The post below I posted in November 2015 time has passed as have many people. Lesvos is not the same place as it was then but I don’t think we can sit back and think all is fine. There are still people, many people out there in our world suffering in all sorts of ways and we cannot just turn our backs. Start in any small way a friendly smile a little compassion and a LOT of love for all our human relatives.
Lesvos is such a beautiful Greek Island, the third largest and a fantastic place to visit this year. Meet warm genrous people, swim in the Aegean sea, watch amazing sunsets and enjoy the authenticity of village life.
Come visit LESVOS you won’t be dissapointed!
If you would like to be reminded of my post in November 2015 read on.
Thank you for being interested x

Our rescue dog Nellie being adored by refugee children who have just arrived on Lesvos, by rubber boat. Nellie is such a sweet girl and so gentle and the children are immediately drawn to her.

Last week I returned to Sydney. It took around thirty-three hours’ door to door. I travelled from My Greek Island Home by car to the airport and then took three planes before being chauffeured to my final destination, my apartment in Potts Point. I was fed along the way, watched a couple of movies and slept comfortably. On arrival I was greeted by my Mum, Dad and my best friend friend Mary Lou. My apartment was clean and warm and there was a scented candle burning and white roses had been placed beside my bed. We drank wine, nibbled on some delicious, cheeses and chattered.

I felt safe and loved.

So why am I telling you this? Because I have been trying to process a situation that has been unfolding daily, an enormous human crisis.

My journey began on The Greek Island of Lesvos, the third largest of the Greek Islands. My partner, artist, Matthew Usmar Lauder and I have had a house there for the last ten years. Lesvos is a beautiful island situated in the Northern Aegean and up until recently an island that most people had never heard of.

Now not a day goes by without it being mentioned on the news as thousands of refugees flee their homes, from countries where they are longer safe. They risk their lives travelling across the Aegean in over crowded and unsafe rubber and wooden boats in the hope of finding a safe place in Europe for themselves and their families.

On a late spring morning two years ago Matthew and I were walking our rescue dogs along the dirt track which winds out of our village for five kilometres to the Aegean Sea. It was a beautiful day and we were enjoying our walk in the sunshine. The sky was clear and we could see Turkey. On this particular day we saw something unfamiliar, a group of people in the distance, usually we only see a few of the local farmers. At first I thought it was an organised group of walkers but on closer inspection we realized they were refugees. We were shocked, really shocked. There were about thirty of them and the group included woman and children. It was so out of the blue and so out of context. We stopped and spoke with them, a couple of the males spoke English. They were Kurds and Somalian and they did not no where they were, let alone that they were on an island. They wanted to get to the nearest police station. This was our first encounter with refugees and we had no idea at that time of the avalanche that was to come.

Every day is a challenge, a struggle an emotional roller coaster. There are between two thousand and five thousand people arriving daily and there is no end to it, it’s like ground hog day.

The world is aware that Greece has its own problems, the economy is in shreds and there is little infrastructure. But despite this people on the island have been remarkable and generous beyond belief, meeting the boats, cooking food, collecting clothing, doing everything they possibly can to make the refugees safe and comfortable. The Greek people have always been welcoming and generous and the foreigners living on the island are doing remarkable work too.

Since February men, women, children, old people and disabled people have walked in the rain, wind and searing heat for four days to the islands capital, Mytilene. There they are registered enabling them to board boats to Athens and make their way to new countries where they hope to be safe and build new lives. Some of these people have witnessed members of their families dying. These people are unlikely ever see their homelands again. Can you imagine what that must feel like?

It is impossible to ignore the plight of these people, they come in their thousands everyday. Everyone is effected here. It’s extremely traumatic.

I saw a man carrying his pet dog under his jacket walking the road towards Mytilene in the rain, this made me break down completely. One image set me off crying, tears streamed down my face and I found myself sobbing uncontrollably. I was beside myself with an unbelievable sense of grief. Later I felt the most enormous amount of guilt. Why did I not stop? Why did I not take him and the dog to the vet to get the dog chipped medicated and a passport for it to travel further? What made this the thing that tipped me over the edge? When I speak with other people they say the same how just one thing can make them cry uncontrollably.

Witnessing this daily has been unbelievable, everyone is traumatised.

