"Creatures of Curiosity and Myth"
In this one day mixed media workshop we explore man's merging of humanity and beast; his creation of incredible combinations that might be the result of a rampant game of "consequences"; mythical beasts that have timeless symbolic, political and visual impact.
I introduce you to the creation of simple and effective backgrounds; the textured tones of charcoal and the subtlety of a mottled watercolour wash on ready drawn imagery which we enhance with colourful collage and finish with experimental designs using metallic pens.
You can work in the lovely Mistral Hotel gardens for any number of hours in the day during your holiday to complete a work you can later frame. I provide all materials and give you a folder for your finished work and an illustrated account of mythical creatures, from the Chimaera and Lamia, to the Centaur, Satyr and Pegasus.
This workshop gives an insight into the life and mythology of dolphins followed by the depiction of two dolphins; one using a watercolour base, the other charcoal on which we create designs with paper and fabric collage.
Some mythology: Needing a wife who would be at thome in the deep sea, Poseidon courted Thetis the nereid but when it was foretold she would have a son more powerful than Poseidon, he let her marry Pelius, a mortal. Amphritite, another nereid, was repelled when Poseidon turned to her and she fled to the Atlas mountains. So Poseidon sent messengers to persuade her to return. One of these was Delphinius, a dolphin, who pleaded Poseidon's case so well that Amphritite yielded and married him. In gratitude he set Delphinius's image among the stars as the Dolphin constellation.
History and habits: Many people have a special affinity with dolphins (delphinidae) but their origin was bizarre. They were thought to have evolved from furry land mammals called mesonychids. They had hooves and lived around the ancient Tethys sea - now part of the Mediterranean. Their bodies began to change as they spent more time in the water. They developed powerful tails, forelimbs turned into paddles and hind limbs wasted away. Their body hair disappeared and their nostrils moved to the top of their head, becoming blowholes. But it was ten million years before whale-like creatures appeared and they may have clambered back onto land to breed. They later developed remarkable abilities. They produce ultra sound with their larynx and maybe an organ in the front of their heads. Frequencies are around 200,000 vibrations a second. They can sense obstacles in their path and idenitfy from the echo what lies ahead. They can swim over 40kph and make 20 different sounds which are still a mystery. In Greece, "delphis" is both the beaked dolphin and blunt-muzzled porpoise. Delphi, the oracle, was sacred to Apollo, the dolphin god.
"Garden of the Goddess"
A three day workshop in which we create a colourful collage of the "Earth Goddess" in relation to ancient Greece. She was associated with the moon, fertility and the renewal of life and was mistress of animals and plants.
In this workshop, we incorporate flora and fauna with her image. There is an emphasis on fantasy - a personal interpretation of mythology, where you can let your imagination take flight and create a unique contemporary cosmos from nature, archaelogy and myth. Or I can give you ready drawn images on which to work. From what we can deduce, the Cretans developed a worship of the goddess which was comparatively informal, while being emotionally charged in its effort to keep in touch with the elemental. Rites were performed on mountain peaks, in caves and rustic shrines. There was ecstatic dancing and mystery, sacrifice and commitment before the matriarchy slowly declined.
We look at the background to the concept of the Great Goddess. I give you a display book with notes and illustrations then we experiment with imagery. She was an integral aspect of nature so you may depict her as part of a mountain range, a sacred grove of trees or the surging sea. This will suggest fish which may be as fantastic as you like, as well as birds, flowers, animals and her symbols. Sketch your ideas freely or I can provide you with ready drawn images.
We use watercolour or charcoal as a base on the image of the goddess and her managerie and I provide paper and fabric designs to cut for collage for your own individual images.
We cut out these finished images and arrange them in a composition suggesting the abundance of a natural world mysteriously generated.
