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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.

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

The first time I saw a photo of Gin Head I was completely blown away and so it seems was Scottish photographer Albert Watson. His first spotted it 20 years ago, when he was photographing at Tantallon Castle. He was intrigued by the way the then active research centre sat on its own promontory. It’s hard not only drawn to the 1943 buildings, significant survivors of the Admiralty base but also to the dramatic landscape that surrounds it.

Gin Head was a 1940’s radar station, a culturally significant landmark which sits in the wild and wonderful landscape of a cliff edged promontory. It is situated 30 miles from Edinburgh in North Berwick and has rare heritage, history and sweeping views over the Firth of Fourth. It provides a sea front view of East Lothian’s most stirring landscapes. Gin Head’s nearest neighbour is the magnificent Tantallon Castle, perched on the cliff top to the east just 300 meters away. Directly in front of Gin Head is the Bass Rock, an enormous barnacled knuckle of rock that thrusts a hundred meters up from the sea, it’s a world nature reserve and home to the largest colony of gannets in the world.

albert watson, christie turlington, clint eastwood,sade Albert WatsonChristy Turlington photographed by Albert Watson for Harpers Bazaar, fashion editor, Joanna Hillman.

GIN HEAD 7 TANTALLON CASTLE 2b crop snaked Gin Head 

albert watson, christie turlington, clint eastwood,sade2 Clint Eastwood and Sade photographed by Albert Watson

Through recent marketing of Gin Head, we have connected with four serious buyers, all of whom have marveled at the awe-inspiring landscape of natural forces. They each have their own take on the best way to use and adapt the approved plans and are busy completing their pre-purchase investigations.

Among the potential purchasers – a Scot who has known and coveted Gin Head for many years – is one of the world’s pre-eminent fine art, fashion and commercial photographers.  His photographs have always inspired me. Albert Watson’s images of Alfred Hitchcock, Clint Eastwood and Steve Jobs are defining images from a four-decade career containing a wealth of distinctive work. Watson spotted the potential of Gin Head more than 20 years ago and has visionary ideas for establishing a photographic foundation incorporating gallery, workshop, archive and residential components.  The creative brilliance of a globally renowned photographer combined with the elemental natural forces of the East Lothian surroundings is a delectable prospect. Whoever succeeds in acquiring Gin Head and applying their vision to such a wild and wonderful environment, will take their place in Scotland’s rich architectural heritage.

THE BASS ROCK snaked The Bass Rock

How did I come to own part of Scottish heritage?

About 10 years ago I was at a friend’s dinner party in Scotland where I was introduced to a hearty Scot named Robin. He and his wife arrived late to the dinner dressed head to toe in insect costumes. I can’t remember now exactly why they were dressed this way but I do remember enjoying the madness of it all. At the time I had no idea that our meeting would lead me to Gin Head.

Not long after the dinner party and meeting, Robin contacted me, he was eager to hear more about my new apartment, a large project I had recently completed in London. I love building projects and designing beautiful, light living spaces. My new home was constructed on the rooftop of an old printing factory in Clerkenwell, in London’s East End. I had bought the air space and created one large lateral living space. Robin was impressed by my London home and asked me if I would be interested in doing something similar in Scotland.

About a year after our initial conversation Robin contacted me to say a property he had been interested in for years had become available and wanted to run it by me. That property was Gin Head and when I saw the photos I immediately understood his enthusiasm for it. This visually compelling and breathtaking site hooked me too and I joined forces with Robin and his partner Peter to acquired it. I was now, part owner of 5 acres of great natural beauty and a custodian of Scottish history.

TANTALLON CASTLE b snaked Tantallon Castle

We chose architects Lazzarini Pickering from Rome for their international reputation as cutting-edge world class practitioners and their ethos of sensitivity towards the landscape. Carl and Claudio are also dear friends so I knew they would appreciate the site and love the brief. The brief was ‘Tracy Island meets James Bond’

With Lazzarini Pickering superb scheme we now have full planning permission for the conversion of the existing buildings to a spectacular modern fortress. Carl and Claudio’s extraordinary vision, has created a building of grand spaces, expansive staircases, magnificent reception rooms, massive skylights, great sheets of glass that look out on internal courtyards offering wrap-around transparency. This is idealized 3rd millennium living, with reference to Inigo Jones, Palladio. The approved plans are spectacular – 26,000 sq. ft. of beautiful, flexible real estate set in five acres of rugged coastal landscape.  Simply breathtaking.