This is the reality. The refugees leave Turkey to travel across the Aegean Sea in overcrowded, rubber and wooden boats some barely seaworthy. They pay traffickers from 1000 to 3000 dollars each to make the journey. The Turkish authorities turn a blind eye to this. If the refugees hesitate because they are terrified the traffickers hold guns to their heads forcing them onto the boats. Some of the rubber boats are being made so fast that the glue has not had time to set. The boats are completely packed, there can be as many as 50 per rubber boat and probably none of the occupants can swim. Sometimes they are told to throw the little possessions they have off the boat. One refugee is given the responsibility of steering the boat, not only can he not see where he is going because the boat is so overcrowded but he has never seen the sea before. Crossing the Aegean can be very dangerous particularly at night. There are many tankers and the sea is rough. Some refugees land with broken and dislocated limbs. Some don’t make it and drown, mostly children and babies.

One pregnant womans waters broke in Turkey and was forced onto the boat and gave birth on arrival on the beach at Lesvos. The Greek coastguards do what they can but don’t always have petrol to go out to meet the boats this leaves the local fishermen and volunteers. The fishermen cannot turn a blind eye to sinking boats and rescue people. Unfortunately, their boats are to small to take everyone and they are left to make the decision on who to take and who to leave behind.

Why in this day and age when they can send men to the moon is this happening? This is history repeating itself and some of the very old locals remember this trip themselves as children, during the cultural exchange. It’s a nightmare.

One of my friends told me that a boat arrived crammed pack with people and there was something different about them that she could not put her finger on, they seemed more traumatised than usual. After they were all taken from the boat she saw the dead body of a woman lying on the bottom. This woman had died before boarding the boat and her family did not want to leave her so her body was put in first and the men women and children placed on top.

Last week there were many lives lost in the sea because of storms it is just the saddest thing and there is absolutely no need for this to be happening. Bodies were washed up onto the beaches, a large number being children. These people have been through enough and deserve to be transported safely and treated with dignity. As the winter descends on us the situation will only get worse. I woke up in the middle of the night a few weeks ago feeling sick to my stomach at the thought of the thousands of men, women and children being exposed to terrible storms, pounding rain, wind, thunder and lightening, with no shelter.

The island itself cannot cope as there are only few ambulances, rubbish collections are scarce and the coastline is strewn with with fluorescent life jackets and rubber boats. There is litter all along the roads. People are volunteering to help with all this but it does not stop building up with new arrivals.

Nothing could have prepared us for any of this. And certainly nothing could have prepared the millions of people who are now called refugees for what they have had to endure to date.

As I sit here writing this from the safety of my Sydney home, looking out over the harbour I fail to make sense of any of it. Each day I am haunted by what I have witnessed. I realise that where you are born impacts so much on how your life unfolds. I question world leadership and political motives and my concern grows for the beautiful Island of Lesvos and its generous people. I realise that this situation is so enormous that it will not end any time soon. I understand that people no matter where they come from or what their religion are all the same.

I have encountered such warmth and gratitude from those I have transported in my car. Usually we hug to say goodbye and the depth of this hug is huge.

It’s important for everyone to see and understand just how fragile the world. It is equally as important to see how wonderful the human race can be when they work together for each other.

Thank you to all the Greek people of Lesvos who are sharing everything they have. Thank you to the non Greek locals who have been brilliant working as hard as they possibly can and thank you to the volunteers who have come from all over the world to help.

And to the refugees the beautiful people I have met I wish you safety and love and that you find peace and another place you can call home.

Please, please don’t let this put you off coming to the island, come and share all the wonderful things that Lesvos and its people have to offer. It is such a special place and it needs not only volunteers but tourists.

#lovinglesvos

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I LOVE a project and this year has started with a big bang! The bang of hammers and crow bars. We now own a little part of Tasmania. Little is exactly what it is, a small miners holiday shack thrown up on crown land in the most basic but charming way.

The little shack

A little boat I have my eye on

Serenity

Last year we went to Strahan and stayed at the most beautifully styled cottage in Lettes Bay called The Capitan’s Rest. Sarah Andrews a modern pioneer, has created this hideaway which I have enjoyed following on Instagram for well over a year.

Matthew hard at work

Destroying the bathroom

A new window goes in

On our arrival we discovered the previous guests had locked the key inside the house.
Whilst waiting for another one I wandered around taking in the beautiful surroundings of the bay leaving Matthew chattering with a local.
Matthews chat turned out to be very fruitful indeed as the local revealed that a small cottage nearby could potentially be his.
One thing led to another and before we knew it, it was.
You could say it was chance or luck or you could just say it was meant to be.

