -off the grid, with her life in Germany and serving clients in Europe and the US.
Her book HOUSE OF HARMONY - The Philosophy of Home Living, (Kedros 2003) became a national best-seller in Greece.
In 2009, at the dawn of the Greek Economic Crisis, I experienced a major turning point in my life. Both my parents passed away in a period of 60 days. I co-inherited a historic residence in Athens, with no extra funds and a big, cluttered mess.
A 'great de-clutter odyssey' followed, where she had to navigate her boat, through the devastated economic waters of Greece, to save her finances, the family's residence and its collection. To sell all things -and be free of the matter, was out of the question. Real estate had just plunged. So there was only one way to go- she had to sail straight through it.
With the support of her daughter and her sister Alkistis, Matina archived and sorted out the family heirlooms & valuable artefacts in the home. Then, she managed the renovation of the residence and curated its collection- which included Hellenic antiquities, Byzantine art and Coptic textiles, Orientalist paintings, original works by Lord Byron and many other artefacts. Today this is known as the Agio Collection.
The most challenging part for me, was to make sense of it all- to join together the pieces of our family story. When the inheritance incident took place, I was just uneasily entering my mid-life, where issues of my own mortality came to surface...
This process, of inner and outer sorting took several years. Through it, Matina discovered that inheritance is a “continuous ongoing experience of receiving” - not something that is given all at once. This is what she calls the “inheritance flame” a dynamic, creative fluid essence, containing many intangible treasures from our ancestors and cultural heritage, which we can all tap into at any moment in our lives.
Your inheritance is as small or as large as you want it to be. You can feel very poor in saying that you received nothing but pain - or feel very rich and say "I took the challenge and transformed my pain into giving".
She spent the next ten years, tapping into her inheritance flame, initiating the Athenian Muse, a culture-based creative agency in Athens, specializing in Hellenic heritage. Many of the projects were ideas inspired by her parents’ unique and often turbulent life. One of her characteristic projects is the Historic Greek Gastronomy Project, noted for its gourmet, state-of-the-art approach to Ancient Greek & Byzantine food. Other projects include the Stylish Stoic Designer Collection.
Matina’s passion for heritage, has involved her in various crowdfunding cultural preservation projects, as the Nouveau Musée des Tissus et des Arts Décoratifs in Lyon, the 13th century Château de la Mothe-Chandeniers in the Loire, Grand Salon a Vaux le Viconte, Théâtre le Ranelaghand in Paris and other international heritage preservation projects, where she is active or part owner.
However, in early 2020, during the 1st pandemic lockdown, Matina experienced a re-occurring dream, which threw her off course...
The Ancient Greek goddess Hestia appeared, showing me her a beautiful chest embedded with gems with her ancestors depicted upon it. The goddess told me, “You have opened your chest, but now it is time to help others open theirs”.
To be true to tradition,
you need to be true to its flame, not its ashes.
-Jean Jaurès (1859-1914)
All rights reserved 2021. Matina Agio