The home of ‘Painting Skiathos’:
photo © Panagiotis Kounoupas http://www.photoactive.gr
Villa Nicara has been our much-loved family summer home for over 35 years. It is a simple but beautiful, traditional, white-washed villa, with old stone floors (from Pelion), heavy wooden shutters and a traditional island interior. It nestles in its own extensive, well-maintained, mature walled gardens and olive grove.
photo © Panagiotis Kounoupas http://www.photoactive.gr
The House was originally built in the early ’60’s by Jack and Nancy Causton, one of the first ex. pat. couples to settle on the island, in the days when all building materials were brought by caique from the mainland and then carried on the backs of mules along the narrow donkey tracks (there were no roads then!) to the site.
Villa Nicara (formerly Villa Kolios) circa 1970
Today the property is less exposed, secluded as it is by the now mature gardens and tucked away behind high white and old stone walls:
Nancy herself was an artist. She painted many beautiful watercolours of the wild flowers indigenous to the island:
Her light touch, perfect detail and accuracy isn’t done justice here, on screen
but the veins on every leaf and fine hairs on every stem as well, as the vibrant colours, are as fresh today as they were when she painted them over fifty years ago.
Most collectible today are her beautiful pictoral maps of Skiathos, all hand-painted and embellished with her trademark flowers:
Many of these still hang in the original villas and hotels built around that time (early 60’s). I like to think that she’s looking down on us with approval and is delighted to know that today her house is shared with artists from all over world and that they continue to enjoy the beautiful gardens she laid out so lovingly all those years ago.
When my family acquired the house, in the mid ’70’s, Skiathos was much quieter and less developed – the full impact of mass tourism had yet to descend on the island – and from Villa Nicara (or ‘Villa Kolios’ as it was previously known) not a single other building could be seen! It took 8 years for the telegraph poles to reach us before a ‘phone could be installed!
For more than 28 years it was my retired parents permanent home. Today, having been recently updated, Villa Nicara, despite the development that has sprung up in all directions around us, remains a peaceful haven. Upon entering and closing the high gates , a timeless sense of peace, calm and privacy, just as yesteryear, prevails.
External stairs lead to the roof terrace of the main house, with it’s far reaching view across the sea to the distant hills of Evia and the mainland:
and the gardens, pool area and art studio below:
THE ART STUDIO:
Housed in the original building on the land, a shepherd’s cottage or ‘Kalivi, used for many years as a wood store, it is now a charming work space, light and airy and a perfect space for art classes, both inside:
and out, in the cool dappled shade, under the sprawling branches of a huge pine tree:
housed in yet another original kalivi, in the olive grove
All ‘Painting Skiathos’ visitors have unrestricted use of the villa’s grounds inluding:
THE SWIMMING POOL and BARBEQUE area:
There are plenty of hidden, shaded corners, ideal for reading or just quiet contemplation and total relaxation:
Extensive mature gardens, on several different levels, surround the villa on all sides. Old stone walls and walkways are softened by ancient oil jars filled with tumbling geraniums:
The gardens are well-stocked with a large variety of mature trees:
acacia, almond, lemon, eucalyptus, evia oak, plane, koumara, pine silver birch, apple, olive and palm. There’s even one surviving ‘orchid tree’ brought from South Africa and planted by Nancy all those years ago. Usually growing to bush height, this one towers over 25 ft and has the most beautiful, exotic flowers each spring. Flowering shrubs include oleander (pink and white) buddleia, camelia, angelica, pyracantha, bottlebrush, hibiscus and bamboo. There are plenty of climbers too: white jasmine, blue plumbago, honeysuckle, orange campanula and hot pink and purple bougainvillea:
as well as fragrant climbing roses.
Everywhere, throughout the year there are flowers in abundance in mostly informal flower beds but most notably in the spring, when carpets of wildflowers run riot in the un-manicured grassy ‘lawns’ areas.
The wild and wonderful OLIVE GROVE with its ancient gnarled trees and gently swaying silver-leafed branches:
Villa Nicara is a happy place, filled as it is with years of happy memories. It’s a place that welcomes you in, wraps itself around you and makes you feel instantly at home. It is neither pretentious or ‘precious’ (except to me and my family of course!) because the simple way of life it affords allows everyone who visits to explore their natural creativity in a calm, relaxing way. It is wonderfully inspiring and provides an atmosphere of peace, calm and timelessness and an opportunity to be totally at one with the natural beauty that surrounds it.
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This is absolutely beautiful. What a transformation! I love the pool area – you have been busy – just goes to show all the thinking time paid off! Well done – you’re as tallented an interior designer as you are painter and writer – there’s no end to your tallents!
It’ll be waiting for you….(and you’ll get in pool this time!)xx
hi we are over in skiathos july 16 can we call in to see your work . thank you
Hi Paul, Of course! I’d be delighted….(I’ve sent you an email)
thank you for this wonderful website and so many lovely inspiring pics of your place and surroundings..
it seems that everything you touch turns to beauty…this is a wonderful gift
Thank you so much, Brigitte – I hope to share it with you this summer!
I holidayed in Skiathos May/June 08 and saw you in the airport talking about your art holidays.
I love this website. I think everything about it is fantastic. I love your blog. We have been coming to SKiathos for the last 5 years and love the place. We stay at Esperides in Achiladies. We have a small daughter so would probably ruin your tranquil setting! But my husband and I are already planning our holidays with you for the future when we can holiday alone!!!
Your work is stunning, just like Skiathos.
Thank you SO much for all your lovely comments, Nicola! I have sent you an email – Best wishes
hi we will be coming to skathos from athens on the 12th of july
with a group of kids
do you do a short workshop
on either pottery or painting that i can bring the children to
and if so
what is the cost for a group
Yes indeed, kids are especially welcome. I cannot offer pottery at present but would be happy to give a painting workshop – I will email you directly. Thanks so much for getting in touch – Yvonne