Can’t wait to continue

So now the real fun begins. Plans are afoot, and walls have been removed. We are doing what we love best of all breathing new life and love into this little shack. It will take time as our time in Australia draws to a close, but we are excited to be coming back and picking up where we left off.
Another nurturing space to create and another beautiful spot to share.
I hope you enjoy a few snaps of our work
Love Claire x

Imagine yourself staying in an authentic village on a Greek island, surrounded by the beauty of nature and swimming in the blue Aegean. Then add to that the JOY of tapping into your creative self………………… is this sounding inviting? YOU are INVITED!

The Aegean Sea, Lesvos photographed by Claire Lloyd

One of the things that we are rarely told in life, is that we are creators. We may hear that we are creative but rarely that we are creators and our lives are a form of art and the best way to create them is with joy and passion.

Most of us pass our lives not understanding what our true life’s desires are how to ignite that joy and passion within us.

You are invited  you to slow down and switch off, do a stock-take on how far you have actually come and then to set sail in your new direction and consciously create the next part of your life through the glorious vehicle of art and awakening your six senses.

In this special retreat on the island of Lesvos, four friends want to give you the greatest gift we can give you, that is to connect you to your passion. We want to inspire and guide you to find what brings you JOY, connect you to your passion and the desire’s in your heart and to show you that everybody is creative (including you)

Artist Matthew Usmar Walkswithdogs in the Lesvos landscape with his trusty assistants, Styx and Trixie  photographed by Claire Lloyd

Our wish is that you will be inspired, refreshed and revived and go home with JOY in your heart for how good the next part of your life can be, a journal full of notes, an art book full of beauty, and unique travel memories to last a lifetime.You will know and believe you are creative, had the chance to sit front row in the lives of others, now a new tribe of creative souls and that you have the ability to create the life you desire.

Me photographed by Carla Coulson Delicious velvet cushions from our home photographed by Claire Lloyd

As long-time residents of Lesvos Matthew and I offer an invitation to share our lives in a beautiful authentic Greek village where community is paramount.  We are opening our home, our hearts, the places welove and our creativity to give you a true insight into the reality of living creatively in every sense.

Together with Carla Coulson and her hubby, Francesco Cataldi the four of us combine our expertise as artists, photographers, creators of beautiful spaces, naturopath and life coach to help you uncover your deep desires, embrace them and how your passion and creativity can drive the next part of your life. The goal is JOY!

Our home where we love to entertain  photographed by Claire Lloyd

We invite you to slow down and switch off, do a stock-take on how far you have actually come and then to set sail in your new direction and consciously create the next part of your life through the glorious vehicle of art and awakening your six senses.

Each day will be a mix of focus sessions to inspire and motivate you, art lessons, healthy delicious local food, yoga or swimming, walks, boat trips and long table lunches in our favourite tavernas and at our home. There will be breathing and grounding techniques to assist you to access your intuition and downtime to reflect on our discussions, about your path, practice your new found love of drawing and art. The evenings will be spent together around a table reflecting on the day, enjoying local food and the thing the Greeks do so well, Kephi (enjoying life in the moment). Oh, and did we mention there will be Greek dancing!

Our island world  photographed by Claire Lloyd  Francesco Cataldi  giving it his all photographed by Carla Coulson

Yoga will be taught by an experienced yoga practitioner Marjaana Makela, who studied under Angela farmer, art lessons will be led by Matthew Usmar Walkswithdogs and other focus sessions will be shared between Carla Coulson, and Francesco Cataldi and me.

It’s not about going faster, achieving things that no longer count, it’s about going slower, really hearing the words of a conversation or birdsong, feeling what your gut is truly saying, tasting food like it’s the first time you have ever eaten and being revived and refreshed by a dip in the Aegean’s transparent waters. It’s about putting pen to paper or trying your first painting and learning to cut through the noise to find out what you really want.

A little peek inside our guesthouse photography Claire Lloyd and Carla Coulson

Claire Lloyd creator of nurturing spaces and photographer, artist Matthew Usmar Walkswithdogs, Naturopath Francesco Cataldi and photographer and life coach Carla Coulson, all know about changing their lives to continue to go after what is in their hearts. It’s their connection to joy, creativity and their true life’s desires that continue to drive and create the lives they wish for.

