Wednesday, December 18, 2013


'The traffic is heavy today because it's a Sunday, everyone is out 'gezing' (sight seeing etc..).'
'The traffic is heavy today because it's a Monday morning and everyone is going to work.'
'The traffic is heavy today because it's Saturday afternoon' - no reason usually given.
'Of course the traffic is heavy today because it's a weekday.'

Add all the above up and you will understand traffic is always heavy here.

However, if you add snow to the equation, it all gets a lot more exciting! When I say snow, really we're talking about a fairly light brushing of soggy snow that comes most years for a day or so in January or February in Istanbul. But when it comes it's great! The children eagerly scan the local news  in the hope that the Mayor will call a 'Kar Tatili' or Snow Holiday. The teachers take a passionate interest in the weather which is a restrained adult version of the kid's blind excitement about the possibility of a day off. Despite the excitement, in true Istanbul style the sun can rise and bring crashing disappointment to millions of hopeful hearts.

Never mind, the winter is yet young.

A piece of the city wall - nothing to do with snow, it's sunlight...……
Watercolour on 300gm paper.

Monday, November 25, 2013

866 or was it 998?

I turned up early in the morning ready to queue to get into the vehicle test station, it was just a ten minute wait or so. As the cars filed in one could see (usually overweight) middle aged men running for the number machine, avoiding waiting around is worth running for especially for motorists in Istanbul.

Now a word about these number dispensing machines. I've been in countries where a crowd could be surrounding these machines and a hundred hands would be clawing for the paper numbers they spit out, if you pull too hard the paper strips can jam which then requires a member of staff to fix the machine, reload the machine and start the whole process again. Of course by then what was an impatient crowd has turned into a murderous mob.

'Chok shukur' (many thanks) as they say here, Turkey is way too civilised for that and a fairly orderly queue had developed by the number machine. Out of the corner of my eye I spotted another machine that no-one had noticed and managed to get my number from there. I smugly took my seat amongst the  others.

I don't know what is going on in the minds of the waiting room systems  software programmers, why would one start at a random number like 1768 at 8.15 in the morning? Why not start at '1'? The other urban mystery I grapple with is why would the number series go on 1768, 1769, 1770 and then switch to 345, and then to 7777? Maybe they are trying to make the whole experience unpredictable for us in order to liven up a boring bureaucratic procedure? 

The numbers were progressing 863, 864 etc.. and I wondered when my 998 number was going to turn up, especially considering I was about 8th in the queue. So another suggestion I have for the waiting room software and waiting systems consultants is this; why not put something on the little squares of paper with the numbers on to indicate which way up they are supposed to be?

Friday, November 8, 2013

Art Has Wings

This is a short one to invite you to the following event where one of my pictures is showing...

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Bus Pass

It's the time of year when we should renew our bus passes. There's an exciting new system where one can book online at the nearest public transport office and have a quick hassle free experience where one's new card is produced within a few minutes. I booked online for both myself and my daughter  and we arranged to meet well in time for our appointment. 

Well to start with there was a queue, which is OK really. I've learnt in life that one has to keep one's expectations as low as possible especially when it comes to bureaucratic procedures involving government or non profit making institutions. I love queues in places like Istanbul, people talk together, complain together and generally share the stress and irritation of being left waiting. My time came within a mere fifteen minutes of waiting, reasonable by any standards, however, then we hit the foreigner problem. Whether one is buying a car or registering at a hospital being a foreigner introduces a completely different level of bureaucracy. Added to this,  the poor person who is supposed to be serving you can suffer an anxiety attack as they grapple with a system which is understandably not geared to serving the tiny minority of foreigners living in the city who are eligible for a bus pass, and are crazy enough to go through the pain of trying to obtain one.

Suffice to say it took a long time for him to work out that it just couldn't be done for me! I had one irrate  member of the queue pleading with me to go and come back another day and let the rest of the waiting masses get on with what should be a quick and painless procedure. I apologised to the whole queue a number of times and sarcastically mentioned that next time I'd bring a letter from the Prime Minister which should do the trick.

In the end I have to say that I can probably afford not to use a teacher's bus pass and I'll survive. It's all good fun. Next appointment will be the annual car road test... watch this space.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Aftermath...

There wasn't an alcohol ban, there were a few laws brought in to control the domestic consumption of alcohol but nothing worse than the kind of regulation that some EU countries have. Whatever was happening a month ago on the streets of Istanbul it seems to have quietened down. I'm reluctant to comment on those events, suffice to say most of the world clearly failed to understand the complexity of the political situation here and how facile comparisions to the Arab world obscured what is happening in modern Turkey.

I have friends on either side of what seemed at the time to be a political divide of enormous proportions, they all feel very deeply about their positions. What came home to me was how much we rely on international news agencies and the media to inform our world view; but at the same time they are frequently very wrong in the impressions they give, scary!

