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John Ellison

Diakofti. Ship in harbour. Painting.

From John Ellison's 2005 Exhibition, Katoomba, NSW.


'And Then He Came To The Fountain Where The Lions Are...’. an exhibition of paintings and drawings from Athens, Kythera and Crete.
I had never travelled outside Australia and had no desire to do so. But, my companion Lyn had her mind made up. “Its now or never” she said and it sounded ominous.

I had been reading Henry Miller’s ‘Colossus Of Maroussi’ and ‘A Modern Odyssey’ by Nikos Kazantzakis, author of ‘Zorba The Greek’. The sights and sounds and smells of Crete were vivid in my minds eye, so I said “if we have to go somewhere, how about Greece”?

That was enough. Within a couple of weeks we were flying to Athens. I couldn’t believe my eyes. There really was a huge coloured world out there and it was far more imposing and beautiful than anything I had seen on television or in the travel section of the Sun Herald. I started to draw in a fever.

Athens, Kythera and Crete. The drawings piled up, averaging four or five a day. I had to draw faster and faster in order to digest the plethora of visual experiences on all sides.

Iraklio, the capital of Crete. I am drawing a fountain surrounded by four stone lions. When I finish the drawing, I cross the road and come to a building dedicated to the literary works of Nikos Kazantzakis. I wander in and see on the wall, writ large, ‘And then he came to the fountain where the lions are...’. A quote from ‘Freedom And Death’, one of Kazantzakis’ great books. I am electrified. I had just drawn the Lion Fountain.

Travel as a spiritual experience; nobody told me it could be so. I came home with 95 black and white drawings and proceeded to turn them into paintings. That is what this exhibition is about; a tribute to that marvellous country and the pagan deities that still pulse in the air.

John Ellison

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