Introduction to 'Visitor' Galleries
A few notes about my work in the Visitor galleries
by Mark Wilman
My biggest joy photographically has been where I've brought the female form into the wild landscapes of the Cyclades islands, particularly Ios, resulting in the 'Beauty of the Female Kind' and 'Visitor' galleries on this website.
The results fascinate me because, I believe, they blend without losing their individuality and beauty: the woman's decidedly attractive qualities, immediately apparent, are as welcome as the nature of Ios surrounding her with its captivating elements helping, through colours often similar to her own, to evidence even more her alluring femininity. Her attitude, significant always, is apparent through her movements and choice of clothes.
Autumnal fog took the place of a sunny summer morning creating the setting for the 'Misty Morning, Misty Day' galleries. The experience challenged us both at times as she simply disappeared inside immense clouds of heavy white mist contrasted by the surrounding terrain recently burned black. What to make of such an experience and how to qualify its value?
The primitive stone circle, overgrown with vegetation until the three day fire, was intriguing since it showed evidence of human activity in a remote part of the island uncultivated, unvisited and rarely mentioned. Running to and fro inside my viewfinder's eye, the woman seemed challenged as if attempting escape. At times, she looked exhausted, confused, became immobilised, contemplative, lost but then defiant. This was fascinating, if not somewhat disturbing: the island was overrun by pirates throughout the middle-ages, in particular, and had suffered invasions since the beginnings of its history. What I'd witnessed was something that could very well have happened on numerous occasions over those 5,000 years, but with true aggressors involved and often with unfortunate consequences for their victims.
High Church photographed under the midday sun one early September afternoon sees the discovery by a solitary female figure of this small Byzantine church perched on the peak of the rocky hill on which sits the village of Ios. Strong contrasts in colours and natural textures make the encounter with the human form quite dynamic.
Pink Petals presents a setting of defined femininity by blending shapes, colours and textures around the centred female figure whose gaze forward away from the viewer encourages curiosity about her unseen identity.
The Sikinos galleries, begun in 2016 and continued in 2017, were an opportunity to explore and express all we'd learned from work on Ios. This photographically stimulating, new environment offered us the freedom to explore its ancient forms, both natural and of human creation. We felt at home, ventured far and concluded with great enthusiasm.
Sikinos Village Scene, the most recent addition, offers a glimpse of the peacefulness and cultivated beauty characteristic of the island. The woman, respectfully dressed in black, encounters the small community atmosphere.
Psathi Building, one of the password request galleries in the Visitor section, sees the encounter between the female form and the roughness of this deserted structure in the centre-north of Ios island. An evident sense of abandonment coupled with the blazing brightness of midday sunshine forcing its way through large glassless windows is enhanced by a backdrop of ageing beige walls creating an atmosphere of intense isolation; to me, a fascinating setting in which to admire the beauty and graceful attributes of femininity.
Burnt Terraces, another of the password request galleries, saw careful exploration on land charred only recently by a three-day fire that devastated much of north-west Ios, a consequence of which was the exposure of terraces and walls hidden till then under centuries of Cycladic flora. The setting was highly particular with the model suitably covered in a long black veil.
Church at the Top is set on a high hill with superb views over the islands to the north and west of Ios, i.e. Iraklia, Naxos, Paros, Milos, Folegandros and Sikinos. Almost 500m above sea level with no road leading to it other than the unpaved track far below, the decidedly rough vegetation separating the two makes access complicated. Reaching the church with model intact and unscratched was certainly challenging. The choice of black and white brought out immediate details in both subjects adding story but avoiding a less specific involvement, which was somewhat evident with the natural blues.
Tree of Manganari sees the interaction between the woman, solemnly dressed in traditional black, and an Aegean Cypress found on the eastern side of Ios. Placed on a grave, there perhaps for centuries, the Tree of equal age with two sturdy arms and extending branches, whose foliage is seen solely in their uppermost areas, clings to life year after year. The embrace they share is meaningful and touching.
Basic Steps by its title proposes progressive motion. Situated between two age-old, country terraces, the unusual flight of steps in stone takes the refined lady in black energetically upwards towards a patiently awaiting, able-bodied olive and its many siblings near and far.
Visitor to Kambos is set close to Skarkos hill, one of the most important prehistoric sites in the Aegean and especially the Cyclades. The graceful physical expressions of the female are enhanced by the bareness of her surroundings; the simple stone windows of the long ago abandoned house counterbalancing her extended arms, the aged tree stump causing comparison with her elegant dress and form.
A Walk in a FieldThis simple setting in the Cyclades has been undisturbed throughout history. The ancient Greeks and Romans used the land for cultivation as can be witnessed by a Roman cistern found literally metres from where the lady stands in this initial image.
Circle of Stones was photographed on the northern side of Sikinos overlooking Folegandros island. The uniqueness of the view and undisturbed surrounding quietness created an atmosphere of subtle beauty incomparable to any we'd encountered: the three elements, land, sea and sky, blended in dreamlike harmony, their golds and blues enhanced by the elegant female figure posing in black. We've since returned to the stone circle several times, but never seen it the way it was on this occasion when mid-September clouds caused the sun to mostly hide but astonish with its reappearing brilliance a few seconds at a time.
Single Path Olive trees in bright Cycladic sunlight on terraces near and far are the setting for this gallery. The lady in black follows the single path into the distance encouraging the viewer to further explore the scenery in detail.
N.B. Certain 'Visitor' galleries are accessed via a password using the Password Request Form (PRF). The photographs in these galleries are single print editions intended for art collectors and galleries.