Sorry, I didn’t mean to be silent for so long, after packing up ‘Painting Skiathos’ for another year and returning to London, I immediately contracted the dreaded ‘Australian ‘flu! I guess, with the air being so much purer on the island, these days, whenever I return to this thriving metropolis…I get sick! Happens every time. When you consider how many millions of people are crammed into this city, living and working side by side and all the accompanying germs, well, it’s hardly surprising I suppose! Happy to report I’m as fit as a fiddle once again. Wish I could say the same about my computer though (why does every thing go wrong at once?) I’ve been struggling along on an old lap top that just wouldn’t let me upload files or photos. Very frustrating! Any way, at long last, here I am.
Skiathos, when I left a couple of weeks ago, had certainly slowed down; beaches were deserted, tavernas empty and shops closed up for the season.
and the Skiathites, tired from the frenzied pace of the summer, were winding down and re-claiming the island as their own once again. It’s actually a lovely time to be on the island. The leaves were turning from green to gold, the skies clouded over and the smell of wood smoke was beginning to fill the air.
Richard Buchanan -Dunlop, artist, poet and probably the longest ex pat resident on the island captures this time of year perfectly in his poem ‘Troulos’. This, the final verse, is taken from his ‘Skiathos and other Poems’ anthology:
“At Troulos in the autumn time a gentle peace returns again
The withered grass and weary pines recover in welcome rain
The small taverna once more closed sits in a state of silent dread
Waiting for the lonely solitude the cold damp days that lie ahead
Summer debris lies around left for the wind and sea to clear
And Troulos sleeps the winter out whilst waiting for another year”
Sadly this book is now out of print but a new one, with his latest works and illustrated with many of his own paintings, is in the pipeline. I was fortunate enough to visit him in his studio, when he asked if I would photograph them in preparation for their publication, and I was surprised to discover what a prolific painter he is. There were literally hundreds canvasses, each bearing his trademark colourful, vibrant style ( a true reflection of his own profound, many-faceted, fascinating personality) everywhere!
There’s nothing that makes being an artist more worthwhile (for me anyway!) than seeing one of my paintings going to a home where I know it is appreciated and will be treasured. My dear friend Matt (from the Loulou and the Dolpins Antiques gallery) and his friend, Kees, paid me a visit in the studio earlier, in the summer. I had just finished an oil painting of the olive tree that’s visible through the studio window. They didn’t stay very long and it was only when Matt called me a few hours later, to tell me how Kees had been waxing lyrical about the ‘Olive Tree’ ever since they returned home, that I had any indication he was even interested in it! With Kees’ Birthday coming up in September, Matt wanted to buy it as a surprise for him. I was leaving for London the next day and had planned to add it to the exhibition (running on the Bourtzi throughout the summer). He instructed me to go ahead and display it publically anyway but to make sure there was a (sold) red sticker on it – and I wasn’t to breathe a word to anyone, as it was to be a surprise.
Apparently, in my absence, Kees had visited the exhibition and was distraught to find the painting ‘sold’, wishing he’s seized the chance to buy it himself when he first saw it! Several times he went back, to show friends, kicking himself every time!
When September arrived and I was back in Skiathos, I was invited to Kees’ birthday dinner. I took the painting earlier in the day, secreting it in the kitchen – so when I arrived at 8.00pm with only a ‘bottle’ and card, the deception was complete. When the moment arrived for Kees to open his gifts he’d clearly absolutely no idea what was wrapped in the large package. As the realisation dawned, incredulity was written all over his face (not only at receiving the painting he’d loved but that Matt had been able to keep it a secret for so long!). I was just delighted to be on hand to witness his amazement and to capture that very special moment on film. Take a look – the photos speak for themselves: