Sorry folks – I didn’t mean to be silent for so long…but then I never intended to fall flat on my face (twice!) either – and knock my 5th vertebrae out of alignment in the process!. Yes, I’ve been in … Continue reading
It was Mark Twain who said: “In the spring I have counted one hundred and thirty-six different kinds of weather inside of four and twenty hours.” Well, that’s certainly true of this year ! I have never known such changeable … Continue reading
Well, that’s it! The summer season in Skiathos is finally, officially, over for another year. It ended as the last charter plane, carrying the few remaining tourists took off into the clear blue sky this afternoon. Most businesses that hadn’t … Continue reading
So sorry not to be joining in the celebratons of this very special time on Skiathos but I’ve only just returned from Egypt, where I travelled high into the arid mountains of the Sinai Peninsula to visit the remotely-situated St. … Continue reading
T0day, Skiathos celebrated Greece’s Independence Day. A very brief history lesson : Being one of the holiest days in the Greek calendar, Orthodox Christians draw inspiration from the Annunciation of the Theotokos. It was on this day that Archangel Gabriel … Continue reading
Here I am, still in London and I’ve just heard I couldn’t have timed it better; it seems that the weather has been awful ever since I left – I must have taken the good weather with me!
Oh dear, with all the pre-Easter preparations well underway for the annual kite-flying and picnic on ‘Clean Monday’ and the colourful Carnival and parades the following week, I hope the weather forecast is more promising………..
So, here’s a little distraction to remind my friends on the island that spring and warm sunny days lie just ahead, and to remind me to hurry back (all the flowers on this video were blooming in the garden when I photographed them – just before I left):
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.
Gosh! WHAT a busy week!
“Navy Week” came to an end this evening with a wonderful buffet/reception held on the Bourtzi, and it closed with a spectacular firework display from the end of the ‘Dolphin’ Jetty, on the new port.
I was thrilled to accept an invitation from Mr Manolis Pantelakis,The Chief of the Port Authority and Mayor Nikolaos Plomaritis, to attend.
I must just remark on how dashing and smart all the naval officers (who attended with their wives) looked, in their pristine white naval uniforms (Oh be still my beating heart! Thought I was on the set of ‘An officer and a Gentleman’ for a second and half expected Richard Gere to appear and sweep me off my feet any moment – well, a girl can dream can’t she?…..Must have been the wine!)
I don’t have many photos of the week’s events (too tied up with the Art exhibition every evening, I’m afraid) but I did translate the programme of events into English for the organisers, so here is the diary of all that’s been happening on Skiathos, this past week:
SUNDAY 29 JUNE 2008
08:00 Official Opening Ceremony – with the raising of the National Flag
In the Submarine “KATSONIS” area.
11:00 Memorial Service – with boat–side ‘wreath-hurling’ into the sea
At the Statue of the Unknown Sailor
21:30 Choir Performance
At the Open-air theatre, “Bourtzi”.
MONDAY 30 JUNE 2008
20:00 Exhibitions Opening Ceremony – with a prologue by Anna Deliyanni,
At the Municipal Centre, “Bourtzi”
“Skiathos and the Sea”– a journey through Skiathos’ nautical history
(Opening daily for the duration of Navy Week, 19.00hrs – 22.00hrs)
“Colours of Skiathos 2008” – an Art Exhibition of works by local artists
(Opening daily until August 30, 19.00hrs – 22.00hrs)
Organized and presented by:
The Municipality of Skiathos
The Municipal Culture Development Branch
The Union of Retirees N.A.T. of Skiathos
TUESDAY 01 JULY 2008
20:30 Presentation – of traditional sailing boats.
21:00 Consecration of the Office of Retirees N.A.T. –
At the Skiathos Old Harbour – Psaradika Fish Restaurant.
WEDNSDAY 02 JULY 2008
19:00 “Deep Sea Clean-up” – of the Skiathos Harbour.
Community-conscious volunteers are invited to participate.
20:30 Free Sea Tour
At the South Harbour – Skiathos.
Sponsored by the Tourist Boat Union.
THURSDAY 03 JULY 2008
19:00 Aquatic First-Aid Demonstrations – by professional Life-savers
At the Bourtzi Swimming Area (below the Cafe).
Under the auspices of the Municipality of Skiathos
21:30 “Make a Wish” (Sea Lights).
FRIDAY 04 JULY 2008
20:00 Sea-sports Athletic Demonstration
At the Skiathos Harbour.
Presented by The Sea Sports Club and the Boat Rental
21:30 International Dance Festival
At the Open-Air Theatre, “Bourtzi”.
SATURDAY 05 JULY 2008
20:30 Free Sea Tour
Skiathos South Harbor.
Sponsored by the Union of Tourist Boats
21:30 Philharmonic Band – Music Festival
At the Open-Air Theatre, “Bourtzi”.
SUNDAY 06 JULY 2008
19:00 Swimming Matches – Municipal Athletic Swim Team of Skiathos.
