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My Greek Island Home - Claire Lloyd

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The tang of salt in the air. Sunlight sparkling on clear blue water. Pomegranate seeds glistening like jewels in your palm.

Australian artist, designer and photographer Claire Lloyd had a successful career in London, a beautiful apartment and a life filled with excitement and travel. However, she was beginning to feel exhausted by her life's hectic pace. One day a chance conversation with a friend led her to the Greek island of Lesvos, where she finally found what she was looking for - a sense of peace and the return of her creative drive.

This book describes Claire's journey to a small village in Greece - the ancient land of gods and poets, where the seasons govern a way of life that has barely changed over thousands of years. Accompanied by Claire's stunning photographs filled with colour and light, this inspirational story of reconnecting with nature and community, and finding beauty in the smallest details, will make you see the world anew.

About the Author

Claire Lloyd was born in Australia, and moved to London in her early twenties after two and a half years as an art director at Australian Vogue. In London she was the art director for the launch of the British edition of W magazine, and from there built a stellar career in magazines, film, video, books and property. Her first book, Sensual Living, showed readers how to create a home that stimulates all the senses. She now lives in Greece with her partner and a large number of animals. BOOKTOPIA INTERVIEW: CLAIRE LLOYD ANSWERS BOOKTOPIA'S TEN TERRIFYING QUESTIONS - CLICK HERE


Well written and beautiful pictures


Beautiful pictures accompanied by lovely descriptions. Great book to leave on the coffee table for guests or to add to any travel book collection.

Melbourne, AU


This book paints a picture


This book paints a delightful picture of life as a foreigner on a Greek Island. It accurately depicts the residents of the village and the pace of life. When a particular Greek dish is mentioned the recipe is included at the end of the chapter.

New South Wales


My Greek Island Home

4.5 2



In 1983 I left Australia to live in London; I had backpacked around Europe, an experience that opened my eyes and left me longing to see more, but now I was going abroad to live. On the way to the airport, my father, through his tears, gave me the following advice: 'Don't talk to anyone you don't know.' Through my tears, I agreed, although I knew it was a promise I couldn't keep. My plan was to be gone for a year, to expand my work experience and travel through Europe again. I accomplished both; however, I never made it home.

My memories of growing up in suburban Sydney in the Sixties and Seventies are of long hot summers, Balmoral Beach, picnics in the garden, sweet-smelling magnolia, bushes laden with gardenias, the cool spray of sprinklers, fishing trips, ballet lessons, Saturday netball matches and games of cricket. Home was loving and supportive – our parents always encouraged my brother, my sister and me to live life to the full. They taught us that if you worked hard, everything was possible.

My mother is imaginative and creative, and made even the most mundane chores into a game; we were always entertained and stimulated. She would collect a car full of neighbouring children and take us all fishing. She coached netball teams and my brother's soccer team, made our clothes, ran lamington drives, organised fashion shows and did whatever it took to raise money for our schools. My father worked extremely hard six days a week, so we did not see him very much. I tease him now about how scared we were of him. It was during our annual holiday to The Entrance on the Central Coast of New South Wales that Dad came into his own. Here he would take us to the beach, and fish and play cricket with us. He also enjoyed a (fiercely competitive, it must be said) game of Monopoly.

My first job was in a very small advertising agency that specialised in retail. My mother had spotted the position in the local paper. Cunningly, she promised me new clothes if my application was successful. I got the job and started just before Christmas. My boss, John, seemed like a dinosaur at the age of twenty-nine. One of the first things he told me was, 'It's better to make a decision, even if it isn't the right one, than to make no decision at all.' I took him at his word and managed to make all kinds of decisions, good and bad.

My time there was fun and I learned a lot. Drawing was something I loved and both my mum and her mum (my nanna) encouraged me to draw from a young age. I drew all sorts of things: lounge suites, refrigerators, lawnmowers, televisions and microwaves. These drawings were used in weekly ads for Col Buchan Discounts. His slogan was 'Where the customer is king and makes payday possible': often recited, never forgotten. Besides brochures and newspaper advertisements, I also designed paint tins and logos and directed the odd photo shoot, all before I was twenty.

At twenty-one, I secured the job of my dreams, working for Vogue Australia. I art-directed fashion and still life shoots and designed pages for promotions. Some of my fashion illustrations also made it on to the magazine pages. Working there was satisfying and challenging, and most importantly gave me a healthy portfolio and the confidence to set off for the other side of the world.

