MANI / Μάνη – Painting the Southern Peloponnese: In the Footsteps of Patrick Leigh Fermor

MANI / Μάνη – Painting the Southern Peloponnese: In the Footsteps of Patrick Leigh Fermor
Culture

I was always fond of John Craxton’s cover illustrations for Patrick Leigh Fermor’s travel books, but had not really understood the longstanding connection between these two men or their mutual love for Greece until Ian Collins’ retrospective exhibition and monograph on Craxton in 2011. It unveiled a remarkable series of luminous paintings, many in tempera, that seemed to distil the essence of Greek landscape and life (Cretan in particular). Their linear form owes much to Modernism, but also to the close study of Byzantine painting and the mentoring of Greek painter Nikos Hadjikyriakou-Ghika, a lifelong friend to both Craxton and Leigh Fermor. This creative fellowship played out during the second half of the 20th century moving between their homes on Crete, Hydra and the Mani peninsula and has just been celebrated in an exhibition called ‘Charmed Lives in Greece’ at the British Museum earlier this year. I read ‘Mani, Travels in the Southern Peloponnese’ (written in Ghika’s house on H

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