In search of The Minoans, Mosaics and Lucy Jackson
Heading for Crete
I used to spend the summer months in a little village near to the ancient city of Knossos.
As soon as schools broke up in May, the four of us, my then pethara ( mother in law), my two small daughters and myself, would set off for Crete on the aptly named Minoan Lines. Leaving Athens behind in an orange haze, we headed for the quiet of the village. We always had a cabin on the boat for the night crossing in preparation for being greeted by the Cretan side of the family. Getting off the boat we would be greeted with with much gusto, pinching of the children’s cheeks in affection and warm hugs from the Aunties! After being fed and watered well and catching up on the latest Cretan scandals, we headed off to “the village”.
Potholes and Palaces
Along the way, as I tried to avoid potholes the size of craters and mad men on mopeds, we would pass the entrance to Knossos, the Minoan Palace. As the gates opened and as I looked in my rear -view mirror, I could just make out the entrance to the labyrinth as the sun caught the mirror and the temples and palace disappeared into a heat haze, as I avoided the next moped laden with the rider a few chickens in a cage on the back!
My mother in law had only been once to Knossos, even though she was brought up in “the village” and returned annually in the summer months. Dina would always comment on the queues of tourists waiting to get in to see the ruins of the great Minoan civilization which had been cobbled back together by visiting archaeologists. More a representation of what they imagined than the true art of the ancients! A wise woman. You would not believe how many ancient sites there are dotted around the Greek countryside, layed open to the Gods and consumed by nature. You just have to know where they are.
Hosing Down the House, a Bakers Oven, Being a Xeni and in Awe of the Ancients
The summers in Crete were hot, dry, and started with getting up as the sun rose to get on with household chores before the heat hit. Hosing down the yard and the floor of the house, it was the only way to keep it cool, preparing the food to take down to the baker, very resourceful to use the bakers ovens at the end of their mornings baking. You left your tray full of meat/fish with vegetables to slow roast until you returned for it on your way back from the morning swim, in exchange for a couple of drachma and a thousand thank-you’s !
From midday until 5pm it was siesta time as it was too hot to really do anything else productive, especially in August! The evenings were spent collecting snails, picking grapes and sitting in the cool village square watching the children play, whilst the men played tavli in the local kafeneion.
It was on one of those cool evenings that I decided to venture out of the village and head to Knossos to see for myself the ancient mysteries left behind, the structure created by Daedulus for King Minos to hold the minotaur, who was eventually struck down by Theseus and the buildings shrouded in mystery and mythology.
My lovely mother in law, who knew that I was a head strong xeni , (foreigner ), looked after the girls whilst I went off. She was more than happy in her role as “second mother” even though she was not too pleased I was going by myself, a young married lady with no chaperone!
It was free entrance for locals and I was honoured with being a local, albeit a xeni, as I had mastered the art of Greek and more than immersed into the culture ! When I arrived, it was simply magical, I slipped in through the gate and the evening sun light seemed to be dancing off the pictures, patterns and motifs of mosaics dotted around the site easily, easily being mistaken for dusting of gold. And so, my love of mosaics and the ancients began. When I returned to Athens, I ventured into the world of learning more about classical Greece which has become one of my lifelong passions.
I have for years said that I am going to try my hand at creating a mosaic, still holding the memories for the Cretan days but I have not really got down to learning the art as the right time hasn’t shown itself yet. Not like the wonderful Lucy Jackson, whose box of beauties arrived in the gallery last week!
Lucy Jackson is an artist and maker who creates mosaics, paintings, collages and animated films. She studied fine art at Winchester College of Art, was based in Cornwall but now lives in Portugal. Her mosaics are created from broken pottery, tiles and found objects and features a lot of birds.
Lucy says: “I have been fascinated by birds for a long time. I like the shapes they make and the way they move. I begin by making sketches of birds and then simplify the shapes and cut them from ply and then stick on broken ceramics. I really enjoy the process of mosaic making from the finding of the materials, choosing shapes and colours and never quite knowing what the end result will be!”
Lucy’s bird mosaic will be on display in the gallery soon until then, here are a few for you to enjoy!