Carla Coulson looking beautiful in white

5 DAILY FOCUS SESSIONS:

CREATIVITYYou are born a creator! Creativity is not an exclusive club, you don’t need a badge or to be born into a special family. Creativity opens your heart to new experiences, people, relationships and self-esteem. It connects you to a passionate part of your soul with a feeling akin to love. All of us are creative souls and when we allow our creativity we get access to a part of ourselves that we have kept locked away. We encourage, inspire and challenge you to live a creative life and show you how and what is holding you back from living a more creative life.

YOUR LIFE’S DESIRES – Uncover and fine tune the desires in your heart and make them a big YES. We take stock of where you are in life, challenge you to think bigger and remember your dreams. We show you how to connect your desires to passion so that it will drive the next chapter of your life.

CONSCIOUS LIVINGWe let you in on the secret that allows us to continually go after our dreams and make them our reality. It’s our thoughts and beliefs that hold us back from our dreams and we show you how you can transform them and start heading in the direction of your true desires. We show you how we tap into our intuition to make better life decisions and how to direct our energy.

WELLBEING – Our bodies are the temples that house our souls!!! When you connect your mind, body and spirit you embrace true well-being. Saying yes to a bigger life full of desires means embracing your health. When you nurture your well-being you empower your soul, confidence, and self-belief.  We touch on diet, exercise, breath, the nervous system, and the importance of self-care all with joy and a new way of looking at it. 

JOY – Imagine if you could get more of what you want in life by having more fun and joy! Hard work will get you so far but joy, beauty and pleasure will fast-track it. Joy is a state of being. When you feel joy, you are present, physically and emotionally.  When you tap into joy you are at one with yourself and source energy. We show you how to embrace, beauty, pleasure in your daily life to being you more joy.

 

There is always something delicious to eat photography Claire Lloyd and photograph of me by Carla Coulson

We are Longing to share our Lesvos and our JOY with you

BIG LOVE ClaireXX

For more information and to book go to Carla’s site HERE 

 

 

 

 

Hello 2018! A little late I know. There have been a few hurdles along the way but here I am jumping into the new year with enthusiasm.

photo of me by Matthew Usmar Lauder

One of my favourite place in the world is the Greek Island of Lesvos. The beauty of the island and the generosity of its people inspire me. You may already be familiar with my book, ‘My Greek Island Home’, some of you will have read about my love for the island.

I’m so excited to announce I am embarking on a new book which will feature this beautiful island home of mine once again. I am diving into this new project with every bit of my creative energy and will be sharing the results with you in 2019. I know it sounds like a long way off but time will fly.

Recently I spent a few divine days with friends on Stradbroke Island. There is nothing like chasing the summer by travelling from one island to another, I think I am an island girl at heart.

Here are some photos I took whilst I was on Stradbroke.  Thank you beautiful Edie and Lil for allowing me to capture you once again.

Let your creativity lead you into 2018 and jump for joy!

Beautiful long beaches

Edie

pondering pelicans

Lil

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I LOVE everything about flowers! I cannot live without them. I can’t resist photographing them and they are essential in my home.  I have my favourites, big blousy peonies, wild English roses, sweet smelling jasmine, hyacinths that arrive with the spring, glorious gardenias and hydrangeas, reminding me of my childhood and my Nanna.

Flower paintings have always been a favourite too, from the intricate detail of the Dutch masters to the broader strokes of the oversized blooms painted by Georgia O’Keefe.

Today I spoke to Matthew Usmar Lauder about his passion for flowers and his beautiful flower paintings. Matthew’s flower paintings move me, each stroke is passionate.

20171206-IMG_0022 snakedsmall Matthew what is it about flowers?

‘I love flowers, I consider them to be some of nature’s greatest art. I also love their perfume, especially the rose, gardenia, and orange blossom.

What’s a favourite flower?

I adore the hydrangea. I didn’t get it when I was young, I’d see them and think of dull British suburban gardens or clinging to the sterile walls of care homes. But when I looked a little closer I got them.

They are magnificent, ballsy, robust and ever so subtle in their glorious colour. They are a joy to paint their drama and sculptural dynamic is inspiring.

Is your approach to flower painting different to other subject matter?

