It´s with a heavy heart that I am leaving Fourni village in the Cretan mountains this evening. Reluctant to let go of the beautiful time warp that I was in for the past 17 days, I am scribbling down notes, memories, favourite moments and reminders of what to take with me from this experience, filling several pages of my diary (a picture of two senior lion brothers exchanging a moment of tenderness on its front cover, one of my favourites from a wildlife photography exhibition I got to see in London at the end of last year).
I stumbled upon this residency by mere chance when browsing through “resartis.org” a few weeks back, following a strong need to spend time alone and focus on composing. Little did I know that it was like it was made for me and that it would meet exactly what I was in dire need of.
“Event Horizon Residencies” are run by artist Julienne Dolphin. A force of nature, Julienne built and restored a number of sustainable, mostly off-grid places around Fourni and the nearby town of Neapolis. I stayed in her “gypsie caravan” overlooking Fourni, so perfect in taste, size and functionality that I am more than inspired to create a permanent home like this for myself in “real life”! (In fact, a favourite book I encountered up there was "How to live off-grid" by Nick Rosen - not long now I would say .... )
Every morning, I cycled up and down and up and down the hills again (passing the chickens that are fed with everyones´ compost - what a brilliant recycling system!) on my way to the studio - a beautifully arranged array of containers in the middle of a vast field of wild flowers.
Having abandoned my phone and the internet from day one (Julienne introduced me to my neighbour Kostis straight away, son of the village´s central cafe, who would watch out for me and help me in emergencies, which I was very grateful for), I felt like I was left completely to my own devices up there. The kind of headspace that can´t but not lead to a very inspiring and productive composing practice.
On a day off I would hang around Fourni village, watch the locals at Nora´s cafe (especially entertaining was the guy selling vegetables from the boot of his van, going around the village and parking in the middle of the road, causing traffic jams, all the while advertising his range of vegetables and fruit through a loudspeaker), go for strolls around the mountains or cycle to the neighbouring picturesque town of Castelli.
I think what impressed me most of all is the fact that this folk just will not be phased by an ever speedier pace of life and stress levels ( and this totally rubbed off on me, I became so much slower, calmer and present!) and how kind people were to me.
From Julienne, who brought me for swims, organised a jam session with local musicians or came running to the rescue when I ran out of gas or managed to entangle the bike chain, to Kostis, who always made sure that I am ok, over to his mother and everyone at the cafe as well as the musicians I got to meet and jam with. It´s hard to believe that a village like this still exists.
I am so whole-heartedly grateful that I won this time with my bike, my book, composing, the mountains and the villagers. At the same time, I feel concerned about the fact that happiness springs up so easily once the phone and the internet lines go off and you can just be there. And yet, our private as well as professional lives are so centered around them ... a feast for thought!