Spending the vacations in Greece can be more than just sun, fun, and beach. During my recent trip to Crete I visited the home and studio of a Greek artist named Manousos Chalkiadakis. Manousos is a painter, photographer, ceramicist, and a very welcoming host. Guests are welcome to visit his home and studio in a little village in western Crete whenever they like. The artist opens the doors and invites you to experience his home, his studio, his work. But it won’t feel like a touristy thing. In good Greek tradition you will be offered a coffe, maybe some sweets and you feel like a friend not a foreigner.
The village of Paidochori lies on rolling hills overlooking the Aegean. Half way between Chania and Rethymno in western Crete, the village is a remote refuge for creative minds. Manousos’ home and studio are tucked up on a hill and a little sign saying ‘Ceramic Studio’ hints at the right address. Stepping into the artist’s home does not feel intimidating as you are welcomed like an announced guest and friend. Manousos will take you through his premises in an old Cretan building. During the tour he tells the story about the house and you get a notion of the Cretan lifestyle on the countryside. Moreover, you will encounter the artist’s works throught his eclectic home.
Manousos Chalkiadakis is a known Greek artist. His focus lies on ceramics, paintings, and photography. In fact he was painting right when I arrived. As a lover of handmade ceramics I was particularly drawn to his ceramics work. But first I visited his private home. The house is an old stone building with fireplaces, wooden stairs, decorated with kilims and art. It features carvings from past centuries and boasts with a spacious terrace overlooking the village and the lush hills. You can even spot the sea at the horizon.
Opposite of the house is his ceramic studio. Fully equipped with a kiln and lots of work in progress as well as finished pieces, the studio is like a treasure trove for ceramic lovers. Manousos’ work is often inspired by Greek tradition, ancient Greek artifacts, as well as Greek life and nature. Ceramic pomegranates, boats, houses, as well as vases inspired by ancient figurines, Cycladic idols and ancient teetotums are among his pieces. There are also very contemporary looking pieces in his collection: The ‘Tree’ is inspired by nature and features a handmade ceramics trunk with a wired treetop.
Visiting Manousos Chalkiadakis in Crete is a beautiful insight into the life and work of a Greek artist. It is also a great excuse to trade one day of sunbathing for a unique experience. I mean how often do we get the chance to visit an artist’s home and studio? Especially in a country like Greece. So if you ever end up in Crete, enrich your itinerary with such a visit. You won’t regret it. And chances are you will leave his studio empty-handed. I did not. I brought back a wonderful handmade vase inspired by an ancient Cretan figurine. Better than any other cheap souvenir from the regular shops! More about the artist’s work HERE.
Photography/iPhone photography by Igor Josifovic