She has traveled the entire world and then she chose this small rocky island to settle, Hydra. Alexis Averbuck seems to be the personalization of the wild independent spirit, an artist who was born in California and has spent most of her life traveling, until she found her own base in a lovely studio in Hydra.
"I have been to countless cities, dozens of countries, but somehow, unlike anywhere else I have been, Hydra just felt instantly like home", she says. "Every day here is fresh and exciting, but comfortable. As if I belong here. Hydra has an incredibly beautiful landscape of rocks, cliffs and seashore, and Hydra Town is charming with its intact, historic architecture. I appreciate the lack of cars and enjoy using my own energy to move around. But, the island is much more than its physical beauty. It has a certain, indescribable peace and strength. And the people here have been incredibly welcoming. I have a strong circle of friends and acquaintances, without which I would never have been able to successfully emigrate."
Where do you derive your inspiration from?
Without a doubt, my inspiration is the landscape. Wherever I am, I seem to absorb the physical environment. And when I paint, even if I were standing in a room without windows, my mind's eye invokes the images of a landscape, whether it's the rippling waters of Hydra or the awesome sweep of sea ice in Antarctica where I lived for a year.
Luckily, my studio in Hydra not only has windows, but overlooks the harbor, the mountains, AND the sea. Though my paintings are quite abstract, I believe that most viewers will see the local landscape reflected in them: like the aquamarine summer waters or the crimson of the springtime poppies.
What do you usually paint?
I currently paint using oil paint and canvas. In the past I have done watercolors, acrylic and even copperplate prints. I tend to paint minimal, abstract expressions of life that are meant, usually, to invoke peace and strength.
I have a website for virtual viewing of my work, and I regularly open my studio for clients and visitors. I tend to have an exhibition once every one or two years. This year I am slated to have an exhibition at a very special new venue opening in Hydra.
Apart from an artist, you are also a Lonely Planet travel writer. Do you intend to write a book about Hydra?
Well, you never know... perhaps one day I will write about Hydra since it is such a place of inspiration and importance to me. If I were to write about the island's highlights, I would be sure to mention the glorious walks that crisscross the island, the lively coffee culture in the port, the exquisite swimming holes (some of them top secret!) and the power of visiting the island out of season. For example, the peaceful winter days or the vibrant flower-filled spring make quite the contrast to the bustling summer frenzy.
How easy was it for you to adapt to the Greek way of life when you first moved?
Somehow, I think I have a part of me that is Greek at heart. That is, I didn't even notice the switch, living in Greece: it just felt completely natural. I had never consciously planned to relocate here, and yet I totally thrived in this culture that honors family, time outside of work, and the spontaneity of life. I also thrive in Hydra's relative isolation from commercial culture... I have no TV and just enjoy island life.
Now, of course, the real challenge I face is learning the Greek language! I am, siga siga, making progress, but I feel that even with a life's work I will never know all of its subtleties and intricacies. Thankfully, I simply adore the language's nuances and take heart when I communicate successfully in Greek... but the road is a long one!