21:00 Awards Ceremony – the presentation of medals and diplomas
At the Skiathos Municipal Council Hall, “Bourtzi”.
22:00 Official Reception
At the Open-Air Theatre, “Bourtzi”.
23:00 Fireworks Display
In the Skiathos Harbour area.
The Art Exhibition is proving to be a great success, with a steady stream of visitors – and many paintings sold already! If you visit, be sure to leave your comments in our ‘Visitors Book’ – your feedback is invaluable to us and we want to ensure that every year it gets better and better.
After tonight, things should be a little quieter as the island returns to normal. We had a spectacular electrical storm a couple of nights ago but only a light shower followed – not the heavy rain we all pray for (Skiathos badly needs it!) Not only is there a water shortage (and the season’s only just begun!) but the threat of fire is very real and we don’t want a repeat of the devastating fire that swept through Paraskevi Valley last year. It’s amazing how quickly the charred hills surrounding villa nicara have turned to green once again though it will be many years before the lush forests return, sadly.
After weeks of discussion and planning and a frantic few days of final preparation, The 2nd annual “Colours of Skiathos” Art Exhibition opened last night, with a wonderful, well-attended ceremony, presided over by the Mayor of Skiathos,Mr Nikolaos Plomaritis and other prominent local Municipal dignitaries.
It’s opening coincided with the start of ‘Navy week”; an annual festival that celebrates Skiathos’ long association with the sea; a week filled with nautical displays, official parades, commemorations, demonstrations, cultural events and general fun and frolics, all centred around the old port of Skiathos town. Fittingly, many of the art exhibits on show this year, carry a nautical theme.
The Mayor has kindly granted us permission to house a ‘permanent’ exhibition this time, inside the beautiful North Hall of the Bourtzi Cultural Centre and it will run for two whole months – until August 30th.
For the first time artists from other islands in the Northern Sporades (namely Skopelos and Alonnisos) have been invited to exhibit their work alongside the 40 or so local artists, thereby widening our our thriving creative community and strengthening the bond between us and the neighbouring islands.
We gained access to the hall only a few days before opening so getting everything ready on time required a mammoth effort on the part of a whole team of volounteers lead by the indefatigable Despina Mitselou. Time was of the essence and every detail had to be meticulously planned; carpenter Nikos worked like a Trojan to get all the wooden stands made (all 30 of them, according to Mary Dillons specifications; 2.25m high by 1.5m wide! ) and Costas Zembekis’ team rigged up a state of the art lighting system. We were also fortunate to have sponsors step in at the eleventh hour and they (Slip Inn, Casablanca, Infinity Blue restaurant, NVL and the Skiathos Palace hotel) provided invaluable financial and practical assistance.
Disaster almost struck when the hessian fabric (to cover the stands) we’d ordered from the mainland, failed to arrive on time. Then, just 48 hours before opening, I spotted a very comical but welcome sight; the local courier company’s tiny moped with 3 huge bales of fabric precariously balanced across the drivers foot-board, wobbling down hill, hot from the ferry port – and I knew all was not lost!
Here is the story in pictures and some of the artists with their work:
Thanks to the efforts of all involved, the exhibition (so far!) has proved a huge success and we hope to welcome many visitors throughout the summer.
Today is the Greek Orthodox Easter Sunday and, as I’m still in London, I’m so sorry not to be sharing it with all my dear friends In Skiathos. I’ve been watching events unfold on the live webcam but that’s no substitute for actually being there and witnessing the traditional festivities first-hand; following the processions, eating the ‘Avgolemono’ soup and sharing the traditional spit- roasted lamb feast & almond cakes – and making merry with the many families who are gathering together, all over the island, to celebrate this most important day in the Greek Orthodox calendar.
I’m anxious to hear how the Art exhibition went yesterday and see the photos taken on my behalf (I’ll be posting them on here for all to see as soon as I can).
So, sending Best Wishes to all my wonderful Skiathos friends, too numerous to mention all by name here but especially: Theo & Ireni Kandarakis, Despina Mtselou & Gail Stathakis (and all my fellow artists), Nikos Kondylis (my very patient builder), Elias Stamelos & Sam, Maria from ‘Maria’s Pizza’, Kostas & Giorgos from ‘Infinity Blue’ restaurant, Magda from ‘Alexandros’, Elizabeth and Steve from ‘Stathis Taverna’, Rosemary & George from ‘Varelli Taverna’, the Papas brothers from ”Victoria Cars’, all the girls in the ‘Saturday Morning Hiking’ group (you know who you are!) and last but not least, my wonderful friends & neighbours; Geoff & Lida from ‘Zorbades’, Geoff H, Richard R, Matt & Keys and Maggie & Ken.
‘Ευτυχές Πάσχα!’ ‘Happy Easter’ to all! and see you soon!