I paint each subject in a way I instinctively feel is right. I find nature to be everything between chaos and effective balance, with that in mind I throw myself and my paint right in the middle.

You are now producing prints of your fab flowers, what made you decide to do that?

I made that decision based partly upon demand. In the past, I have sold practically every flower painting I’ve painted, (and some individual pieces I could have literally sold two or three times such was their popularity).

Also, I have a love of printmaking which started as child when I was introduced to screen printing. Then later, after completing my Degree in fine art painting, I chose to do a Masters in fine art print making.

The print reproductions I am having made now utilise the best of modern technology, which is thrilling because they are as close to the original as possible.

Follow If you would love one of Matthews beautiful prints on your wall CLICK HERE and take a look. There are a variety available in different sizes.

Follow Matthew on Instagram @offthebrush

 

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The inspiration of a ceramic bowl took me on a journey to Tasmania to meet a complete stranger and photograph his beautiful work.

Last December I found a ceramic bowl in a small gift shop in Sydney’s, Potts Point. There were in fact two, an identical smaller bowl was hidden inside the larger one that had caught my eye. I was drawn to their simplicity. I was also drawn to their perfect proportions and weight. They felt sturdy in my hands, they also felt precious.

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I decided on the smaller one as a gift for a friend and had it wrapped. I thought about the larger bowl for next few days and made the decision that if it was still in the shop on my next visit I would buy it. Thankfully it had waited on the shelf for my return.

The lovely shop assistant remembered me and gave me some written information on the ceramicist Zsolt Faludi. She told me he worked in Tasmania but he did not have a website.

On the way home to my apartment I made two decisions. One, I would be looking for an alternative gift for my friend and two, I would be going to Tasmania to meet the man who made the bowls.

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I found Zsolt’s Facebook page at 5pm on New Year’s Eve and decided to send him a private message telling him how inspired I was by my purchases. I asked him if I could come and meet him and take some photos of him, his work and his studio. I was completely taken aback when he messaged me back within a few hours saying yes, it made my New Year’s evening. I then began preparations for my first trip to Tasmania.

Meeting the man himself was a treat he was so welcoming as was his partner, Nanna Bayer. Their home and studio are set in a beautiful part of Tasmania outside Hobart called Glen Huon. They invited me to eat with, them and we sat around and chatted for some time before Zsolt took me on a tour of studio Zona.

Zsolt is originally from Hungary and moved to Tasmania in 1984, he is a bear of a man with a cheeky sense of humour. The strength of his personality is reflected in the work he creates. The proportions of each piece are perfect and feel solid and purposeful.

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He met Nanna, who is from Finland in 2010 when they were both attending a ceramics conference in Gulgong NSW. Nanna’s ceramics are beautiful, they are more feminine and delicate. Studio Zona is the result of Zsolt and Nanna coming together, a perfect fit.

I am so thrilled to have found the bowls that not only lead me to the man but also to his equally talented partner.

I love the idea that curiosity and being inspired by something small can take you on an adventure. One beautiful object led me to take a trip into the unknown.

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Thank you Zsolt for answering my message last New Year’s Eve and thank you and Nanna for being so welcoming. To see more work by Zsolt and Nanna go to their Facebook by clicking HERE. 

Follow what inspires you for it can take you everywhere.

I have been privileged to work with a lot of incredibly talented people over the years. These people have been instrumental in the expansion of my own creativity.

I am constantly inspired by my women friends. There seems to be no end to their creativity and warmth of their friendship, I look upon them as my family.

One of these fabulous woman is Isabel Ettedgui.

Isabel and I go back a long way. We first worked together on ‘The World of Interiors’ magazine. After moving on from the magazine we continued working together on various projects including CONNOLLY 

In the late 1980’s Isabel became involved with the Connolly family. She worked with them to design a chair for Joseph. JOSEPH ETTEDGUI was London’s most influential fashion retailer. Isabel and Joseph made a brilliant creative team, not only did they continue to work together on Connolly but they went on to marry. Sadly in 2010 after 20 years of marriage Joseph died and Isabel put Connolly on hold for a while.

Last November Isabel re launched the Connolly brand, a brand she has known for the last 30 years. She found a house in Mayfair’s Clifford street and put every ounce of herself into creating an amazing shop with a home on top, a massive undertaking. She pulled together a team, developed new products and designed an exciting luxury retail space that feels like a home.

