Where has the year gone? Last time I looked it was the beginning of June or something…..Well, that’s what comes of keeping your head down and keeping busy, busy, busy, I guess!
I returned to the island at the end of August to find the summer circus in full swing; crowds, noise and, with virtually no rain all year, everything was dusty, brown and dry. Heaving with tourists, crowded beaches, full tavernas and bars and even fabulous yachts of the rich and famous (rumor has it these shores have been graced with the likes of Madonna, Bruce Willis, Mr Abramovitch et al) Skiathos, once again, has played host to them all. Even a couple of ‘princely’ brothers, who (apparently) booked the whole local cinema for an evening’s private viewing of ‘Mamma Mia’ the movie, which has been showing to packed houses, non-stop throught the season.
Here we are at the start of September and with plane-loads and full-to-capacity ferries leaving every day, gradually the island is returning to it’s leisurely pace….the evenings are cooler and the crowds are thinning out. Phase 1 of the build is complete, the builders have left the site, ‘normality’ has for the moment returned and peace reigns once again – Lovely!
That said, I woke up a couple of mornings ago to the mother of all electrical storms. It circled the island for hours. Gale-force winds, ominously dark skies then huge claps of thunder, quickly followed by sheets of lightning galloping across and dramatically illuminating the valley below. Then followed a 2-day torrential down pour! Despite the resultant flooding (roads blocked, stream beds bursting their banks) it couldn’t have been more welcome for Skiathos had become seriously short of water with many springs and bore-holes and wells, all but drying up. In an instant the island turned fresh, lush and green once more. I did feel for the holiday-makers though, who were expecting to stretch out on a sun-bed on arrival. Unless you’re adventurous and can make the best of the opportunity to don walking shoes and a kagoul and explore the island, it must be pretty miserable cooped up in a studio apartment, praying for some sun. I have to say, I didn’t mind it one bit. I even took all the newly sprung leaks in my stride until the final straw – when I entered the art studio; everything, canvasses, paintings, sketchpads etc, was floating about in half a meter of brown muddy water! I’d forseen the likelihood of this happening, when I noticed the newly-laid path to the front door was sloping down towards it and I had expressly asked that a storm drain be installed in my absence. Was it done? NO! And the builder, who has his mobile phone permanently attached to his ear, mysteriously couldn’t be reached – he’d ‘conveniently’ disappeared off the planet! I spent several hours baling-out but thankfully there wasn’t too much permanent damage….
ART EXHIBITION 2008
The end of August brought the Annual Skiathos Art Exhibition to a close. It really has been a great success; not just in terms of over-all sales but, more importantly, by the sheer volume of visitors (a record 15,000 this year!!) and, judging by the many glowing and wonderful comments written in the guest book, it was much enjoyed and well-received by all.
Skiathos, and the rest of the Sporades, is fast becoming recognised for its vibrant art community which is clearly growing from strength to strength every year.
NEXT ART EXHIBITION – AT EVANGELISTRIA MONASTERY, SEPTEMBER 13TH & 14TH
Another of Skiathos’ claim to fame is the birth (and the raising) of the National flag for the very first time, following Greece’s War of Independence. It took place at the Evangelistria Monastery on Skiathos and every year, in September, celebrations are held there to commemorate this special event.
This year, to mark the occasion, seven UNESCO ARTISTS (yours truly among them) have been invited to exhibit art work relevant to the occasion. It promises to be a memorable event and a Unesco delegation from Athens will be joining us for the first time. All sorts of religious services and festivities are planned and I’m really excited about it – I only hope I can finish my paintings in time!
I’ve been completely inspired by a new artist/illustrator/set & costume designer from the mainland, DIMITRA LAMBRETSA, whose lastest collection is currently on show at the Archipelagos Gallery. Not only does her work, depicting glimpses of life ‘back stage’ at the theatre, resonate with my own backgound (enough for me to have purchased a painting myself!) but I came to know what a lovely person she is when she came and spent the day at my studio. You can see her work HERE
Dimitra’s talents are manyfold. Above she is standing next to her pencil drawing of a prehistoric Mastodon (mammut Borsoni), commissioned for a archaeological & paleantology project by the Aristotle University in Thessaloniki (in collaboration with a research team from the Rotterdam Museum), who made history when they unearthed its skeleton at Milia, Greece. You can read more about their exciting find and the whole project, HERE
Getting to meet so many fellow artists who are so generous with their time and talents is proving to be one of the best things about this whole venture!
Regular readers of this blog will have heard me mention my dear friend and fellow-artist Despina. She is the king-pin without whom, with her tireless, selfless dedication, none of the events I write about would ever have taken place. I along with many others have much to thank her for – not least, in being such a good supportive friend so I want to thank her and feature her here. I doubt there is a single shop, restaurant or hotel on the island that hasn’t been touched my Despina’s magic paintbrush. Her work is everywhere! On facades, signs, billboards if anyone needs to find her, she’s generally to be found teetering at the top of a ladder somewhere – even in the heat of the midday sun! This year, as well as organising the art exhibitions, and countless local events, she also completed countless private commissions for murals and the one that delighted tourists the most (especially the children) was her work in Maria’s Pizza. You can see some of her work, the flowers that fill the stairwell, in this illustration I painted for Maria earlier in the year:
Every wall, window and balcony is filled with her magical creations; fairies, elves, scenes from every nursery rhyme and folk tale you can think of! Thank you Despina! For brightening up our lives and for your dedication to promoting the arts and Culture of Skiathos, you are a real jewel in Skiathos’ crown.
Here is a photo, taken this morning, showing Despina outside her latest creation at the new book store in Papadiamantis street:
Day’s are full at the moment. I’ve been organising a theatre workshop for the youngsters of Skiathos. I was contacted through this site by teacher of theatre and performing arts in Germany, who was keen to offer his expertise in a one-day workshop. The high-school principle Mr Leonidas, along with the president of the Municipal Culture Committee, Mr Sakis Zlatoudis and the Mayor, Mr Nikos Plomaritis, are all in favour, thrilled with this wonderful opportunity and have given us the green light. It will take place this Saturday, in the local high school and I’ll be going along to see the fun. I’ll take some photos too and post them on here. Hopefully this is the first of many such events.
PAINTING SKIATHOS HAS RESUMED…
… and I’ll be delighted to welcome back Irish artist Mary Dillon once again, in a couple of weeks. This time she’ll be bringing an artist friend too so exciting times, with lots of painting, lie ahead.
Sunny days have returned without the scorching heat of July and August and life on this enchanting little island is beginning to slow down….so if you’re tempted to join me here for an inspirational painting holiday and a little bit of sun, there’s still time but do contact me soon. Places are filling up and before you know it mid-October will be upon us and I’ll be packing up my brushes and paints, closing up the villa and heading for London………… till ‘Painting Skiathos’ resumes once again, next Spring.
If you’d prefer to wait till then, be sure to book well in advance as I’m already taking bookings for 2009, and if there is anything you’d like to see offered in the ‘workshops’, or If you are a tutor, in any creative discipline and would like to run a workshop yourself (or perhaps incorporate a day or two into your regular family holiday) just drop me a line – I’d love to hear from you.