Photo from my glory days in Athens (2007), when I worked as a barefoot English teacher and moonlighted as a music promoter alongside my studies.
I’ve done a few interviews about my work in the past few years, but this one was the first to ask me about my early years as an art student and music promoter in Athens, and I was grateful for the opportunity to join the dots and explain how my artistic, esoteric, and academic interests all fit together, to give a sense of my bicultural identity (half-British, half-Greek), and some aspects of my academic work. Ronnie Pontiac‘s questions were some of the most astute and searching that I’ve been asked to answer, and I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to share some stories which have played a formative role in my view of art and academics. So if you’ve been wondering just how I ended up with so many strings to my bow, then this interview reveals the hidden connections! Here’s a small taster:
Having grown up in Corfu and London, what was studying in Athens like, personally and artistically?
Athens is a city of contradictions. The Parthenon’s shadow falls on a stinking concrete kaleidoscope, as horrifying as it is magnificent. As the crisis has taken its toll, it has turned into a hellhole with small pockets of hope scattered through the concrete jungle.
When I moved to Athens in 1998, for me it was Dorothy’s return to Kansas, as I was never able to fit in culturally in the UK. That’s one of the main reasons I returned to Greece to study. Back then, the underground Athens I wanted to experience was reaching the tail-end of its glory days – but there were musical and artistic happenings everywhere, and I fell in with a rock music group, helping backstage and with promotion, so I got to enjoy the lifestyle I’d craved and make connections that later led me to organize more professional events.
Artistically things weren’t so good. For me this was a time of experimentation and exploration. Now, in Greek art schools, Modernism still dominates almost every aspect of aesthetics and technique, so we were expected to emulate this and aim for abstracted techniques. Anything outside of that was frowned upon. Ever since I was still at school, I’d had a penchant for surrealism and a deep interest in symbolic expression, and I went to art college hoping to hone my technique and draftsmanship. Instead, I was constantly told to forget my preferred, unfashionable style and focus on learning the “accepted” approach. Meanwhile….Click here to read the full, illustrated interview.