'I Can't Wait To Kiss You

behind the inspiration for the design

Our card design 'I can't wait to kiss you' is inspired by the unique fresco 'Spring' (known also as 'Spring Flowers and Swallows*'), a real masterpiece of art, found at the famous Greek island of Santorini.

Let me repeat it: the island of Santorini. Does the name sound familiar to you? If by chance you have not heard about it, I suppose you have stumbled upon at least one image from there. You know, one of those with white painted low-lying cubical houses and blue domed churches clustered at the top of the edge of caldera. Not to mention, of course, the photos with the breathtaking views towards the volcano or those with gorgeous sunsets at the background.

In addition to its present distinctive beauty, this amazing Greek island impresses also with its magnificent ancient heritage - the frescoes in Ancient Akrotiri village.

Between 1627 and 1600 BC (most likely between 1613 and 1614 BC**), a violent volcanic eruption interrupted the life on the island for a few centuries. It buried everything under a thick layer (up to 60 m/200 ft) of volcanic ash and pumice, and it was not until 1967 when excavations started, that an advanced prehistoric settlement, till then unknown, was discovered. Because it is close to the modern village of Akrotiri (at the southern part of the island), it was given the same name 'Ancient Akrotiri.

Besides the unusual two or three-storey buildings, what is even more striking is the paintings inside.

The inner walls of almost all buildings were painted with vibrant frescoes. Not just a single wall in a room was covered by a fresco, but all four decorated, creating a panoramic scene. Thankfully to that blanket of ashes the frescoes were exceptionally well preserved.

The frescoes display a remarkable diversity of themes:

  1. the natural world - the sea and its inhabitants like fish and dolphins, plants like papyrus, lilies and crocus, animals like bulls, goats, antelopes, monkeys, wild-cats, ducks, and birds like swallows
  2. geometrical motifs and abstract shapes, especially curves and spirals
  3. the main subject however remains the human presence - ordinary men and women in scenes of their everyday life - working, sporting, feasting, traveling and so on. And note that political portraiture was totally absent.

The process of painting (wet frescoes technique) and the depicted subjects (scenes from daily life rather than praising gods or rulers) resemble the frescoes in Minoan Knossos in Crete, thus the conclusion that probably Akrotiri was an advanced colony of the powerful Minoan civilization.

To figure the human body, the artists used the same style of 'twisted perspective', well-known in other ancient cultures like Mesopotamia or Egypt. Twisted perspective is when the feet, the legs and the head along with the eye are shown in profile, whilst the torso and the hands are shown frontally.

The palette of the painters included only the colours red, orange, black, blue, purple, and white. Because they were derived from minerals, these colours were quite strong, bright and expressive. Though having a limited palette, the skillful artists exploited it in a way to convey the impression that they had a wider range of colours at their disposal.

Did you notice earlier when I said that almost all the buildings were painted? Yes, they were - all four walls of the rooms at the second floor in buildings of all types. This mere fact only suggests that frescoes were not restricted to the rich elite but were enjoyed by all classes of the society.

The scientists rely upon the frescoes to reveal further details about this advanced ancient culture that thrived 3.600 years ago in Santorini - clothes & hairstyles, jewelry, armour & weapons, urban architecture, landscapes, crafts, ships, construction and ship size, habits, etc.

For all the rest of us, non-scientists, they are fine works of art. Now, once found, they could again accomplish their main purpose - to please the eye and to remind us to enjoy and celebrate everyday life. And of course, to inspire our creativity.

* the original now is in the National Archaeological Museum

** New American-British research, based on new tree dating analyzes concluded that the latter occurred between 1600 and 1525 BC.