Christoforos Asimis at his gallery

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Christoforos Asimis at his gallery
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Image by Burningphotography
Today was the earliest day yet for us on our trip. No time for the daily breakfast on the patio as we had a taxi scheduled to pick us up at 8:40am to take us to Fira. As usual the driver was there exactly on time in an unmarked car. We were a little nervous it would actually make it to Fira since the gas tank was on empty. No troubles though and we were dropped off right on the door step of Budget rental car. We were given a free upgrade to an automatic to a stylish old yellow Peugeot. It came with a gas saving feature which required the passenger or driver to hold in the A/C button in order for it to work. We took turns. For the past few days of walking and traveling around the island we were pretty nervous about driving. There aren’t many rules of the road posted here. There is not a single traffic signal on the entire island and turn signals only to be used by tourists. The streets are extremely small and tour buses, scooters and pedestrians all vie for the spot they deserve, which is the middle of the road. Amazingly, it all works without horns or dirty looks or anyone getting mad. The first 30 minutes after picking up the car in the middle of the major city had us wanting to return the car and taxi back to peace of our patio. We’re glad we stuck with it. We happened to pass a bakery our tour guide from yesterday recommended so for the sake of a break and lack of breakfast we quickly pulled over and got a snack. We quickly got off the main road and without a clue where we were headed ended up in Kamari beach. We passed a local church in the town which we heard was festival day today and almost stopped to take pictures. We’re glad we didn’t because on the way back we saw them carrying out an open casket full of flowers. This was not the festival we thought. Kamari beach ended up being a nice surprise and our first black sand beach. A little calmer, we headed back in the speedy Peugeot and just drove aimlessly for awhile to see what we could find. We knew today was the only day to visit Fira and to see a couple of galleries we had heard about long ago and couldn’t wait to visit. We headed back to brave Fira and were able to find parking on the outskirts of town. Our first stop after fighting through the cruise tour groups was the Metropolitan Orthodox Church. We were hoping to see it as a local artist we had learned about, Christoforos Asimis had spent 7 years of his life painting the frescos. We were able to see it and snapped a few pictures. We knew he had a gallery near by on the same street as the church. We spent a good hour walking up and down this street trying to find it. Given in to exhaustion and hunger we had our first gyro at Mc Daniels. A knock off of Jack Daniels that serves Gyros. Confusing but good. Full of energy we headed back to the gallery next door to the church which was a different name that we knew was Christoforos’ and we came to learn that it recently changed names. We met Christina who was so funny and helpful she explained that Christoforos had just built a new gallery/studio/home outside of town. We bought a print of one our favorite paintings only to have Christina crack up that our names are Kelly and Brandon just like the couple from 90210. She was going to call ahead to the gallery and tell them that the tv stars were coming for a visit. We drove out to the gallery and outside the gleaming white building stood Christoforos who greeted us with a huge smile and and handshake. Christina had in fact called ahead but not with the impression we were any kind of stars but two Texans who had headed to Fira to see his work. Christoforos gave us a personal tour of his gallery and would explain his process for the paintings and the evolution of his work. He even let a secret out as to how he was able to paint the huge dome of the church from a scallofding that was only and armsreach away. He is a legend and superstar on this island and to have this personal attention was an incredible gift. We had already bought a print at the other gallery and with the originals were way outside our salaries, we decided to buy a small sculpture that was done by Eleni Kolaitou. We told him we were really nervous that it was going to make it back to Texas and they assured us it would be wrapped carefully. A few minutes passed with Christoforos returning holding a taped up brown package that he presented us and then threw to the ground. All of us, even the gallery assistant, were jaw dropped in panic with Christoforos exploding in huge laughter. The package bounced across the marble floor, was picked up by him and tossed over to the desk. He picked it up and shook and said See! It won’t break. He laughed and laughed at our expressions but assured us it was ok. With a long good by to Christoforos we headed around the perimeter of the island only to make it back to Oia with barely any gas left. We had dinner at our favorite restaurant from our first day and came back to enjoy a glass of wine and to watch the big nightly event of the sunset. Tonight’s was a good one without a cloud in the sky. The rest of the night was spent lounging on out patio. Brandon was able to write this post while Kelly took a nap in the lounge chair. In all, I’m not sure a better day could be had.

