Denis Taylor Artist and writer

Denis Taylor Artist Writer and Curator of TUBES art Gallery

Aegina island

Aegina Island in the Saronic Gulf Greece
Palia Hora Old Town in Greece

My Life as an English Artist on a Greek island. Part 2

My Life as an English Artist on a Greek island…the Van and Off we go..Part 2 of 23

The day arrived when the Greek Odyssey was to begin.

The transport for the Greek Odyssey

“…The previous three months, after my sudden resignation from my Company, passed quickly and the weeks were filled with logistical planning and lots of thinking about all aspects about paintings both technical and intellectual. My brother Barry, who had volunteered to drive me and my Art boards to Greece had meticulously worked out a route across Europe mainland from Calais France to Piraeus in Greece from where we would catch a Ferry to Aegina island in the Saronic Gulf a mere 19 km from that famous Greek port. I’d spent two weeks on Aegina in 1978, that was where the painting of my first born child was first sketched in the garden of the villa we had rented for two weeks several years before I now found myself returning to Greece. I had decided to take the painting of my child to Greece and finish it where it had started, that was in the villa where I had took my family on holiday.…”

…The villa was tucked away in the forest on the south west part of Aegina island and owned by the family of my Greek Dentist in Manchester. That is how that Greek island started to play its part in my odyssey in Greece. It was an island that the moment I had stepped onto it I felt at home. Returning to it a decade after my first visit – was a joyous thought.

Aegina Town - my life as an artist on a Greek island

“my target was to paint thirty original works of art.”

I had packed my few remaining personal belonging into a neat package and prepared thirty pieces of Masonite cut to size in my factory. This was a brand of hardboard that was the treated and with oil and hardened in a low heat oven over time. The sizes varied from 120cm x 240 cm (6 ft x 4ft) to 120xm x 60cm ( 4 ft x 2ft). And I managed to find a 50 meter roll of quality quite heavy cartridge paper that was 180cm long (6ft). I’d bought oil paints and thinners in quantity and a host of brushes of various sizes.

My target was to paint thirty original works of art, enough for an exhibition and use the cartridge paper for experimentation. Everything was loaded into the Van the night before we were to set off. We planned to go on the first break of day of the first day of Spring (which was the first April in 1988 and a Friday. We had calculated two days of non-stop driving to reach Aegina and two days driving back to the UK for Baz and Ged. Baz enrolled our good friend (Ged) as the second relief driver and I was to be the map reader.

I locked the apartment and posted the keys through the letterbox of a locked door. I walked over to the rented van where Barry and Ged were waiting for me. “OK, lets get on the road” Baz said. And off we went. Our plan was simple – Barry had worked out an exact and efficient road map which we would follow to the letter. First we would drive from Manchester in northern England to Dover to catch the ferry to Calais.

Ferry to France - My Life as an artist on a Greek island

The drive was uneventful and after a casual trip in fine fresh sunny weather we arrived at Dover well in time to catch the last Ferry over to Calais at 11pm. Having pre-booked the ticket for the vehicle it was a long wait before we drove into the commercial transport area of the ferry. It was my suggestion that we ate a good evening meal on the ferry as it would be probably some time before we would stop for a break. A few hours later the Ferry Docked at Calais. We readied ourselves and in good time climbed into the Van. Barry at the wheel and Ged to my left on the double front seat. I asked Barry for the road. The excitement was palpable. Barry looked at me with a look of shock and horror.

“Fuck.” He said out loud – “ I’ve left the map and plan on the kitchen table at home.”

At first I laughed as did Ged then reality kicked in. The fact was that we didn’t know which way we should go as we left the ferry struck home. “Ged open the dashboard cupboard” Ged opened the door and reached in he pulled out an AA road map book and handed it to me. “I thumbed through the map book at Dover – and soon realised this was A German language published AA book. This was going to be a trip full of mistakes and miss turns as all the named major cities where in German. And Barry could only remember the main stops in English. The first job was to identify the first City to aim for in French.The Ferry opened its huge doors and we drove off in a confused state – Someone had to make a decision. “Turn Left Baz.” I said more in hope than in knowledge.

The Odyssey had begun in a total panic.

Click here for Part One

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