Skiathos has become a hive of frenzied activity! This is the time of year, after the long dark sleep of winter, when the island wakes up, stretches, yawns, shakes off the last of the lazy, leisurely days of peaceful inactivity and suddenly springs into action.
All over the island preparations are underway, making ready for the next wave of seasonal visitors who will soon be arriving by the plane and ferry load to enjoy the sun, sandy beaches, tavernas, shops, nightlife and all the wonderful things Skiathos has to offer its tourists. Newly-painted boats are coming out of dry dock and returning to the old port where fishermen have begun mending their nets:
Around the clock there’s a distinctive buzz in the air; in the more rural areas, the sound of spring is no longer synonymous with birdsong but with chain-saws, grass strimmers and cement mixers as land is cleared, meadows mowed, apartments and villas built or spruced-up and trees lopped all along the newly-widened and re-surfaced main road.
In Skiathos town itself on every street corner, all around the port and up and down Papadiamantis Street (Skiathos’ main street which is becomes pedestrian-only during the peak season, lined as it is with fashionable boutiques, café’s, bars and souvenir shops) metal shutters are being rolled up to let the light flood in along with teams of shopfitters armed with hammers, drills, ladders and paint pots.
Just about everyone one meets hurries about their business in their muddy boots and paint spattered work clothes with barely time for a hasty hello and grimy handshake let alone a leisurely coffee. With chairs stacked and cushions, newly out of storage, piled high and airing in the sunshine, there’s no chance of idling away the hours on the Paralia now!
No, everyone is busy, busy, busy! From the moment the early morning ferry steams into port and in the ensuing confusion, hustle and bustle, spills her cargo onto the quay-side, till the end of the day when the last heavily-laden transport lorries make their final delivery-runs of the day, its just go, go, go! Every day building materials, trees and pot plants for landscaping, furniture, electrical goods and hundreds of cartons of stock for the retailers and supermarkets arrive and newly-painted shelves are stacked.
The energy and excitement in the air is almost palpable and certainly infectious and as almost every shopfront and interior undergoes its annual face-lift, its an inspiring time for me as an artist too; I’m always amazed at the sheer amount of artistic talent and inventiveness there is on this tiny island and the degree of original design and thought that goes into transforming even the humblest cafe and store!
FEATURE: GALLERY MIU
One place that really caught my attention this week is a new internet/art café called ‘GALLERY MIU’ is situated on the new port side of the town. Its unique, eclectic interior is a riot of pattern, colour and such bold, innovative design one would expect to find in only the trendiest hot spot of a major European city. That its here on this relatively small and remote island is thanks to the amazing talents of its delightful proprietors, local artist Maria Skapinaki and her husband Spiros Gasteratos. They have decorated it floor to ceiling with hand made wall-papers that they designed, printed and applied themselves to every available surface. Here is a just a few examples of their work on display:
(NB All designs are © Maria Skapinaki and may not be copied or reproduced in any form without her prior permission)
Its hard to categorise the ‘look’ into any particular genre; there are obvious influences of ‘retro’, pokamon, op-art and the black and white geometric patterns that I can only liken to (with apologies!) the optical effects of a migraine yet, amazingly, the visual overload is so perfectly balanced that whole look actually WORKS! It ties together wonderfully to provide a totally unique, atmospheric and unexpectedly, relaxing space – it is truly a vision to behold.
Maria even designed the furniture herself, covering table-tops, chairs and lamps with her unique and trade-mark ‘animal print’ designs, in a whole spectrum of vibrant colours.
The lower level, accessed directly from the sea front, houses the well-equipped internet cafe complete with welcoming bar and cafe area. Upstairs, the gallery (accessed from the narrow street that runs directly behind the Alpha Bank) has a fabulous panoramic view over the waterfront marina and across to Pounta and Skopleos beyond. There is a relaxing lounge area, bar and pool table – all perfect for ‘chilling out’.
GALLERY MIU is also available for hire as a venue for private functions; parties, weddings, etc and as an exciting exhibition space.
For further details, Maria and Spiros can be contacted directly on +30 24270 22991 or + 30 693 719512
This is one place that is definitely worth a visit!