Photographing Episkopi church, Sikinos

Introduction to the 'Buildings' galleries
By Mark Wilman

Though not old by Greek standards, the church of Episkopi on Sikinos island converted into a Christian house of worship in the 3rd century A.D. is the most impressive encounter I've had with architecture during the making of this project.

Until 2018, it was believed to have been a former temple of Apollo made into a mausoleum for a Roman General. However, the tomb of a noble woman 'Neiko' was discovered in July of that year hidden under the building, with her name inscribed upon her grave indicating Episkopi's true purpose.

By coincidence, I had photographed at the church with the model dressed in classical costume two years prior to this in 2016 and had felt an aura of femininity about the building at the time. One of the photos from the Lost Lady of Sikinos, Neiko set became the centrepiece of the exhibition at the Aquarium of Milan in spring 2019 because of its unique historical relevance.

The now crumbling neoclassical mining administration building at Mega Livadi in Serifos is a museum in itself and walking inside it a question of uncertainty. The atmosphere of this small village by the sea is welcoming and historically intriguing.

The bay, like much of the island, was intensely focused on iron ore extraction, as can be seen by the solid stone supporting structures, iron tracks and bridge abandoned decades ago.

Working conditions in the mines were very harsh, and, according to historians, thousands of workers lost their lives in the tunnels due to the inhuman working conditions and lack of safety measures. Serifos is unusual, as is immediately evident by looking at its shape on a map. It fascinates me each time I visit.

Ios I've known since 1974 and was there for more visits in the years that followed. After that, staying on the western side, where the port and village are, became less frequent, except for the time I arrived from travelling in Asia not feeling 100%, let's say less than forty, or later when my son was not yet two.

It took at least twenty years before I got to know the house in Kambos, behind Yialos beach in Ios port bay. Built in 1898 for a teacher on the island, the two storey building is still intact, quite well so. Abandoned in the 50s, the rooms remain filled with furniture carefully placed, including coverings on beds. The only other time I've seen this was at the sulphur mine on the eastern side of Milos in the western Cyclades, although those are abandoned offices and workers' living quarters.

The late afternoon October sunlight was perfect, the house responded splendidly to the challenge both inside and out. The grounds around are enormous with a wall of thick bamboo in front extending lengthwise for a hundred meters and as high as any I've seen other than in Bali. Sometime later, a local woman informed me that the place is filled with snakes, not that I saw one. Hiss, hiss, ouch.

With Roxana's visit came the chance to put some extra personality into my ideas regarding photographing the village. She was perfect, always in a good mood and filled with ladylike initiatives I couldn't even begin to imagine. The galleries 'Steps, Stairs & Chairs' , 'Discovering Ios Village' and White Curtain, Pointed Wall were created and represent our ideas combined.