What she has created is more than impressive. Everything about the shop and the merchandise in it is pure quality. Her attention to detail is exceptional and her and her staff are like a small family.

The experience is like shopping in someone’s home, it could not be any better.

To say I am proud of my friend is an understatement.

I have loved photographing the Connolly products, I am drawn to the detail and quality of every piece.

Read below what Isabel says when I asked her some questions about her new project CONNOLLY

connolly layout My favourite knits

connolly layout2 The softest leather

connolly layout3 I love this cuff detail

connolly layout4 Babette the company mascot fits in perfectly with brand Connolly

When and how did you become aware of the brand Connolly?

It was in late 1980s when I worked with the Connolly family on designing a chair for Joseph.

Can you give us a bit of info on the company and how you were inspired to become involved?

Established in 1878. I think I fell in love with the Soul of Connolly and the idea of a fourth-generation family business. And a great family. The essence of Connolly is the classic motor racing and touring dream, coupled with a strong sense of British know how and craft in the production of the finished leather that graced the seats of the first Rolls Royce, Bentley, Jaguar, Aston Martin and is still found by special request, on Ferrari Jaguar Alfa Romeo and the top classic cars. As well as amongst other notable institutions and icons like the seats of the Houses of Parliament, the desks of the British Library, the Eames chair, Concorde, the Coronation coaches of the Royal Family, to Ferrari, Alfa Romeo and the limited-edition Jaguar E type.
What has been your biggest challenge in relaunching the brand and developing its new premises?
Apart from planners and finance it has been trusting my instinct and having faith that we could make it happen.

You have a real talent in surrounding yourself with a great team. You clearly understand the importance of those people who to me feel like family. Can you tell me a little about how you go about it?

I like working with people who I have worked with before and who I trust and then add new blood in younger members who bring new ideas and different disciplines – it’s a bit like a wardrobe – strong staples and some new looks and accents. I also think women entrepreneurs prefer to create a work team family – with the same dynamics and obviously, the same problems – but it just seems to lend itself to a stronger sense of commitment and loyalty.

What has been the brands biggest achievement to date?

Opening!

You certainly know about luxury; how do you see your luxury brand developing in the next 5 years?

Honestly, I know about quality and value not luxury and I hope our customers can feel that – it’s important that customers are coming back showing their Connolly pieces from twenty years ago with pride and love. I am building the brand the old-fashioned way—relying on a close network of friends, focusing on consistent design language, high-quality products, and a strong, cohesive narrative, which takes time and deep pockets and patience. I think another two stand-alone shops maybe in Japan and somewhere by the sea… and find brilliant retail partners that know their own clientele extremely well and can and want to introduce them to Connolly in their stores.

For the most divine shopping experience visit Connolly England 4 Clifford Street London, W1S 2LG website HERE

Photography Claire Lloyd 

connolly layout6 Chunky rugged knits

connolly layout7 Wrap up in the softest cashmere

connolly layout8 Connolly shows us not just quality but also a sophisticated colour palette

connolly layout9 Perfect stripes

connolly layout10 Beautifully finished products

 

 

As I sit at my local limani I am thinking how lucky I am to be here in spring on the island of Lesvos. Above me are piercing blue skies, all around me wildflowers carpet the surrounding fields and the Aegean Sea with its crystal waters stretches before me.

There is no better place to contemplate the months ahead. I am excited to think about where I will go, what I will learn and the new experiences I will have.

Last year I chose to do something I had never done before, something exciting and a little bit scary. I booked a photographic workshop, Intrepid Naples, hosted by my lovely friend Carla Coulson.  This was a very new experience for me and it left me feeling elated and more knowledgeable not just about photography but also about myself. Check out what I experienced and some of the photos I took HERE.

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This year I am once again tempted.  Carla’s 2017 workshop is in Puglia and is a story telling workshop. To see more about the workshop click HERE. Carla is a great teacher and just loves sharing her knowledge which she does generously and with huge enthusiasm. The opportunity to capture images in such a beautiful place whilst learning would be magical.

So, I suggest you give yourself the greatest gift of all, time to tap into your creativity and improve your photography in beautiful Puglia with Carla.

I will leave you with these tempting photographs by Carla Coulson whilst you consider if her workshop is the place for you this European summer.

Enjoy!

