Charmed Lives in Greece: Ghika, Craxton, Leigh Fermor
The catalogue to accompany an exhibition first held in Cyprus at the A G Leventis Gallery in 2017 which then moved to the Benaki Museum in Athens. The exhibition is on at the British Museum from March – July 2018.
The charmed lives were those led by Nikos Ghika, John Craxton and Patrick Leigh Fermor in Crete, Corfu, Hydra, Athens and the Peloponnese. Their paths first crossed in Greece in the mid 1940s and their friendship was to last five decades. There is a profusion of material – letters, notebooks, diaries and copious photographs as well as many paintings and designs by Ghika and Craxton. Joan Leigh Fermor and Barbara Ghika are ever-present, of course; other figures in the labyrinthine network of their friendships and acquaintances include Rex Warner, Stephen Spender, Steven Runciman, Niko Kazantzakis, Ann Fleming, Jock Murray, Peter Watson, Lucian Freud, George Pyschoundakis, Konstantinos Mitsotakis – a roll-call of lasting fascination.
All three men shared a joy in life, an infectious joie de vivre, and, as many will already know, PLF had a distinguished wartime career in SOE, notable especially for the audacious kidnapping of General Kreipe, the leader of the German occupying forces in Crete.