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 Noel Bensted (UK)
& Anna Kwiecinska

Noel Benstead painting in Morocco.jpg

8 days/7 nights

Day 1- arrival day - meet at Piraeus Port and travel together to Hydra. Welcome dinner

Day 8 - departure day - no program

  • 6 Full Days of Art Program + free time

  • 1 Full day tour to Epidavros and Mycenae

11 - 18 October 2024


For many artists, for hundreds of years, a stay on Hydra, the enchanting, some say magical, Aegean island, was a significant part of how their art was created.


We’re choosing to be there in 2024, for that reason … the richness of the artistic legacy… and for the chance that such exceptional surroundings will be your muse, too.


On Hydra, writers, painters, songsters, musicians and dreamers of all types, found a place that inspired them. From its shores, looking out to the Aegean or inward to their artistic dreams,  poetry, novels, avant-garde texts, masterpieces in paint and word, emerged. Be there, with us, and find your own threads of inspiration.

The Background

Anna lived on Hydra for two wonderful years, and during some of that time worked as an arts instructor, and returns regularly to indulge the pleasure of slow travel and meet old friends have barely left The Rock, as we call it, in all that time.

Anna met Noel Benstead, who has lived in Fes for many years - see his CV here - when she moved to Morocco in 2017, and first saw his art exhibited at the ALIF Riad in Fes Medina. 


October  on Hydra : It's the end of summer, the locals are relaxed, you've arrived onto one of Greece's most picturesque islands - one with no vehicular traffic, only donkeys, water taxis and meandering footpaths - and you have ahead of you a week of making art with Noel Benstead.

With the water still deliciously comfortable for swimming, cool evenings exploring the many charming seaside tavernas, and quay-side accommodation overlooking the famous port of Hydra, you'll need to be quick to secure your place on this special week.


You have our very own room in beautiful hotels hand-picked by Anna - check them out HERE


Many thanks for a magnificent experience!


Glenda W. Melbourne Australia, 

Florabunda with Este MacLeod 2022

This 8-day/7-night retreat offers you a week to work besides a full-time professional artist who gained his BA at the Royal College of Art, London. Since graduating in 1993, Noel Bensted has been exhibiting, working on portrait commissions and guest lecturing and teaching in the UK and abroad. 

With 30-hours of tuition (5 hrs art time per day for 6 days, in various settings) Noel encourages you to paint alongside him (we are limiting this retreat to only ten participants), working in your own style, and referring to him for advice, assistance and problem-solving. 

For this reason you will bring your own materials - we will have 'emergency supplies' available. Noel traditionally uses oil paints, but we will be using water-based media on this retreat. The masterclasses will be conducted in both in oils and water-based media.

Drawing is encouraged - it's an important part of Noel's practice - but don't be put off if this is not a strong part of your own! 

We'll meet each morning and discuss the day's destination - be it a taverna by a secluded beach, a hillside portico offering Hydra's magnificent vistas, or a quiet spot on the port watching the donkeys being loaded up with the day's recent deliveries -   the possibilities are many, and you are of course welcome to take time out to paint alone too if you wish.

In the evening, you'll enjoy Noel's Masterclasses, watching him work, whilst you relax with a drink and mezes before - or perhaps after -  dinner. Each day will evolve according to the weather, along with Feeback from you as a group, as to what you wish to concetrate on. 

You will have time each day to relax, swim, take a nap, laze on your terrace or find a warm rock on which to soak up the late sun.

You will take home a collection of works, not only souvenirs of a memorable late summer holiday on this unique island, but as a compendium of techniques which you'll be able to elaborate on in your own studio work.


  • A day in secluded Mandraki Bay to swim,

  • Enjoy a taverna lunch at Mandraki, and all day to make art with Noel

  • Your choice of accommodation and breakfast for 7 nights (details to be  shared in the Early Bird newsletter)

  • Boat from Piraeus Port (Athens) to Island of Hydra (2 hours by 'Dolphin' hydroflight vessel)

  • Boat trip to Ermioni on Peloponnese for a day of painting off the rocks besides pristine clear waters, perfect for jumping into refresh before lunch.

  • Full day tour with boat, coach transport and entrances  to UNESCO siyes of Epidavros and Mycenae. 


  • If you have some prior painting experience at any level. Noel traditionally uses il paints, but we will be using water-based media on this retreat.

A full week with lots of painting, where all you need do is turn up each day after breakfast (and perhaps an early-morning dip?  ... the water is still very inviting at the end of summer).

Choose from our two beautiful accommodations

Noel and I warmly invite you to join our group in 2024 for this exceptional art experience by the sea on the legendary Greek island of Hydra.


