'What good is a melody, what good is music if it ain't possessing something sweet?' Whilst this is the tune, that will forever have me remembering the last five months of my life...
Now I'm going to write about what happens next..
A moment to laugh hopelessly in the chaos. I’m still uncertain as to how we got it together, how we actually managed to fill one small battered blue car with canvasses, a ton of painting materials, clothes, laptops, cameras, food, flip-flops and a surf-board. In what was but a few hours between buying ferry tickets and duly catching one at seven o’clock the next morning. Its rare I stay up all night these days, now older and somewhat partied out. Yet in fight or flight response, fuelled by coffee and copious joints, I cleared and cleaned the apartment I’ve been living in, cramming my winter clothes in one suitcase my summer in another, I did it all. Forgetting only my yoga mat, albeit it in retrospect, perhaps that was merely the universe laughing at all good intention. A few weeks later daily practice has dwindled into a new phase of effortless retirement ffs.
Anyway so here we are, this is it ‘Summer 2017’ - exactly, fifty years since 1967’s ‘Summer of Love’ - I’m thinking anything could happen? The playground is open and I’m travelling with one of life’s genuine players. I’m with Woozy. Friend, fellow artist and anti-political anarchist alike. An equal definite ‘avant-on-guard’ I’m sure I’ve known from a few past lives. Its like that sometimes, some people you just feel more connected to than others. More in tune with, like there’s less push and pull, instead a comfortable easy going way, a kind of soul seeing or knowing I don’t necessarily find in so many others. Anyway this is the man who within five minutes of our first meeting back in Athens at the end of January, conclusively described me as ‘a spiritual fugitive.’
It is what I am at the moment, an escapee, a runner, a woman trying to get as far away from her past as possible. Yet I do, I feel like a fugitive, the spiritual bit is just a way of life – but his comment was profoundly perceptive and on the back of it, sometime later a really fun and firm friendship has been born. Which considering my shit Greek, his poor English and all that gets lost in translation is fecking remarkable.
Anyway now, thanks to Woozy’s defined talent for negotiation, we are headed to Mykonos on an early ferry, to stay grace and favour of ‘Athens Academy of Fine Art’ in their house of residence. Our mutual objective ‘to work.’ Aye for feck, the biggest party island in the whole of Greece and we’re here to graft? Clambering exhaustedly off the ferry, I was wondering…
Still, the Academy’s house is something else. Sat in absolutely the best position overlooking Mykonos town, its a rambling shabby mausoleum of painting studios, bedrooms and basic facilities. That actually, with only Woozy and I in residence suddenly felt like a garrison or grand lofted castle of all protection and infinite possibility. The weather just how I love it; twenty-five degrees, wild flowers in bloom. Now out of Athens; consumed by the freshness of change, that rich sense of all being new with everything yet to discover. At heart I’ve always been a traveller, someone forever wary of commitment, fearful of being entrapped by the mundane, the need for adventure intrinsic.
Albeit, Woozy who had been partying like ‘the god of’ before leaving Athens, duly spent the first three days sleeping. Unbelievable, funny as feck; the dribbling demi-god of all decadence laid out like the living dead. Yet while he slept, I established myself with an office on the Academy’s vast roof terrace. My laptop tucked into the shade, my mini-rig bouncing tunes like Fatboy Slim shouting ‘KosieT’s fecking in heaven.’ The sun swathed writer, I'm thriving; my lazy sub-personality in a moments suppression and I’m genuinely getting back to work.
Still for feck, it maybe the beginning of summer, but I'm under pressure, my back getting closer to the wall. Too much dope, forever living in a fantasy??? Months in Athens and only a few photographs to show for it? Whilst reality is proof that the average artist lives on less than ten grand a year; its May and I havent earned a penny for twenty...ffs I need a Patron!! A philanthropic lover of art, or just a philanthropic lover would do?? Certainly, I need help. Really, I need everyone's help for what I wish to create...
Yet first perhaps I should come out of hiding?
Ffs my crazy creative mind is always angling for greater expression, yet ever confined by a monetary world??? Creating for money holds no impetus for me. Creativity itself is a gift, 'to give it' - to bestow 'a thing' to give a piece of lovingly crafted art or share creative time with another. That's Christmas, that's giving it back. I get this. Alas when all that stands creatively before me are my own goals and own need to achieve, which now looks like hunger, I do query the where abouts of my sanity??? Whilst like us all I need money, stubborn, deeply fucked up but very creative; I was born a survivor. The crazy I am, the impetus has always been the vision 'imaginations raw picture.' That first inkling of the idea, that whole thought process that for me is 'the reacurrent and dominant idea that just wont go away.'
I've had my mind for nearly fifty years - I get it, I know how it works, and all of what's triggered its thinking. Yet what I’m lugging about this summer, is an idea I’ve been developing for over twenty-years and has actually cost me everything I've ever had. An idea that has dragged me through hot coals of mental torment and bought me to my knees time and time again; it is, it's my life's work - it's unique, nothing like it has ever been created before. Yet then there has never been a time like this before... Its the mother of all consideration - that presently has the working title of 'TIT' aka The Impecunious Transmogrification...