Since my first meeting with Robin much time has passed and our lives have changed. I sold my London penthouse to Dame Zaha Hadid, who lived in it until her recent death. I now live between Sydney, London and the Greek island of Lesvos. Robin too has moved on discarding his insect costume and thrown himself into something Scots are very keen on, golf. He was Captain at Muirfield from 2013 until 2015 and in his own words ‘now in glorious retirement.’

There is one thing however that has not changed, that is the culturally significant landmark, Gin Head. For more information on Gin Head click HERE

GIN HEAD &THE BASS ROCK bsnaked Gin Head and The Bass Rock

GIN HEAD & TANTALLON CASTLE CROP bsnaked Gin Head and Tantallon Castle

 

In October I received an email from Mikela, founder of Yoga Satya and the words that jumped off the page and captured my immediate attention were ‘paradise awaits’.

These words accompanied by some enticing images and Mikela, of course, were all it took for me to change my already confirmed travel plans. This in itself was no mean feat but one I considered worthwhile. My trusty assistant Amy and Penny, my new travel co-ordinator were wonderful rearranging and booking everything.

I first attended Mikela’s classes some years ago when she taught at the Boy Charlton in Sydney. Her classes combined traditional philosophy with great instruction. Those two things along with Mikela’s knowledge and genuine care for her pupils made her classes a stand out.

Mikela held the retreat on the island of Koh Tao, a magical island in the Gulf of Thailand, a two hour boat trip from the island of Koh Samui. When I stepped off the crowded boat on to the noisy pier I was immediately surrounded by confusion but was quickly scooped up by our calm teacher and a trusty driver and transported up into the hills and beyond to Baan Talay, a blissful hideaway retreat.

Baan Talay consists of several Thai style bungalows set in natural tropical landscape and is perched above the crystal clear waters of Ao Leuk Bay. It’s a magical spot.

I just fell in love with the view from my simple room. I kept the doors that led on to my small balcony open so that the sound of the ocean was first thing I heard when I woke and last thing I heard before my eyes closed at night. The sea is one of my favourite sounds. There were other sounds too, sounds of the cicadas’ and geckos, birdsong and the rustling of local creatures in the surrounding bush.

Dev the owner and his staff were all lovely and attentive and provided us with fresh delicious meals each day and there was also transport available for trips around the island.

The Sharla, where we practiced our daily yoga was a large open hut nestled in the natural tropical landscape with magnificent sweeping views over the sea. It was the perfect place to witness the beginning and the end of each day.

We practiced for two hours in the morning and two hours in the evening. The classes were calm but for me they came with some challenges. At times it was tough and I have to admit to having the urge during one morning class of running from the Sharla screaming. However, thankfully, I pulled myself together and breathed through it. The result was worth it.

For me my time was to short, I would have been happy to retreat from the outside world for much longer but I know from experience it’s better to leave wanting more.

Mikela generously shared with us pearls of wisdom for which I will be forever grateful and I think it’s fair to say we all as her students benefitted from her big heart.

Once again I am grateful for another beautiful life experience and the chance to have shared it with new like minded souls.

I hope you enjoy some of the snaps below of my time at Baan Yalay and if you ever feel like retreating with Mikela just click on the link HERE

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My first trip to Istanbul was in 1983, I had travelled from Australia and was on my way to start a new life in London via the Greek Islands and Turkey. In the short time I was thereI found it to be both exotic and very foreign. I returned to Istanbul again in 1994 this time visiting many of the usual tourist spots. I found the city to be inspiring.

Since the publication of my book My Greek Island Home I have met many new people and some of them have become good friends. Two of these friends are Turkish and live in Istanbul, they love Lesvos, the Greek Island I call home. They visit the island regularly and we have developed a lovely friendship, one I cherish. They have invited us to their city many times and in May, after 21 years Matthew and I headed back to Istanbul.

Istanbul is a city of many layers. It’s a sophisticated city, a rich city, a poor city, a city of history, of culture, of tradition of modernity. A city with high energy. We loved staying at Soho House with its fabulous combination of old and new architecture. Our friends showed us their city and there is nothing better than being shown a city by a local. A boat trip on the Bosphorus revealed architecture on the waters edge I could not have imagined. Baroque style palaces sat closely beside charming wooden chalet styled houses. East certainly meets west in this city.