1988-1991        Brighton Polytechnic : BA Honours (First) Degree in Illustration 
1991-1993        Royal College of Art London, MA RCA Painting 

Selected Exhibitions 
1993               The Artists' London, Museum of London 
1994               Corporeal Realities,  Ward- Nasse Gallery NYC, USA 
1999-2013      Medici Gallery London - various group shows
2000               Fresh Paint, Duke of York's headquarters with MacLean Fine Art - Art London
2004-2013     Six Solo shows Medici Gallery Cork at London
2005               Solo show Bohemia Galleries, York, UK
2006-2009    Solo shows, The Biscuit Factory Gallery, Newcastle, UK
2014,2017       Solo Shows - ALIF Gallery Fez, Morocco .
2016-2019      Solo show, Marshall Gallery London 
2017                Still Not Static, Thompson's Gallery Marylebone London
2021                Life under Lockdown, The Covid Refugee" :Live solo show plus various livestreams and demos from my house and studio in Fez.

Public exhibitions and Awards :
1993               Daler Rowney Drawing Prize. National Portrait Gallery, London
2011                Finalist B.P Portrait Award,

2014               Portrait Artist of the year contestant 

Portrait Commissions and notable portraits include :

  • Lady Susan Wolfson of Sunningdale

  • Baroness Helena Kennedy QC(now KC) Mr James Laughland

  • Mr Simon Burgess

  • Rev S Godfrey, Anglican rev Valetta, Malta

Teaching and Lecturing:
1997 -2013     

  • Visiting professor in Life Drawing Kingston University London.

  • Guest lecturer at : Brighton University,

  • ALC language center Fez Morocco.


  • Guest lecturer, and various demonstrations to Various private groups in and around London museums, galleries and studios.


  • Portugal and Spain. Artist guided Painting and Drawing Tours with Art Travel Adventures of Morocco,


Languages : English,Spanish,French, Moroccan Arabic

Creative Living Retreats by Anna Kwiecinska

With a background as an art historian and art gallery owner, my collaboration with outstanding artists continues to be a fascinating career which evolved into specialist art retreats designed to combine seriously good art tuition with authentic cultural experiences. in beautiful places which I know well and look forward to sharing with you at ideal times of the year. More info

Over a decade, many retreatants have returned for our thoughtfully curated weeks of supported creativity, and I genuinely look forward to welcoming you to experience the depth of wellbeing that Creative Living Retreats have become known for, 


Loved the whole thing. Food was amazing and plenty of variety. Staff amazing ... I just thought you did the retreat so well. I felt totally satisfied with the way you made it all happen and made us all feel very special. You really were the glue. Very professional.


The exhibition was just so beautifully put together. 

Lyn Mowday, Busselton, Australia, 2019

How does the retreat work?

With our varied evening programs, each day is a little different, but the working part of our program is like this:


BREAKFAST                    At your hotel.  Walk to the retreat hub around 10 am 

ART SESSION I                10.30 -12.30 with morning tea

LUNCH BREAK               12.30- 2.00

ART SESSION 2               2.00 - 5.00 with afternoon tea                                

DINNER                            Enjoy discovering Hydra's many tavernas on the port, walk to Kamini or find a spot up on high


What does your Retreat include?  

see all the inclusions > 

  • 30 Hours of Art Tuition with Noel Benstead over 6 days

  • Evening masterclasses with Noel in addition to taught plein-air classes

  • Transit by boat from Athens port of Piraeus to Hydra (Anna will accompany you )

  • 8 nights accommodation on Hydra - see accommodation 

  • Breakfasts 7

  • Taverna Lunches 1  

  • Welcome Dinner at Port Hydra

  • Final night Dinner on Hydra

  • Boat trip for painting (weather permitting)

  • full day tour by boat, then by coach - to visit 2 UNESCO World heritage sites: 

  • Epidavros classical Amphitheatre

  • Mycenae archaeological site and museum


You made Florabunda a multisensory success. The program was beyond special.

I thank you Esté for your professionalism, your generosity in sharing all of your secrets and of course, your amazing talent.

Thank you Anna for convening this fabulous experience.

Your style, grace and attention to detail made everyone feel important. Sharing your home for those days of art and food and armchair yoga will be a special memory for me to hold. 

You have gathered an amazing staff around you ... thank you again.

I loved Florabunda.

Gloria C. Queensland, Australia.

Florabunda  with Este MacLeod  in Bali 2022

What's not included

YOUR RETREAT STARTS at THE PORT OF PIRAEUS on DAY 1 when we all travel to Hydra together

The retreat FINISHES after breakfast on DAY 8 and the check-out time from your hotel.

Extra nights may be available - enquire with Anna - please mention this on your booking form.

Please note that the links on the pricelist below are not live - but you can download the pricelist PDF by hitting the button below and can access live links from that.

Accommodation details for HYDRA-GREECE available HERE

GREECE NOEL BENSTED 2024 Creative Living Retreats.jpg
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