What 2 do? It's a conceptual piece of art. A very personal to do or die. Alas, it's Summer 2017, its now or never...
So, here we are in ‘Mykonos, Mykonos, Mykonos’ bejesus it is so Me-Kosie-Not. What an extraordinary island, so much cash and so much trash all in one place. Monopolising the entire sea front sits the most enormous gin-palace I’ve ever seen. Word from the harbour is that this ‘thing’ cost six-hundred-million quid. Ffs – people are starving; how can anyone have that amount of money to spend on a boat? More vulgar still, its like ‘Pimp My Dingy’ every evening this ‘thing’ glows in different colours; one night red, the next blue, the next purple – it’s so gangster.
Then again, all of Mykonos feels like its run by the Mafia. The cost of everything is just made up to fucking expensive. A five euro adaptor plug is thirteen euros sixty? The Chinese girl on the beach wants forty euros for a half-hour massage, yet instinctively you know that thirty-five of that will be for her Albanian or Greek manager. The twenty-two-year-old beautiful leggy blond draped round the rotund red-faced-cold-eyed-sixty-year-old wearing his diamond Rolex, linen shirt with matching shorts, being duly shadowed by two gnarled looking body-guards with Walkie Talkies. The posse of drunken Mancunians on a hen weekend. Each struggling in the small cobbled streets in their six-inch-heals ‘the contemporary salad dodging of floppy flesh’ grossly under contained by tight dresses. The layers of foundation, false eye-lashes and streaky false tans melting in the heat. Alas for me, the only thing seemingly real in Mykonos is the reality of how sinister and soulless, how sad society has become, everyone saturated not by the rejuvenating simplicity of a little sand and sun, but the ever subliminal pressure to ‘be someone’ and flaunt monetary success.
Still, with the Academy as a lofted sanctuary; Mykonos was good to me. Woozy painted, I wrote; we were there to do, not play. Yet actually in the electric energy of all others partying hard, working hard felt more akin to the rebel thing to do. Although in truth, what I’m writing had me wiggling uncomfortably, its objective so grandly ambitious, hence, through my own tangible fear of not being understood, really my time on the Academy's roof has been pretty sweaty.
However Mykonos wasn’t all work, we've had some top days on the beach. All bringing back mystical memories of wondrous long summer days experienced on Corfu as a child. While I remain hopeless when it comes to learning Greek, I’m not ignorant to how these lands, seas and food somehow feel like an intrinsic part of my DNA. As with a life times inherent need to swim, it was in these Greek waters I first learnt to swim. Back here again, the sand between my toes, nothing but my bikini bottoms on and somehow in all the knowledge of self following the years and months of recent struggles, really I question how I’m British? When in truth beyond my mother tongue, I share so little affinity with my country. Yet put me on a secluded Greek beach with the sun on my face and the seas salt on my skin and I can’t get away from this feeling of coming home. Perhaps I should do as Woozy and Marlene keep saying, stop being ‘the spiritual fugitive’ learn Greek and live here permanently??
Feck knows, yet I’ve now got things going on in Greece. Working with Woozy, we’ve got this potentially great project, that may or may not yet evolve as an exhibition. Its an idea that evolved over supper one night, really from actually laughing ‘at Woozy’. He the good looking, famous rebel artist that all the young girls adore. An ever constant string of them ‘idol-ing about’ fighting to be the one. Yet really his affections are ever transient, too many to choose from, the grass always greener somewhere else. In these months of our friendship, seemingly our conversation merely rolls with the drama and constant dilemma he’s in. It’s a soap opera, yet while I understand his need for a muse to maintain his creativity. Ffs it takes him a least two hours everyday of texting, phone calls and social-media just to maintain his little bundle of beauties. His telephone bill for two and half weeks of no Wi-Fi in Mykonos, 350.00 Euros???
Me, well I’m like Dear Deirdre, or the big sister laughing at her little brother’s hopeless misconceptions of the female kind. It is its like this, his inability to actually ascertain the real issue behind his predicaments is hysterical, like so many men, his understanding of our female nature and womanly nuances remains hopelessly off beam. Hence, how this idea evolved, a creative study of ‘the female nature’ in the hope it might help???
Yet now its a project testing my own abilities as a photographer; I’ve never photographed naked women before. Whilst millions have done it before me, it is a challenge to do exquisitely and tastefully. Photographing two beautiful girl’s in Mykonos, I’ve made a start, a beginning, scratched the surface on what is really a much bigger project. Yet its me that must admit to a far more nervous state of being than those naked before my lens. Hopelessly apprehensive of not doing their raw beauty justice; honestly trying to respect the goddess in all of us but knowing how the camera's a cunt for never lying is an edgy headspace. Still if I'm learning anything 'from photographing our human nakedness' it is how tangibly unique each of us women truly stand.
Anyway a few weeks later, loads of cash and trash, big dingies, naked women, a few canvasses and some writing later. ‘Surfs up’ and just in the same crazy panic we left Athens, we repeated exactly the same process departing our lofted castle in Mykonos. Two hours of mayhem and now we’re on the ferry to Tinos, because surfer boy Woozy is chasing some waves. It was all part of the plan, I’m travelling with a surfer, a man whose natural stance has one foot forward and one foot angled, whilst definitely pipe lining his way through life.
