Introduction to 'Discovering the Beauty of the Cyclades'
by Mark Wilman
My photographic work 'Discovering the Beauty of the Cyclades' has taken four years to reach this point in its presentation. I believe there are still discoveries to be made, many actually. With so much beauty in remote areas, any kind of research of the islands' terrains requires attentive planning, carrying of equipment, food, enough water in thirsty conditions and a high level of fitness.
I first encountered the islands in 1974 at the age of 10. Arriving from much fresher London, the beautiful Mediterranean climate was quite unbelievable to my English sense of weather. I remember looking at the infinite blue sky in disbelief wondering when the clouds would arrive.
I've been unable to do without this beauty ever since and can't even count the number of visits unless a good amount of thought is given.
What I've found particularly enjoyable is the opportunity to explore the environments both on land and in the water. The constant reminder of ancient history through findings and markings fascinates together with views of distant islands and blue horizons.
Preparing for summer in the Cyclades became a fitness necessity which started on day one upon return each September. The fitter I got, the more I discovered the year after. An inflatable boat became a friend and exploration went even further with a wetsuit, mask, snorkel and fins.
A Greek website started an annual competition for best photo taken in the islands. Naturally, I became a member and began to try capturing what I was feeling more than what I was seeing.
This is decidedly far from what it took for me to want to create an actual project. For that to happen, I needed something more to say. That something arrived in the form of a woman.
One day she appeared. A psychologist who'd grown up under east European communism. I found her fascinating. Other than her decidedly feminine ways and attitudes, she represented a geographical area I'd never had contact with and life experience I'd never encountered.
The stories of her childhood were captivating, her buoyant approach to life, as a consequence, an earned value. She was younger than me, decidedly attractive and energetic, which caused an incredible energy to develop inside me.
Introducing the Cyclades to her was lots of fun. She adapted well to the physical demands, also learning to freedive. The islands became an important reference for both. We began experimenting photographically with her as model inside the island's natural surroundings. The results were interesting.
The concept was born:
'Discovering the Beauty of the Cyclades
Wild, Natural Beauty Blended with Beauty of the Female Kind'
The description: Wild Mediterranean nature and its encounter with humanity in the female form create a bond they naturally express: woman blending harmoniously with mother nature inside the untamed, scenic landscapes of this spectacular Cycladic island.
The significance of the female form inside the project:
The choice of including the female form inside the work seems to make it quite difficult when attempting to have it accepted inside a real-life social context. Women seem to provoke an unsafe level of desire in men, so better to avoid the subject altogether.
I have insisted on following the theme '... Blended with Beauty of the Female Kind', however, believing it's both possible and necessary to portray 'woman' as an integral part of nature and essential to humanity most particularly because of her femininity.
2016 saw us visit Sikinos in search of something we couldn't quite express. Ios' closest neighbour has a complex physical character with a history of wine production dating back over 2,500 years, noticeable over much of the hilly and mountainous landscapes.
Galleries were created for the 'Visitor' section: 'Episkopi of Sikinos' and 'Circle of Stones' to name two.
The project will have its first public exhibition in Milan with dates soon to be confirmed. We hope it will be successful and to have the chance to exhibit in other important cities and nations around the world.