The Greek islands were the first stop on my travels with my lovely friend Kate. We spent two and a half months going from island to island, laughing all the way. At the end of August I arrived in cold, grey London with a suitcase of summer clothes and $1000. I had underestimated not only the weather, but also how lonely and foreign a big city could be, especially without friends. My mother wrote every week, numbering each letter. The news from home cheered me up, and her letters were brimming with love. I tried not to let my parents know how difficult life in London was, as I did not want to upset them. We all missed each other very much.

Before I left Australia, Jacquie, a Vogue colleague, had generously offered me her small flat in Parsons Green, suggesting I stay there until I sorted myself out. It was an absolute godsend. Several years later I bought the flat, and lived there for another ten years. It was minute: two 8-foot-wide rooms, one above the other. It also had a lovely little south-facing roof terrace, where I planted a garden and entertained in summer.

I went for interview after interview looking for a job, a soul-destroying experience. My favourite English magazine was The World of Interiors. It was creative and inspiring, and I wanted to work there. I contacted them and met Wendy Harrop, the art director and a pure talent. Also Australian, Wendy had travelled a similar path to London and understood the challenges I was facing. She was very complimentary and positive about my work but sadly didn't have a job for me. However, she introduced me to her husband Mel, who needed an art director for his advertising agency. I worked freelance for him, doing everything from designing brochures for hi-fi companies to directing photographs of cars in the UK and Spain.

I then spent a short time at Conran Design Group where I was senior art director for a high street fashion brand, working on all their visuals from the display material to brochures to advertising. Next was a year working in a boutique advertising agency with some lovely cosmetics and fashion clients.

My visa was about to expire and I had accepted that my work in London was coming to an end. I had started making plans to leave when I got a call from Wendy at The World of Interiors. She asked what I was doing and I said, 'Going home'. My parents were ecstatic that at long last I was coming back to Sydney, but Wendy was adamant she not only had the perfect job for me, as art director, but also the perfect lawyer to get me a work permit.

I immediately contacted my parents to explain I had been offered a great opportunity and would be staying in London. They cried, but they both understood just how important it was for me to fulfil my dream.

Although I'd gained a great deal from my other jobs, being at The World of Interiors was the first time since coming to London that I really felt connected. We were a family of like-minded people and I made strong, lasting friendships in my two and a half very happy years there. Its publisher and founder, Kevin Kelly, then asked me if I would design and art direct the British version of W magazine. This lovely project kept me completely occupied for a year and gave me the courage to leap into the freelance world in 1988.

I thrived as a freelance designer. I loved the freedom and diversity of my work, which spread across fashion, interiors and lifestyle. I was lucky to have an enviable list of clients and I travelled extensively. I began to explore other projects. Around the same time I picked up a Super 8 camera and started experimenting with film, which led to shooting and directing a couple of television commercials as well as doing mood films for clients. I also started buying properties, sometimes completely redesigning them. One of my most ambitious undertakings was in Clerkenwell, London. I bought the airspace on the top of a building and created a sensational 2500-square-foot apartment with two enormous wrap-around roof terraces, where I lived and worked for two and a half years. In 1998, my first book, Sensual Living, was published. It was an inspirational book about the senses in the home – the first of its kind.

I continued working like a maniac until 2004, when glandular fever stopped me in my tracks. During my long recuperation, I realised I no longer wanted to work in the way I had for so many years. I was getting older and my priorities were changing. There were moments when I felt a failure. Not working went against everything I believed; my life had been my work and my work had been my life. But it was time to move in a different direction. I had to muster a great deal of courage not to retreat back into the safety of what I knew. In restructuring my life, my creativity returned. The process has taken years and continues every day.

Somewhere in the midst of this journey I bought a small village house on the island of Lesvos, and now it's home. My partner Matthew Usmar Lauder, a London artist, shares and loves this new life. This book is a tribute to our life in Greece, so simple in many ways but enriched by loving animals, magnificent landscapes and wonderful people with kind faces and warm hearts.

ISBN: 9781921382581
ISBN-10: 1921382589
Audience: General
For Ages: 18+ years old
Format: Hardcover
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 224
Published: 26th September 2012
Country of Publication: AU
Dimensions (cm): 26.7 x 19.6  x 2.7
Weight (kg): 0.93
Edition Number: 1