Still I adore Woozy, hopeless is as hopeless does and we’re both equally creatively chaotic, whilst seemingly everything that happens to us ends up as a hardcore situation. Generally demanding some frantic swift choice and lots of mutual reassurance, that has us both energetically laughing a repetitive ‘We’re good, we’re strong’ when actually everything is in a state of absolute mayhem.
So now we’ve rented a house in Tinos for six weeks. An island that is forty minutes from and the complete polar opposite to Mykonos. From all the cosmopolitan bling like farce of Mykonos, we are now on an island twenty something miles long with 1001 churches on it. Really like leaving London and arriving in the very North of Scotland, we’ve shifted from urban to rural; from a large rambling mausoleum to a tiny cottage. Which in all honesty demanded a couple of days of transition, with both Woozy and I kind of having to suck in our ever expanding egos and auras to a more congenial matchbox size.
I like Tinos, its more rural slower pace, easier and more comfortable. Albeit I’ve got snake paranoia, on the first morning here I went bounding out over the hills wearing just shorts and trainers. Whilst aware of a niggling feeling that perhaps I was being a little bold – it was when I came back and was duly informed of my absolute craziness against the backdrop of the killer vermin lying in the grass. Needless to say, now squirming, I haven’t been off road or track since. So, out of character...
Anyway, beyond the terrifying wriggly bits. Now I’m a surfer chick. ‘Surfers’ I’ve known a few, yet I don’t think I’ve ever understood the passion. That is until now, now I get it. Albeit its taken the zoom on my Nikon to comprehend. Yet wow I’ve really enjoyed it, like discovering a sport you’ve never tried before ‘photographing surfer boys’ now like my new black. Positioned in some lofted place on the rocks, in a state of absolute concentration with my lens focused on the bobbing bodies far out at sea. It’s been extraordinary, for a sport I didn’t understand, with my zoom I was in the water with them, waiting, watching, scrambling for the wave. Yet it is that thing blink and you miss it, as frustrating and as rewarding as photography can be, it was still like same shit different subject. Woozy waiting for his wave, me waiting for the perfect shot. The concentration needed to get the two in tandem as always in the hands of the universe.
Still after hours on the beach each day behind my focussed lens, I understand how the power of the sea lingers, how that ever constant roll of nature entrenches itself upon the soul of these surfer boys demanding both patience and challenge in equal measure. Not for the faint hearted, it is a beautifully wild sport.
Anyway following a really fun week with Woozy discovering Tinos and being introduced to his posse of surfer mates here, he’s had to leave and go back to Athens for work. Waving goodbye to him, I had a few hours to duly tidy up before Clare arrived on the late ferry. Dear Clareee, my dangerously good friend and one of the funniest people I know. Having not seen her for five months its rich to have her here. Its also good speaking English without having to check the words and pace of what I’m saying. Yet while she always blames me and I always blame her, against my own backdrop of loads of work, my efforts not to drink or toke so much dope has lasted for weeks. Alas, Clareee’s arrival signals a trepidation within me. A deep rooted knowing that now reunited ‘Trouble is in Tinos...’
Alas dear Woozy also knows me well, aware of my absent minded not always quite on this earthly plane way. As he left me on Saturday, his beautiful face suddenly all lined with concern and listing all the things I mustn’t forget ‘Don’t forget to turn the oven off, don’t leave the boiler running, hide your laptop, don’t leave you camera lying about, lock the fucking door.’ Wah wah, blah blah, but as I kissed him goodbye, I did impart ‘Ffs Woozy, don’t worry so much Clare’s really sensible...’
Three fucking stonking hangovers later, which includes some quite remarkable film footage of her dancing to the Stones ‘You can’t always get what you want’ in what are the most enormous pair of cream Bridget Jones knickers anyone has ever seen. And well, so far I could say she’s been quite tame. Yet bless her, her beautiful butter-wouldn’t-melt innocent face has endeared all our church going neighbours to the backdoor with grand offerings of fresh eggs and salad produce from their gardens. Whilst much to my amusement the old boy who lives to the right of us, has never had it so good. Get Clareee on the balcony in her bikini and if you look carefully whilst pretending not to, there is this little eye peaking out from behind the curtain that hangs in his doorway. Regrettably, on the basis of the guttural groaning that proceeds, he’s now all too rightfully acquired the nick-name ‘Tommy Tug.’
Anyway, its late on the 31st May. We’ve just returned from a day on the beach, Clare’s a little burnt, me well, if getting brown is a competition it is the only one I’ve ever one. Tomorrow June begins, we’ve another month in this little house, Woozy will be back next week, none of us know where or what next. Yet while, every bar, restaurant and club is preparing themselves for the summer season, a month into mine; here setting the scene ‘May’s been great.’
Music a constant, too much to choose from. Yet in the consideration of my own very much more personal essence of self this past week: I seem to have played this a few times.