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Carla Coulson Puglia

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All Photos Copyright Carla Coulson

In September, I took my first trip to the glorious city of Naples. My beautiful friend Carla Coulson, photographer and creative coach encouraged me to sign up to a photography workshop she was hosting there. The thought of visiting Naples for the first time and taking beautiful photographs excited me.

Photography has been something I’ve been involved in for years. I started at the early age of 18 as a junior art director and later I moved on to become a creative director and then began taking photos and filming for various clients, magazines and for my own personal projects. I loved photographing my second book My Greek Island Home, a documentation of life on the Greek Island of Lesvos.

I have never been very interested in the technical side of photography, working by instinct seems to suit me best which is probably why I waited until the digital age to throw myself into using a camera. My partner Matthew’s encouragement came in the form of my first grown up Cannon camera, the best birthday present ever and one that started me on my photographic journey.

I love to capture beautiful, simple, intimate images and I hope that if I can capture a moment that moves me that image may also be appreciated by someone else.

When I arrived in Naples I fell completely in love with the city. There was a grittiness to this historic city of many layers. The local people I met through the lens of my camera were open and friendly and didn’t mind having their photos taken, they honestly seemed to enjoy it.

Carla’s course was to be an education to me in shutters speeds and f stops, two things that I quite honestly found scary. On the first day, we were asked to stand up and introduce ourselves, giving a bit of our personal history. Standing up in front of people and speaking about myself I find completely challenging. It makes me feel like I’m a child again, I become self-conscious, I feel shaky, my stomach churns and I hear my words ringing back at me. I’m a perfectionist and with that comes a whole load of insecurities. By day two I realised that this wonderful course I’d signed myself up for was pushing me into an emotional meltdown. It was nothing to do with Carla or the way she taught it was my past, the uncomfortable years I spent at school where I found it difficult to learn in a conventional way, where I was made to feel stupid and inadequate on many occasions. While I was great at sport and at art when put me in a classroom situation where I was asked questions or given lots of information to remember I floundered. Now every cell in my body was being reminded of primary school.

This was a great realisation and as painful as it was, was what I needed for me to start to try and break these old patterns. Breaking old patterns cannot be done overnight but just by being aware I was taking first step. It took me a few days to find my equilibrium. I learnt new things not just about f stops and shutter speeds but about me. I discovered that only by putting yourself in uncomfortable situations do you grow and learn.

It was a different week to what I had imagined but it was a wonderful week. I am truly grateful to Carla for encouraging me to come along for the ride, she is a great teacher and a great inspiration.

I would like to share with you some of the images from my week in Naples. I would also like to encourage you to step out of your comfort zone in 2017 try something new, be creative, love and never forget to remain true to your unique self. Happy New Year!

A big thank you to the people of Naples.

fabric

carlas book

police

crowd scene in church

nun

hey you

red beret

local man

boy

local dog

local naples

chapel Procida nun

serious

proud of Naples

friendly local naples

 

easy riders

kids

fish

bird

waiter

smiling nun

window shopping

boy

wet

produce

bakery girl

fish shop

street life

man on a mission

 

In the spring our village priest very proudly presided over the wedding service of his only daughter, Ismini. Everyone in the village, young and old were invited to this splendid event. Our Papa was not the only clergyman in attendance, there were several more, differing in age and draped in finery according to their importance. It was a spectacular service, a visual feast.

One of the things I love about living in a Greek village is the way the community all come together for these special occasions. Everyone dresses in their Sunday best even if it is a Saturday, and there is a real sense of community love.

Our village church is something to be proud of.  Although the outside is somewhat austere the inside shines with its ornate fixtures and fittings, glitzy chandeliers and wealth of icons. The locals flooded into the church, every square inch was occupied. In the middle of it all was the bride, Ismini who shone like a jewel.

Although these occasions are full of pomp there is still a sense of Greek fun which make them all the more enjoyable.

ismini-1435 The beautiful bride

two girls Anticipation

ismini-1354 The ceremony

chandeliers, and gold and red ornamentation inside church The church

guests seated at church watching wedding

The bride and groom Bride and groom

detail of icon pendant worn by priest

Father of the bride

Bride and groom Bride and groom

Mother of the bride Mother of the bride

portrait of priest

Brother of the bride Brother of the bride

Happiness Happiness

ismini-1464 Off they go

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