Sebastian Boulter






January 2019





The banks of the river Ilisos were systematically exploited by the Municipality of Athens from the 19th c. until 1920’s, as a source for sand and gravel, used to build the roads of the capital. Thus, following the growth of the population in the capital and the urgent need for more space in the urban environment, the part of the river up to the Panathenaic stadium was buried between 1939-1948; a decision made by dictator Ioannis Metaxas, with the legendary expression: "Today we bury Ilisos".



  • Sebastian Boulter was chosen to a group exhibition Athens Under the Microscope in FokiaNou Art Space with his charcoal drawing on paper Today We Bury Ilisos. The exhibition took place on the 16th - 31st of January 2019. In addition to this, he also was invited by Mary Cox and Panagiotis Voulgaris, the directors of FokiaNou Art Space, to hold a wider collection of his drawings in FokiaNou Art Space in May 2019. Boulter’s series of drawings of the river Ilisos is a research of this hidden river in Athens, which has been covered since the beginning of the 20th century. Nowadays it runs from Kaisariani to Kallithea, 7 km underground through the city centre. Since February 2018 Boulter has been drawing the up- and down reaches of the river. In July he explored the river by walking through the tunnel, making photos of it, but also having intimidating, fascinating and touching experience of rather dangerous journey. Throughout the documentation and the experience, he continued the drawings of the river from inside the tunnel.


  • The sculpture of the Semi-God Ilisos of the river is depicted by Phidias in the western pediment of the Parthenon on the Acropolis. Socrates and Phaedrus discussed the philosophy of soul and love on the riverbank of Ilisos. The Athenians got their drinking water from that river long ago. Today, in the rainy season, it runs 7km under the ground. On dry seasons the tunnel is walkable from the other outskirt of the city to the other one in few hours, but it is NOT recommendable, and anyhow strictly forbidden.




 2018 Drawings 4Pet Semetery 110x150 charcoal on paper 2018


Up reach of the river Ilisos in Kaisariani  

Today We Bury Ilisos, 110x150, charcoal on paper, 2018





May 2019 




In May 2018 the tunnel collapsed at a parking lot next to Tauros metro station. On October the same year the tram line from Syntagma until Sygrou Fix was closed because the constant rumble of thousands of trams had caused structural damage to the tunnelbelow the tracks. "We are suggesting that the tunnel should not be prepared. Instead, we would uncover the river and create a pathway that would lead from the Acropolis to the Museum of Modern Art, right through the heart of the city," said Katerina Christoforaki, an urban planner who is behind the proposed scheme. Instead of repairing the tunnel, the tram line is planned to be diverted along a different route.




Let us turn aside here and go along the Ilisos; then we can sit down quietly wherever we please.



I am fortunate, it seems, in being barefoot; you are so always. It is easiest then for us to go along the brook with our feet in the water, and it is not unpleasant, especially at this time of the year and the day.



Lead on then, and look out for a good place where we may sit.



Do you see that very tall plane tree?



What of it?



There is shade there and a moderate breeze and grass to sit on, or, if we like, to lie down on.



Lead the way. 


Plato, Phaedrus, 229a-229d, Plato in Twelve Volumes, Vol. 9 translated by Harold N. Fowler. Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann Ltd. 1925. 




Lead the Way Invitation


Poster of the exhibition. The drawing is depicting one of the sources of Ilisos inside the tunnel. 

Shine, 56x76cm, charcoal on paper, 2019





February 2020





From the pitch-black environment Sebastian Boulter digs out with charcoal the little light that can be imagined in the tunnel. There are penetrating roots appearing through the ceiling and collapsed sections of the roof, the floor and the walls. It is possible to discover sources, drainage pipes, Eridanos meeting Ilisos, rats and hundreds of cockroaches. The visual language of the works tends to diverge from realism to the world of imagination and illusion that cannot be avoided in the dim tunnel.




2020 Threshold I 50x42 charcoal on paper 2020 EdgeFix


Threshold I, 50x42cm, charcoal on paper, 2020 



New series of works of the tunnel of the river Ilisos was presented in an exhibition This Side 7.2. – 27.2.2020 in Chili Art Gallery, Athens. After the exhibition Covid-19 arrived to Greece and no galleries were officially open in Athens until May 2021.





September 2020








eridanos news


Sketches from the site of Kerameikos and the Mount Lycabettus in Athens



For the working period in September 2020 at Kerameikos in Athens, Boulter had one-month scholarship from the Finnish Cultural Foundation. During this period Boulter made sketches in the Kerameikos site and he also followed the fragments of the canalization of the ancient river Eridanos until the Mount Lycabettus. Beside the archaeological site of Kerameikos the river has been rediscovered in 1990's with the excavations for the construction of the Athens metro in Syntagma and Monastiraki stations.





November 2020 


Downtown Athens’ Syntagma Square is being reconnected to the tram service after a two-year hiatus after a stretch of the track from the city center to the suburb of Neos Cosmos was closed.

In an announcement on Friday, the Transport Ministry confirmed that tests were successful on the stretch between Syntagma and Kasomouli Street in Neos Cosmos – which includes key stops like Vouliagmenis and Fix – and the tram is ready to resume operation. This section of the tram runs above the bed of the dried-out Ilissos River and was closed in 2018 over concerns about possible sinkholes beneath the tracks. Work has since been carried out to strengthen the stretch.