To all the friends of Fish & Olive
On Monday the 11th of May is the 20th anniversary of Fish & Olive in Halki, Naxos, Greece.
We were planning several events to celebrate this happy day but unfortunately, many of our friends from abroad will not be able to join us because of the current restrictions on travel and on gatherings. We must all take care of ourselves and others during these difficult times.
We had also planned to produce a special illustrated book recording the progress of Fish & Olive from our very first days until now, when Fish & Olive has become a well-regarded brand internationally while retaining its strong local identity here in Halki, Naxos. The book will be dedicated to Mrs. Niki Goulandris who was a great friend and patron of Fish & Olive and who officially opened our gallery in the year 2006.
In light of the current situation, we have decided to publish the book in 2021, but until then, as a celebration of our 20th anniversary, we post this beautiful poster which will be available as a collectible item signed by Katharina and Alex and which can be ordered online.
We would like to extend our thanks to all our friends, here in Greece and abroad and to the collectors around the world who have played such a big part in our success and development.
We include below an article by the travel writer, Des Hannigan, who has observed our development in Halki from its very beginning.
FISH & OLIVE
The first time I walked into the village of Halki on the Greek island of Naxos I felt the jolt of excitement that is joy to a travel writer in search of authenticity. This was many years ago on a late evening in the Aegean Spring.
In the tiny village square, young Scops owls called from niches in the marble facades of long-abandoned Venetian-style mansions. There was no veneer of conspicuous tourism here, no clamour for attention. There was no one in sight. Halki’s famous Vallindras Distillery, the enduring symbol of the village’s historic kitron industry, was closed for the night.
At the heart of it all, light spilled from the open door of a gallery shop, known at the time as L’Olivier. This was the showcase for the ceramicist Katharina Bolesch and her artist husband Alexander Reichardt whose fish designs and jewellery were soon to merge with Katharina’s favoured motif of the olive under the name Fish & Olive. It was a defining moment for me, the beginning of a long association with Naxos and Halki and with the work of these two remarkable artists and their own definitive Cycladic style and iconography of land and sea that has created a true ‘Art of the Aegean’.
Over the years the work of Katharina Bolesch and Alexander Reichardt has gained in sophistication and style without sacrificing the unforced beauty of that work. They have remained rooted in Halki where their life has always been closely aligned with the local community and with the village’s wellbeing. Katharina Bolesch is as Greek as a non-Greek can be. She is deeply rooted on Naxos where she spent her childhood summers and where she has lived and worked for the past thirty years immersed in island life and culture. Likewise, Alexander who has spent a great part of his life around the Mediterranean and whose father was an academic deeply versed in the Classics and in Mediterranean life. Alexander’s long experience as a diver and his close association with Cousteau Divers and Pierre-Yves Cousteau have added a unique beauty to his interpretations of the marine environment.
That Katharina and Alexander continue to live and work in Halki is a token of commitment and of a love of place that has not wavered in spite of their growing international reputation. Over time they have expanded Fish & Olive through their gallery-workshop that lies just round the corner from their still busy shop. Part of the once-ruinous complex was an old guardhouse and the conversion has preserved a key part of Halki’s heritage.
For many years Alexander and Katharina have honed their craft to a remarkable level. Their imagery merges the representational with the impressionistic, especially so in Alexander’s design work while Katharina’s craft remains rooted in her stoneware traditions and has become increasingly subtle and compelling.
The growing international recognition of the work of Fish & Olive seemed predictable to me all those years ago when I first wandered into Halki in the velvet dusk of the Tragea, the high mountain basin of Naxos. This tiny village is still the finest of showcases for Fish & Olive’s universal yet essentially Cycladean work. I live in one of the world’s great centres of art, in West Cornwall where famous art movements have brought a Tate Gallery outstation to the town of St Ives. I am a writer not an art critic or art fancier but I have grown to recognise art that is both inspiring and beautiful. The work of FISH&OLIVE lives and breathes at the heart of Aegean Greece, proof enough that a sense of place is often the driver of creativity, not least when the artists involved are such outstanding practitioners as Katharina Bolesch and Alexander Reichardt.
Des Hannigan: travel writer and journalist
Beyond Greece, the work of Fish & Olive Creations is now celebrated worldwide. Katharina Bolesch’s ceramics were displayed at the Academy of Athens during the 2004 Olympic Games and have been featured at the United Nations in New York. In 2007, a major exhibition of her work was staged at the Design Museum (iittala Group, Arabia Museum) in Helsinki.
Alexander’s work has close associations with the Goulandris Natural History Museum in Athens. The works of Fish & Olive have represented Greece in the National Art Center in Tokyo while many are in private collections and homes worldwide.
The work of Fish & Olive was first exhibited in England in 2017 in the ideal setting of Hull’s great aquarium The Deep as part of the city’s role as the UK’s City of Culture. Alexander Reichardt is a skilled scuba diver and is a lifetime member of the famous Cousteau Divers and a close friend of Pierre Yves Cousteau who was guest of honour at the opening of The Deep exhibition where the Cousteau campaign for marine conservation was celebrated.