I was privileged to discover Corfu in 1961, when tourism had only a minimal footprint on the island, and its traditional existence was relatively intact in spite of having been through two foreign occupations during WW II. I wasn’t an artist when I came, but what I witnessed at that special time inspired me to try to capture it on paper; to draw a scene or a character requires more than simply raising and clicking a camera. When you use the human eye, rather than the camera, you have to live it, and be it, absorbing what you are observing. At the same time, the subject, less aware of being observed, is more natural. In this way I developed an eye like a camera memorizing the scene so as not to embarrass myself or the subject I was trying to draw.
The town then was riddled with little taverns, and workshops like the holes in a gorgonzola cheese. Small shops sold all the necessities from cheeses, cold meats, wine from the barrel. Customers brought their own bottles and jars to be filled. No plastic bags, everything wrapped in a piece of newspaper; everything recycled automatically then. Vegetables shops displayed heaps of colourful vegetables (locally grown); there were no refrigerators so no frozen foods, and the fish fresh from the sea around the island.
The countryside began at the edge of the town just beyond Platitera Monastery; the main road – full of potholes- snaking its way through the market gardens, and cottages each with their own vine trellises, and then the olive groves, all the way northwards offering magical vistas at every bend, especially in Springtime with the Asphodels like foam under the trees.
With only 10 cars on the island, the traffic was made up of horse drawn-carts, donkeys ridden by village ladies, followed by sheep and goats; women carried bundles on their heads, I am so grateful for the experience of Corfu as it was then, rather than it is now that
the island has changed so much under the influence of tourism and development; it’s ’richness’ distorted by money and its spirit by the three ‘S’s‘: Sun, Sea & Sex.

Theresa Nicholas

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