1999 - 2006.
Being half-Greek, I always kind of had this fantasy of going back the 'Mother Country,' rediscovering my roots, finding myself, all that sort of thing. It never really happened. I ended up living on Crete and though I stayed there for over 15 years I was never much more than a long-term tourist. I could (sort of) speak the language but I was never really sure where I was. That may have been why I managed to wring so many pictures out of the sights and sounds of Heraklio, - it never stopped being a foreign, even exotic place to me. Also, I know for sure that I learnt a lot of things about painting there that I never would have learnt staying in NZ. Here are some of the pictures that I made from those years.
Yiorgos... this guy could fill a room with his voice - he sat, talked, and you had the impression five people were arguing. Pen and ink on paper, 60 x 40 cm.
Valide Tzami. Acrylic on card. 72 x 56 cm.
A sunny day outside one of the more memorable buildings in Heraklio, near the taxi stand.
Yiorgo. Pen and ink on tinted paper. About A3 size.
Pavlos and Ioannis. Pen and ink on tinted paper. Slightly larger than A3 size.
Katerina. Oil on canvas. 48 x 32 cm. One of the few times I really tried to go photographic with a painting. I use photographs often, but it's not exactly the road I really wanted to go down.
Fishermen mending nets at the Koule. Acrylic on ply. 175 x 74 cm. I've always liked the contrast between people just standing around, doing their thing while in the background there is some ancient monument. You know, we just don't have them in NZ so it always makes an impression.
Fisherman mending a net. Ink on toned paper, about A4 size. The kind of scene that tourists gush for, while the locals look at you oddly and ask - "Do you know what those guys smell like!?!"
Girl sitting in El Greco park. Ahh, Greek girls... dramatically pretty, fiercely loyal to their country and all crazy about Nick Cave. Ink, brush and pen on paper. There are a lot of students in Heraklio, and this young lady let me draw her.
The Valide Tzami. Watercolour, 41 x 28 cm. I painted this building 4 - 5 times, and this was the best version I did. it was one of my favourite buildings in Heraklio. Arabic rather than Turkish, with - seven sides. (!) It used to house ice in its roof, which would melt, and run through a series of taps near its base thus giving a supply of cold water to whomever wanted it. Now it is known as "Kouves" and works as a kafenio. Over the door is an inscription in Arabic, on the virtues of giving.
The Kids. Watercolour on paper, 70 x 58 cm. Greek, Cretan schoolkids, University students, have a penchant for dressiing black. They usually look pretty good and they know it. Outside a bar, night-time, Heraklio.
Sleeping Priest. Ink on paper, A3 size. "O Pappas o paxus..." Great model. He kept falling asleep, trying to wake up, falling asleep again... Sat so still the whole time.
Old aristocratic house, Thessaloniki street. Watercolour. A bit larger than A4.
Kosta - black chalk on tinted paper. A3 size.
Church of St. Catherine of Sinai. A very distinctive church in the heart of the old city. Watercolour, about A4 size.
The Return of Agios Minas to a small rakadiko in Heraklio. Watercolour and ink on paper, roughly A2 size. Always have been such a huge fan of Ronald Searle, I've tried to do a few over the years but I've never got it right. So here is one of them. Saint Minas, Heraklio's patron saint rebukes some of the locals for their early morning drinking habits.
Two girls walking in a street in Agios Ioannis. Pen and watercolour on paper. Kind of an old gag, but if you've seen it a thousand times, you sort of have to draw it. So I drew it.
Kafenio, Kalokairinou st. Oil on wood, 110 x 69 cm. One of those old, interesting, traditional places in the city that had survived for so long. Every day, the same 60 or so old guys would show up, drink their coffees and yell at each other. But it is no more. Around the year 2000 it closed, was gutted, and then turned into a sport shoe store. We all thought it was a crime. And where did those old guys go later?
The harbour with the Koule in the background. Pen and ink, about A2 size. I was filmed by a German tv crew while I was drawing this - some article about "The New Europe." I was famous for about 10 minutes.
Guys playing in Poppi's Kitchen, one of the best places in town. Ink and wash, about A5 size. I see at the bottom I've written "Players." Very imaginative of me.
Stelios, red chalk on tinted paper. A bit smaller than A4.
Giorgos, pen and ink. A bit larger than A2.
I never knew the name of this guy, he just walked around town yelling all day long. I think he was on medication. But I saw him in a bar one day and asked him if he'd mind sitting for a portrait. He became very quiet, and sat very still, like he was posing for some great artist. I'm not saying you'd want this on your wall, but it is a good drawing. Black chalk on paper, about 35 x 50 cm.
Another take on that kafenio I liked so much. This is watercolour, about 50 x 65 cm.