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.
The results fascinate me because, I believe, they blend without losing anything of 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 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 both of us at times as she simply disappeared inside immense clouds of heavy white 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 gallery 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 gallery presents a setting of defined femininity by blending shapes, colours and textures around the central 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 human. We felt at home, ventured far and concluded with great enthusiasm.
Sikinos Village Scene gallery, the most recent addition, offers a glimpse of the peacefulness and cultivated beauty characteristic of the island. The woman, respectfully dressed in black, though unafraid to show her energy and determination through well defined bare arms and legs below the knee, encounters and contrasts the motionless small community atmosphere.
Psathi Building gallery, 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 gallery, 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 gallery 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 chaotic texture which was somewhat evident with the natural blues.
Tree of Manganari gallery 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 gallery by its title proposes progressive motion. Situated between two age-old, country terraces, the unusual flight of steps in stone take the refined lady in black energetically upwards towards a patiently awaiting, able-bodied olive and its many siblings near and far.
N.B. Visitor galleries are exclusive single print editions for collectors and art galleries accessed, in some cases, via a password using the Password Request Form (PRF).