I got through the most frustrating moments of the building project by retreating into the art studio to lose myself in painting. I had to complete 2 canvasses before I left, for the forthcoming Art Exhibition which (weather permitting!) will be held on the Bourtzi on (Greek) Easter Saturday; April 26th. The theme is ‘On the Wing’ and more than 20 local artists are donating their paintings of birds. Here are my contributions:
‘Peacock at Evangelistra’
There will also be a wonderful display of decorative eggs (including several beautiful antique ones) and many of the islanders and their children have been busily decorating eggs to sell on the day. There will be an introductory talk of the significance of the egg and its history in this, the most important date in the Greek Orthodox calendar. All proceeds this year will go to charity for local children with special needs. I was delighted to be invited onto the Art Committee that was set up to organize the event and along with all the usual wonderful traditional Easter festivities, that draw so many visitors to the island each year, all in all it promises to be a wonderful occasion. I’m only sorry to be missing the celebrations myself this year.
One of the highlights of this trip was when I was invited to appear on Skiathos TV again – this time to give a demonstration on FLOWER PAINTING, as a guest of my friend, fellow artist Despina Mtselou. With my command of the Greek language still being so poor (but improving all the time!!), she kindly translated for me as I showed various techniques using acrylics and water colour. During the 45 minute programme, I painted several spring flowers including poppies, tulips and pansies that are abundant all over the island at this time of year. As soon as I can figure out how to do it, I will add a short clip from the DVD.
This was the final and largest painting, in acrylics on canvas, of irises. It now hangs in the foyer of the TV studio!
On the first day of Lent, Καθαρή Δευτέρα ‘Clean Monday’ (March 10th), the Mayor hosted a party at Koukounaries beach to which more islanders turned out than ever before. We all took along our picnics and with much laughter, free-flowing wine, music and dancing, a great time was had by all. Following local tradition, the local children flew their kites and the weather was perfect with just the required amount of sunshine and wind to make it a successful, colourful and memorable occasion.
Arriving in Skiathos in mid February, I felt I’d caught the tail end of winter. Although apparently, it been a relatively mild one with only one or two really fierce wind and rain storms (and none of the heavy snows that Skiathos can experience) there was still a distinct chill in the air, the days were short and the nights were bitterly cold. The air, still thick with the pungent smell of woodsmoke, the island was completely still and incredibly peaceful. But It wasn’t long before I felt Spring was on its way. I awoke one morning to find that suddenly the island had sprung to life. The dormant meadows and olive groves had suddenly become carpeteted in spring flowers; seas of delicate lilac anemones everywhere! These were soon followed by banks of tall graceful asphodels, marguerites and wild and flag irises and still later, when the fields of bright red poppies appeared, and the swifts began their arial ballets , darting in and out of the koukounaries pines and twittering their bird-song in the Koumara bushes, I knew that Spring had indeed arrived. Up in the hills, the mists were receding to reveal the mauve Judas trees and lime-green euphorbias bursting into bloom. I think It really is my favourite time of year on the island. Not only because of the breath-taking beauty that is all around but that first rush of excitement, after the long sleep of winter, before the island really springs into action to make ready for the first influx of tourists, at Easter, is truly a wonder to behold.
The air suddenly becomes filled with the other sounds of Spring; countless strimmers and chain-saws buzzing in the valleys, cement mixers churning away in the distance, over-size lorries begin dashing all over the place, maneuvering up mule tracks to deliver their loads of sand and cement. Hammering and banging as yet more construction and renovation begins.
Skiathos town sheds its sleepy village winter persona and, seemingly overnight turns into a busy hive of activity as shop-keepers, returning from the mainland, open-up their stores, and set to sprucing-up, re-stocking their wares and make ready for a new season. Huge ferries begin to arrive in the port and empty their holds, depositing vast trucks and countless cars, laden with everything from supermarket supplies to building materials, onto the crowded quay-sides. Cafe’s open and soon fill up, brighly-coloured awnings appear, taverna chairs & tables are set out and the empty old port begins to fill up with the fishing caiques again, all brightly and newly painted after spending their winter shored-up in the boatyards.
Yes, a new season has definitely arrived and the annual circus begins…..
The Mayor of Skiathos chose the work of local artists for the theme of next year’s ‘official’ calendar. I felt so honoured when I discovered he’d chosen one of my paintings for the front cover and another painting (from of my ‘Chuches of Skiathos’ series) was selected for the accompanying booklet. I will have similar calendars (in English) available for sale on my website soon. If anyone would like to pre-order one, just let me know (they will be in the Skiathos shops this summer).
Prints of all my paintings are for sale at:
Every year in August, the Mayor of Skiathos’ Cultural Committee organises an Art Exhibition, on the Bourtzi, to display and promote the work of local artists. It is always a highly successful and extremely well-attended event with virtually the whole population of Skiathos, turning out for what is one of the most eagerly-anticipated highlights in the Skiathos calendar.
These are some photos of the last year ‘s event showing the work of just some of the artists (out of more than thirty who exhibited) . Namely Despina Mitselos, Asia Brassan, Gail Stathakis, Stamatas Patir, Giasemi Kondili, Georgios Vrezarianos, Eleni Mermiga, Panagiota Koroniou…… and myself
Here are four of my paintings from the ‘Skiathos Churches’ series: