Cloisonné Church Landscapes of the Southern Peloponnese and Mani Penninsula
With parallel careers in painting and set and costume design, I was first struck by the theatrical quality of the Mani Penninsula and the Southern Peloponnese. Covered in rocks and stones, surrounded by water, this austere landscape changes color with the brilliant light. Splashes of colorful flowers rise from fire burnt areas to capture the eye. Against this backdrop are many small and unique Byzantine style churches, constructed with awe-inspiring effort, mainly from local stone and recycled ancient material. They call these churches "Cloisonné" because brick outlines the patterns much as wire outlines the design in cloisonné enamel. Each church appears to spring and grow out of the stone, so much so that at times they are hard to locate against the light, even with binoculars.
So with a car, backpack, and paint, I set out to capture the theatrical quality of the area. The combinations of domes, cut stone, and cloisonné brick pattern work make the small churches an interesting and varied subject to draw and paint. The human scale of the buildings allows a personal relationship to develop between the artist and the environment. The location of these churches and the necessity to walk to more remote areas requires careful thought concerning my materials and use of water. Portable and direct are my most important concerns.
My style for this project developed from an effort to draw and paint, with acrylic gouache, on paper in a direct manner to capture the spiritual essence of the place. I consider these works to be a series of moments influenced by light, color, sun, rain, and fire. Each one is a puzzle waiting to be discovered. I have become passionate in my desire to record my feelings about these churches before there is too much development. I hope that I am able to share my experiences with others and interest the viewer in the spirit of the area.
Carolyn L. Ross