Introduction to 'Discovering the Beauty of the Cyclades'
by Mark Wilman

I love the freedom I find in nature's beauty. I've lived so many experiences climbing Aegean mountains and rugged hills, as well as diving into the depths on just a breath all for the joy of feeling one with nature's gifts. Over time, I found reason to express myself through images hoping others might enjoy them too and be encouraged to explore.

Now a project, 'Discovering the Beauty of the Cyclades' has taken over four years to reach this point in its presentation. Certainly there are discoveries still to be made, though with so much beauty in remote areas, any kind of research of the islands' terrains requires attentive planning and a high level of fitness.

Particularly enjoyable when exploring has been the constant reminder of ancient history through findings and markings together with views of distant islands and far off horizons.

The locations included in the project in geographical order are: Santorini (volcano), Ios, Sikinos, Folegandros, Poliegos, Kimolos, Milos and Serifos.

My first encounter with the Cyclades was in 1974 aged 10. Arriving from much fresher London, the inviting Mediterranean climate was decidedly alien to my English sense of weather. I remember looking up at the infinite blue sky in disbelief wondering when the clouds would arrive.

Many years later she appeared. A psychologist who'd grown up behind the Iron Curtain. I found her fascinating. Other than her evident 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 ones of a society heavily compromised, her buoyant approach to life because of this an earned value. She was younger, very attractive to my eye and energetic, which caused an incredible energy to develop inside me.

Introducing the Cyclades to her came naturally. She adapted well to the physical demands of my explorative approach, learning to freedive and trek long distances. The islands became an important reference for both and we began experimenting photographically with her acting as model inside the natural surroundings. The results were interesting and 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 by humanity in the female form creating a bond they naturally express: woman blending harmoniously with mother nature inside the untamed, scenic landscapes of spectacular Cycladic islands.

The female form inside the project:

I have insisted on following the theme '... Blended with Beauty of the Female Kind', believing it necessary to portray 'woman' as an integral part of nature.

2016 saw us visit Sikinos in search of something we couldn't quite express. Ios and Folegandros' 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. Most significantly, Lost Lady of Sikinos, Neiko was photographed at Epsikopi church on the island's western side. Two years later, in July 2018, an archaeological discovery in the lower section of this highly significant historical building brought to light a tomb, 1,800 years old, of a woman of nobility and quite possibly the original reason for the building, therefore, not a mausoleum for a high ranking Roman soldier. Since our work here precedes this discovery, the gallery certainly has a particular meaning to us.

The project will have its first public exhibition in Milan with dates soon to be confirmed. I'm hoping it will be successful and to have the chance to show it in other significant destinations.

Thank you for visiting and hoping you enjoy the photos as much as I have creating them.