"A Cloth of Wild Country"
The textiles of Crete flow through time - inventive and intricate - from the rich repeat patterns found in frescoes to embroidered skirt borders laced with Turkish and Italian influence. Enjoy this workshop in which Cretan and classical Greek designs are conveyed through paper and fabric collage - a decorative combination of images within a chosen shape. Join me in a visit to Chania to see samples of traditional and contemporary design. The workshop is one to six days, exploring textile design in Chania and later applying collage to a depiction of pots, bulls or a dolphin.
An insight into Cretan textile design through specialist books and A CLOTH OF WILD COUNTRY. We sketch two pots - the shapes may be real or an experiment with fantasy. Try your hand at your own versions of textile patterns on paper and cloth using coloured fibre pens.
Over a charcoal base, we add collage to the drawings of pots.
In Hania we visit the Cretan House for a close look at traditional embroidery and weaving, move on to Roka, where Michaelis uses a 400 year old loom and natural dyes to create wonderful carpets and hangings, then see silk worms and a colletion of contemporary embroidery and rugs at a shop near the Harbour. In all venues you may sketch or photograph interesting aspects of design to use later. And we shall visit a shell shop to photograph, sketch and perhaps buy a shell to use in our final project "Sea Shells and Dolphins".
We trace or draw two bulls such as those used in Minoan bull leaping. We work on designs from yesterday or I can give you ready prepared ones to finish the bull with decorative collage.
We draw a sea shell and dolphin then create designs on fabric.
We go to Elafonissi, a lovely island on the south coast in a beautiful lagoon by the Libyan Sea. Bring a small jar to collect some of its unique pink sand and tiny white shells, which you may add to "Sea Shells and Dolphins".
A Little about Me!
I grew up in Suffolk, England and started writing short stories at an early age for pocket money. I loved drawing too but had a friend who was better, so between us - I wrote, she drew - we issued The Monthly Marvel, a pinned together magazine whose contents now escape me!
On leaving school, while waiting for a job as a journalist, I worked in a bookbinder's factory in Lady Lane, Ipswich. Inappropriately named, it was opposite a slaughter house, the gutters ran with blood and the foul air was laced with the protests of terrified pigs. An alleged receptionist, I spent most of my time shopping for the boss, helping to fold Christmas cards in June and writing short stories.
My first newspaper job was on the Colchester Express, where I was a hopeless reporter but quite good as Uncle Tim and Auntie Linda for children, Lindsey Nolan, writing the women's page and on Friday nights, Bacchus, producing pub features. In my spare time I painted and used charcoal in primitive portraits. For the paper I reviewed art exhibitions. So I was happy some time later to land the job of book, art and theatre reviewer on the prestigious Hampstead & Highgate Express in London.
Meanwhile I wrote poetry and fantasy fiction for adults and children. "Fantasy Book of Food"; stories, verse and recipes with my bizarre black and white illustrations, was published by an enterprising Egyptian who ran a chess and vegetarian café in Chalk Farm. On the night of the launch party the book was still in proof form. We danced on it regardless and two weeks later it appeared.
The other strange little book I published was "Five Rides by a River" about the Suffolk countryside seen from a bicycle, for which I again did black and white illustrations.
I was also embroidering and making my own clothes, bags and scarves and when I came to Crete in 2000, landed a major commission for the deputy manager of the Creta Paradise Hotel in Gerani; a wallhanging with pockets embroidered with Egyptian and Minoan motifs. Now my work with fabric ranges from hand stitched bags to invented characters from stories I write for kids.
I began to explore mixed media on paper, producing series, combining paint, pen and collage - often accompanied by short stories, from "Dreams and Strange Encounters" to "Beautiful Beasts".
I had an exhibition at the Mitropolis Gallery, Hania in 2008, followed by a show at the Mistral Hotel where I now run these workshops.
In 2010 I showed with six other artists in "Visit to the Studio", an exhibition evoking the informality of the artist's studio, held in the former Turkish mosque in Hania Harbour and in 2011, held an exhibition there with Maria Malaxianaki. My section was called "Human-headed Pots and Deities" - the latter derived from the workshop "Garden of the Goddess".