Melanie 3_PhotobyErycaGreen
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Image by gointernationalgroup.com photo gallery
FEYST13 presents Melanie Horsnell is an Australian Singer Songwriter, who’ll be touring Malaysia in October. Contact us at openmickl [at] gmail [dot] com for inquiries.

Biography:

Melanie first picked up a guitar at the age of five, learning the classical and flamenco styles of play, and began busking at Manly Beach at the age of ten. By her late teens, she still hadn’t really thought of continuing her music career – she had her heart set on managing Woolworths – until she won a spot on The Northern Composure CD and national songwriting competitions. From there she headed to London for a year, busking on a daily basis and working on her songwriting skills.

Back home, Melanie began her residency at the Excelsior Hotel in Glebe in 2000 and became regarded as one driving forces behind Sydney’s blossoming "NuFolk" movement. Over the years at the Excelsior, Melanie performed with some remarkable artists including Paul Greene, Andy Clockwise, Bertie Blackman, peregrine, Tim Ireland and Wesley Carr, while at the same time played host to many emerging artists, most notably Laura Imbruglia. Her residency continued for 4 years, but there were larger things afoot for the young songstress.

In 2001, Melanie independently released her first EP, Don’t Know What to Say, followed the next year her second EP Magic Mirror (produced by Garth Porter), which was soon picked up by radio across the country and led to Melanie signing with Shock Publishing worldwide. Soon after, Melanie was approached to write songs for popular children’s show The Saddle Club and to score the soundtrack for the film Love in the First Degree.

In 2003, Melanie began work on her debut album, The Adventures of…, again with Garth Porter behind the desk. Its first single "Birds" earned Melanie high rotation on the Triple J network.

In 2004, she signed to Rounder records in Europe, after a demo of The Adventures of… found its way into the hands of Bert Pijpers of Rounder Records. The Adventures Of… was released in The Netherlands, Germany and the UK – in February 2005, the album was released in rest of Europe. Melanie even did a crash course in French to record the French version of the beatlesque pop gem "I Just Want Some Love" which helped The Adventures Of… wind up as feature album on national radio in France that year. Having made no less than four tours of Europe over the years, she also played to a packed house at The Esplanade in Singapore in early 2005.

Her Australian fans were satisfied when they finally saw the release of her album The Adventures of… in September 2005 through Inflatable Girlfriend Records/MGM. Melanie has also managed many Australian tours, often with her band "the Inflatable Girlfriends" (ironically made up of male musicians), as support for The Frames, Josh Pyke, Bernard Fanning (Powderfinger), Lou Rhodes (Lamb) and Jason Mraz.

Melanie has supplied vocals for several songs used in television commercials, including McHappy Day, Johnnie Walker, Huggies, Women’s Weekly, Bonds (company) and National Grid plc (in the United States). In addition, Melanie and Elliot Wheeler came
together in the side project "Forever Thursday," with Melanie as the lead singer on the song "How Can It Be", music for a J.C. Penney advertisement shown during the 2007 Oscars.

In 2008 Melanie went back into the studio with producer Paul Mckercher (Augie March, Magic Dirt, Little Birdy, Eskimo Joe) to lay down 12 new tracks for her album Complicated Sweetheart. The first single from the album features a track "Mary Mary" and two bonus songs, "Christmas in the suburbs" and The Saints song "Massacre", and was released in July 2008. "Mary Mary" received immediate airplay on National Youth Broadcaster Radio Triple J and also FBi Radio, RRR and a number of other stations. Complicated Sweetheart was released in Australia on 6 September 2008 through Inflatable Girlfriend Records/MGM.

It was around 2000, that independent music entrepreneur and promoter Jasmine Low of Go International Group first started attending gigs at the Excelsior. She became a regular and after relocating back to Kuala Lumpur in 2003, started off her own series of gigs called ‘Valhalla Open Mic’ and ‘Doppelganger Open Mic’ – she says, inspired by Melanie Horsnell. Jasmine and Melanie kept in touch and in October 2013, Melanie would play her first Malaysian Tour.

Melanie is currently touring Europe made Pozzible by a crowd funding exercise.

References:
1.^ Iain Shedden, "Musician hits high note in rural retreat", The Australian, 25 May 2012.
MySpace: myspace.com/melaniehorsnell

Some of her hits:
Kiss you again myspace.com/melaniehorsnell/music/song/kiss-you-again-494…
I Just Want Some Love myspace.com/melaniehorsnell/music/song/i-just-want-some-l…

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