Here are a few images from my trip. I really hope we will be returning again soon to wander the streets and spend more time with our dear friends. Thank you dear friends you know who you are xx

istanbul may 2015

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Spring has been far to long coming this year. The only hint is the blossom decorating the fruit trees. Stealing from trees that are just awakening from the long harsh winter months seems almost cruel although placing these pretty budding stems into found glass bottles brings the house to life. I love the way they fit so beautifully in front of the dynamic landscape painted by Matthew Usmar Lauder you can go here to purchase this landscape, a taste of our Greek Island Home.

untitled shoot-7993-6 Landscape by Matthew Usmar Lauder

 

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Last Saturday my beautiful niece, Jessica Lloyd married the man of her dreams. For me it is hard to believe Jess is even old enough to contemplate marriage, but old enough she is and the years since I first held her in my arms have passed far too quickly. Jess and I have always had a strong bond, perhaps it’s because she was the first of my nieces and nephews to arrive or maybe it’s quite simply because we share the same star sign, Virgo. Whatever the reason I love her dearly. From a young age I would take her off on little adventures and she would come for sleepovers when I was home from abroad. I used to phone her to ask if there were crocodiles under her bed, this always made her screech with laughter. Jess has always been determined, independent, caring and fun with a great sense of humor. She was a lovely little girl and now she is a beautiful woman. I captured a few intimate moments before she took my brothers arm and walked across a paddock to stand before the man who will take her on the next big adventure in her life. She looked so beautiful and I was so proud. The man of Jessica’s dreams will be revealed in the next post. Enjoy!

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I love peaking into other people’s homes. I don’t mind if they are old or new, occupied or abandoned. When I lived in London I always found it a pleasure to explore the local area by foot, especially on summer evenings. I delighted in the glimpses I got through open curtains and shutters into peoples lives. I have to admit to getting huge enjoyment from viewing property with estate agents. I  also had lots of fab, opportunities to see beautiful homes when I worked for The World of Interiors magazine, a real treat.  For me the best properties are the most neglected ones. I long to mend them and make them simple and beautiful. This I have done with many properties in London, Sydney and more recently in Greece. You can check some of them out here. Besides taking photos, making light, simple, serene spaces is my passion. Here on the Greek island of Lesvos there are many beautiful houses in need of love attention and I can’t help but want each and every one of them and if I could I would have them all but, I must be realistic. Recently I took a trip with some gorgeous Turkish friends to a nearby village where we checked out some houses. The local barber who I had met a few years ago when photographing for my book My Greek Island Home, see here, kindly showed us around one house. Below are a few details that grabbed me. Enjoy!

IMG_3605 The local barber. I’m loving the combination of  geometrical shapes and checks      

copyright Claire Lloyd

IMG_3608 A simple bedroom. The houses here all have little shelves usually displaying an icon or three     

copyright Claire Lloyd

IMG_3654 Striped cotton fabric is stretched over a window for privacy     

copyright Claire Lloyd

IMG_3615 I just LOVE the way this fabric has it’s own natural flow and looks so etherial back lit

copyright Claire Lloyd

IMG_3620 Everything here sits in it’s place untouched for I wonder how long

copyright Claire Lloyd

IMG_3617 A simple detail 

copyright Claire Lloyd

IMG_3655 Signs of life highlighted by back lighting

copyright Claire Lloyd

IMG_3636 My favourite detail, delicate fabric lit from behind and tied with a colour co-ordinated ribbon

copyright Claire Lloyd

IMG_3633 The green of the window and the duvet work with the soft colour of the hanging curtain

copyright Claire Lloyd

 

Usually the images I post of  My Greek Island Home (check out my book) are in colour but Greek village life is just as beautiful in black and white. Enjoy my wandering around the village.

IMG_8650_1a Delicious handmade mazipan flowers by the woman in the village co-operative

IMG_3401a A villager eturnig at dusk along the track laden with hay

IMG_5953a A handfull of newly picked fresh wild asparagus

IMG_2325a Panayiota and Stratos  sitting happily together in their kafenio

IMG_0803a Fresh bread being made in the local bakery

IMG_1247a Wash day

_MG_7786a A quite moment for the late Charalambos

20091011_RALITSA LAN`D_4528a A plate of  grapes just picked from a neighbours vine

_MG_4355a Preparation for the olive picking

_MG_1688a Crocheting lace, the village women are always busy

_MG_5671a Bagging up the olives

_MG_4209a Home baking means hands on work

_MG_8180a Watching the world go by

_MG_1705_1a Things turn up in the most unlikely places

DSC00124a The original kitchen in our house

Vasso's mums handa Freshly picked vine leaves which will be used for making dolmades

 

 

 

I photographed a little peak of Matthew and my life here on the island of Lesvos for You Magazine a couple of months ago and here it is. Thank you  Clare Nolan for loving our lifestyle and Fiona McCarthy for  your kind words. Greece is the word 1

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