Traveling Classroom Foundation
Tuesday October 17th 2017

Creativity and the Stone House

What is creativity? It is the act of turning a unique idea into something we can see, hear, smell, touch, or taste. We think of great works of art — paintings, music, dance, and so on. And we sometimes recall famous creative people. However, anyone can be creative in one way or another. While traveling in western Crete, we discovered a good example of this. In the beach town of Kalyves, we turned inland towards the White Mountains (Lefkas Ori). On a hill not far from Kalyves we came upon a whimsical wonderland called Koumos.

The first view of Koumos surprises everyone with its strange architecture and odd stone scupture The Koumos chapel surprises every visitor with its strange appearance

 

The little chapel is only big enough for a few people The chapel is only large enough for a few people at a time

 

The chapel interior, lighted by a chandelier made from a small tree, is as odd as the outside -- but it contains all the necessary religious icons The little chapel contains all that is needed for Sunday church services

Koumos is imagination made real. It all started in 1990, when the wife of Giorgos Khavaledakis suggested that he build a stone table in the garden behind their house. Giorgos thought about the project, and came up with a fanciful way to accomplish it — encrusting the sturdy supports for a stone tabletop with small stones and colorful bits of ceramic.

Old-fashion flour mill with fantasy decorations Antique (but functional) mill with fantasy stone work

This inspired him to attempt other projects, which became an obsession over the next 14 years. He carried selected stones and rocks down from the mountains to create all manner of distinctive buildings and artwork.

All the buildings in the complex are a fantasy of mosaics Buildings are covered with hand-placed stones and found objects

 

Mosaic stone benches around an olive tree inside a shady stone tower with an open roof Stone benches around tree in an open stone tower with decorated walls

Intricate stone mosaics and fantastical sculptures cover the house, taverna, chapel, a small museum and every other building in the complex.

A fortress-like structure across the square from the taverna A fortress-like structure across the square from the taverna

Although he was not a trained artist or architect, the creations of Giorgos Khavaledakis are delightful and strangely compelling. In fact, they are similar in some ways to the work of Antoni Gaudi (1852 – 1926), the best known practitioner of Catalan Modernism.  Because of his designs, Gaudi’s name was transformed into the word gaudy, meaning extravagantly bright or showy.

Goudi's Sagrada Familia cathedral sometimes appears to be melting Goudi’s famous Sagrada Familia cathedral sometimes appears to be melting

 

Goudi's chameleon sculpture in colorful mosaic Goudi’s colorful mosaic “El Drac” (dragon) in a public park

 

This crocodile is one of many animal sculptures at Koumos Quirky crocodile is one of many Khavaledakis sculptures at Koumos

No one questions the creativity of Gaudi, nor should they question that of Giorgos Khavaledakis — a self-made artist.

 

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