Greece is a brand name itself. Not only does it stand to geographically identify a country but it also carries a heavy cultural weight that goes back to centuries. Although the Hellenic culture has a prominent position in the world nowadays, few things are known about the post Second World War Greece.

The Charmed Lives in Greece exhibition at The British Museum, is a private initiative generously supported by the Leventis Gallery in cooperation with the Leventis Foundation, the Benaki Museum and The British Museum. It showcases the romance and the virginity of the Greek landscape of the late 20th century and forms what is known as modern artistic renaissance.

The exhibition is a spotlight on the life and work of Greek painter Niko Ghika (Nikos Hadjikyriakos-Ghika), British painter John Craxton, and the British writer Sir Patrick Leigh Fermor, who all made homes in Greece. It will showcase their artworks, photographs, letters and personal possessions for the very first time.

Meeting at the end of World War II, the three men formed a friendship that would endure to the end of their lives. They shared an interest and passion for Hellenistic culture and contributed to what is now understood to be ‘a golden age of Anglo-Greek artistic and literary collaboration’.

This exhibition constitutes of an accurate example of cultural diplomacy. There are three main elements. The first is the friendship that developed between three prominent personalities. Secondly is their passion for art and literary. It is often mentioned within the exhibition that the three main characters enjoyed spending their nights talking about poetry. Although Leigh Fermor was a travel writer he used to produce a few portraits in his spare time. The third and last one was their shared love of the Greek landscape and people, a characteristic that is clearly conveyed throughout the exhibition. All the three elements have as a common reference the “Charmed life in Greece”.

What makes it more interesting and is also a measurable factor of the project’s success, is how the visitors react to it. The British Museum is world known prestigious institution with forty percent of their visitors from overseas. Since the opening of the exhibition more 45 thousand people have visited the exhibition.

The exhibition will be on until the 15th of July.

Stratos Chatzinikolaou is museum professional and head of Strategic Planning of the Hellenic Institute of Cultural Diplomacy in the UK. He works as project assistant for the Greece and Rome department of the British Museum.  

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