I went to Mount Athos to spend some time with the monks and do some visual research for an exhibition called ´Byzantium' at the Francis Kyle Gallery. Francis seemed to think I was good at painting monasteries and had been suggesting I go to one for a while. It hadn't really appealed to begin with but when the idea of going to Athos eventually came up I was ready for it. Getting a permit to visit Athos was a bit tricky as I wanted to go asap and bypass the Pilgrim's office in Thessaloniki. They wanted me to wait till the summer but the deadline for the show was looming. Eventhually I found a way to speed the process of application up which initially involved people who knew people who could help but finally involved me hiring a Greek guy to call the monasteries direct and negotiating my entry.
Athos is a bit difficult to get to as well as. The monks strictly control access and you have to arrive on monk boat, and not by land. They only allow ten pilgrims a day onto the peninsula and you are limited to a three night stay.