We wondered back in June if our group exhibition was to be cancelled as it was in the centre of town close to the events that filled the news. In the final event it went ahead and we had a great opening, I do wonder however,  if visitors in the following week were put off by the large numbers of riot police hanging around the building!

Watercolour on paper.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Now for Something Completely Different....

I guess you've all heard of what's been going down here. Don't believe everything you hear from the astonishingly poorly informed western press. I'll not comment as feelings run high on every side and I really just want to paint pictures.

Had a great exhibition in the old Sultan's kitchen in Istanbul....

More paintings when I get a chance....

Thursday, June 6, 2013


June 10th-17th 2013
Istanbul My Love
(close to the Beşiktaş ferry)
TBMM Milli Saraylar Depo Muzesı, 
Dolmabahce Caddesi
1344 Istanbul

Assuming the riots are firmly in the past please come along to our group exhibition....

10th June 2013 at 7pm for our opening

You're all invited....

Friday, May 24, 2013


Everywhere one looks at the moment there are roadworks, there must be an election coming up! Here is seems that the periodic renewing of parks, roads and sidewalks indicates that the political classes are feeling the need to show the normal person on the streets that things are being done. Regarding politics, the conversations I have with people are very predictable at the moment. Most people are fairly impressed with the ruling party. The government seems (to the eye of a foreigner) to be working hard to improve the lives of ordinary people, the more secular minded folk I meet are 'twitchy' about the overtly religious tone of the much of what the government does.

I'm happy that the buses are running on time.....

Watercolour on Paper

Monday, April 29, 2013

Season's End

The football season is drawing to a close here and it looks as though Galatasaray will be winning the League here in Turkey. They have done really well this year what with progressing into the last eight of the Champions League. I enjoyed a raucous evening one night in November watching a televised match of them losing to Manchester United, in the end they progressed further than the English clubs and did themselves proud. The controversy over match fixing that took place a year or two back still has it's effects, I have good friends who seem to have lost interest in football on the basis of the spate of match fixing that was exposed in the 2010-11 season. For a casual observer like me it all adds to the fun, teasing my neighbours and friends about various football rivalries, or allegations of cheating etc.. make for a pleasant distraction, although I carefully avoid creating too much irritation; football is taken very seriously here.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Ten least (never!) painted scenes of Istanbul....

It's been a busy month with many attempts to create, but finished works that I'm happy with are few and far between at the moment. The insanity with strange sights beneath my feet continues, not great but it was a good learning curve....

There's a building boom going on at the moment in the city, every available piece of land that's been the haunt of street cats and dogs since the days of the Conqueror are being built on. There should also be a boom  in the cat population too at this time of year, we'll be seeing cute little balls of wool sunning themselves on the streets soon. My neighbour downstairs tells me that the Prophet himself was a cat lover and often had kitten hidden in his robes. This same neighbour works in a pet shop and brings home feed for the local cats, the front door to our apartment block is a cat magnet. Back to work...

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Ten Least Painted Scenes of Istanbul

Yes, it's the back of a truck. Every Tuesday the streets are lined with trucks bringing in goods to the weekly bazaar. The trucks seem to be unique to this part of the world, maybe the colourful stripes are widespread in the broader Balkans area but I've never really seen them much before. I can't noticing them as I walk to work in the mornings, they have a certain charm....

Watercolour on 600gm paper.

Monday, March 4, 2013


Boring, sad, neglected walls, that will no doubt be torn down and replaced by other newer equally boring sad walls, funnel me to work. It's nice of the youth to try and brighten up the tedium of reinforced concrete expanses of beige. They should probably ask permission before they emblazon 'tags' on a wall but that would probably defeat the whole point of graffiti. The sunlight transforms the scene; natural, life giving, hope filled rays bring beauty to the chaos.

Watercolour on paper 
For sale 

Monday, February 18, 2013

Steel in the rain....

Pied Beauty

GLORY be to God for dappled things—
  For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
    For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
  Landscape plotted and pieced—fold, fallow, and plough;        
    And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;
  Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
    With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:        
 Praise him.

Gerard Manley Hopkins

Watercolour on paper

Monday, February 11, 2013


The old waterside district of Karaköy lurkıng beneath the better known Galata Tower overlooks the 'Golden Horn' on the one side and the Bosphorus on the other. This area continues to hold compelling images to paint for me. Amidst the rundown neighbourhood of dilapidated streets and ancient Ottoman structures crumbling away, there is a hardware bazaar that opens every Monday. Piles of chains, racks of pulleys, nautical hardware such as anchors and rope adorn the narrow streets. Down by the waterside more adventurous tourists sip tea and look across the water to the more frequented areas of the old city. The smell of fish fills the air as Mondays appear also to be fish bazaar day, the mixture of textures, colours, smells and shapes combine in a feast of human creativity, industry and the joy of life.

Watercolour on paper

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