Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Ordinary Men

The 'Sanayi' as they call it is a huge area devoted to mechanics, car maintenance, car body repairs and various shops supplying their needs. It's a warren of dark narrow roads flanked by hundreds of garages and shop fronts with cars in all states of repairs littering the streets.

The already busy streets of the city are complicated further here with not just busy car drivers going about their business, but with the detritus of the awesome automobile culture of the city blocking the roads and obstructing the thoroughfares. Often unexpectedly great flashes of light leap out of dark corners as welders go about their business.

Added to all this is the call to prayer. Contrary to our western images of Islam as, at best, an 'oriental' faith rooted in the medieval past, here it is a living part of the lives of very ordinary men. So welders, mechanics, car electonics experts and fixers of every type down tools for the 'Ezan' or call to prayer five times a day.

In the West religion is often portrayed as the sentimental occupation of those in need of a crutch, here to many, faith is the staff of life, an ingrained habit around which one hangs one's family, work and very existence. Emotion doesn't have to come into it because,  as they say,  life is an exam, don't complain just get on with it.

Screwdrivers Watercolour on paper.

Friday, September 25, 2015


Istanbul remains a confusing city. 

Take parking for example. As the city grows, as the number of cars increases, and of course as the traffic jams get worse, one can't help but notice that although there are probably enough roads in the city, there isn't enough parking. Added to this is the habit that I've never really understood of people to park in the most bizarre places, just adding to the traffic chaos.

Talking to a guy fishing on the Galata Bridge just this past week, I asked him how he came into town. He pointed to his car which was parked behind him on the road, on the bridge, under a no parking or no stopping sign. He wasn't obstructing anything and I suppose he wasn't doing any harm, but the simple audacity of it made me smile. Why not drive to the centre of one of the oldest cities on earth and park one's car next to where the fishing is best?

Parking on the Galata Bridge which crosses the historic Golden Horn is like parking on Tower Bridge in London, it's like parking on the Pont Neuf in Paris!

The fisherman smiled and said 'bir ┼čey olmaz' (nothing will happen) and we carried on enjoying the Bosphorus in all its autumn glory.

Watercolour on paper. - Byzantine Electric Metre

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Back in the Traffic

Whilst still pondering the sobering works I saw at Dismaland a few weeks ago I start off what for me is a new season with an engine.

When I first came to this huge city a friend of mine talked about how it's weird to think that most of the oxygen we're breathing here has already been inhaled multiple times by an internal combustion engine.

I hope that people sense irony when they look at this painting. The landscape of this city is moulded by the motor car so I thought I'd paint it, I mean paint the creator of the landscape.

I suppose a hundred and fifty years ago in European cities horses would have been everywhere. The roads would have been blocked by them, their waste products would be piling up in the streets, their housing and storage for their fuel would be big business. The numbers employed to maintain and service horse powered transport would have been vast.

So, we shouldn't be too upset if our our present favoured transport equivalent takes up a lot of room, oxygen and as for its waste products, we breathe it in!

People like painting horses but personally a rusting relic of our obsession with the motor car is to me more relevant and urgent than horses crashing through surf ( a favoured subject for painters).

Watercolour on Paper

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