The object of this Turkish adventure is not to live in Istanbul. The object is to DRAW Istanbul. I’d forgotten that. The drawing is the principle. How I live- where, who I know, where I go for dinner- is the personality. Principle always comes first. So in January I took my sketchbook out into Sirkeci where I’d always wanted to draw, &started, &got happy, &everything in my life came right.
Drawing Grizabella in Sirkeci. I think Emre took this picture. It was so cold I was wearing three pairs of socks.
A NEW VIEW
THE BELT SELLER
This guy’s been selling belts at the base of the Deutsch Orientbank for as long as I’ve been in Istanbul. And his friend the simit seller was there as well. We lost our friend the simit seller, and the building’s now in restoration, but the belt seller is still there.
The Deutsch Orientbank, from the Bismarck Era in Istanbul, burned in 1911, a hundred years before I drew it. I was camped in the cold for days drawing this, and got to know everyone in the neighborhood. At the time of this drawing, the bank entrance was used at the beginning of the famous chase sequence in Skyfall, but it didn’t lead to a tunnel, but to tiers of beautiful round empty spaces floored in places with pigeonshit, pigeon feathers floating in the air. I used to call this building Gringott’s For Real, because it looks like the Goblin Bank in Harry Potter. Jeannie christened it The Bat Building, because if anything says ‘Gotham City….’
THE BAT BUILDING
GRIZABELLA IN SIRKECI
Another fabulous multi-day session in Sirkeci. People were happy that I was drawing this beloved hulk of a landmark across from the old Post Office. They bought books and brought me tea and sandwiches. I had to wear three pairs of socks and a heavy coat but had a wonderful time. Passersby told me that this was built in the 1860s. Around 1900 it was modernized by adding Art Deco window frames and roses. Notice the two cats up top, with circular whiskers. I think the musical notes were added later, perhaps in the 1930s. Grizabella in the musical, Cats, is the Glamour Cat, who falls on such hard times that she’s chosen to ascend to the equivalent of Heaven. We have many Grizabellas in the streets of Istanbul, but this one is a building.
Yahya, here, stopped dead in the street when he saw me drawing Grizabella in Sirkeci. Then he danced around and around me, saying, “Yahya!! Yahya!!” I gathered that this was his name. The next day he showed up and posed in this dignified manner before vanishing forever. If you know him, he’s got a print coming.