-“Building is magic and you are magic.” —Emre, Passerby, Sirkeci 11January 2011
-January-June 2011 -Istanbul -TriciVenola ©2011
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
-They ripped down the ugliest government building in Sultanahmet, revealing this aspect of Ayasofya which made me gasp.
-A new view of an old friend.
THE BELT SELLER
–Sirkeci-TriciVenola©2011This 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 BAT BUILDING
-Deutsch Orientbank-TriciVenola ©1-11-11 2011
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….’
more info on this at A Breath of Air: Drawing in Sirkeci
GRIZABELLA IN SIRKECI
-TriciVenola ©17-20 Ocak 2011
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.
more info on this at A Breath of Air: Drawing in Sirkeci
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.
GIANT LION CLAWS-Another day in the Istanbul Arkeolocikal Muze…-Theodosius Forum 386-393-Cadaver-like aged marble faces-3rd C-Cemberlitas-“Hellenistic”-Alexander-Giant lion claws-Boukoleon lion claw-Like a Sioux!-Flat griffin-TriciVenola ©2011
I love wandering through the museum drawing stuff. I just wish they’d let me sit down.
more on this in The Gordion Knot of History: Drawing In Museums
-This thousand-year-old marble lion may have lost his nose but not his roar. Taller as a tall man, he was one of a pair that once graced a balcony over the sea at the Boukoleon Palace. They saw the Crusaders come, and survived them.
-Archeological Museum, Istanbul
And here’s the giant lion and his claws. Found to my chagrin that I must now get special permission to draw in the Archeological Museum, so I got it. One hour later, I was able to fulfill a years-long lust to draw this lion. I did it in two sections, and merged them on the computer.
EMPRESS IRENE & LAOCOON
-Had her son blinded to preserve imagery in Christian art. So how DID she look, really?-Empress Irene on a coin-Istanbul Archeological Museum-TriciVenola ©2011
The beautiful Empress Irene worshipped icons: images of holy figures made of wood, ceramic, plaster, precious metals and jewels. Her husband was an Iconoclast, who destroyed such images as evil. After he died, his son Constantine VI ruled with Irene, but he too became an Iconoclast. In 792 she had him blinded, seized the throne and ruled absolutely for seven years, finally deposed by the populace, who were sickened by her act. But because of her, there is imagery in Christian art, so she was canonized by the Greek Orthodox Church. That bejeweled gold rood screen in St Mark’s Cathedral in Venice was created by her for Hagia Sophia, and carted off by 4th Crusaders in 1204. The statue of Laocoon is in the Archeological Museum.
ZEUS &THE OLD CITY -Head of Zeus, point of Sultanahmet Interviewing with some people about their project that never came off. But from their offices I got this swell drawing of the point. Zeus was in the Archeological Museum.
THE SAME FACE-Trendy young man with Alexandrian profile on the tram-Walks around Tahtakale with a cat on his head, pushing a cart covered with photos of himself.-They have the same facial structure…-TriciVenola ©2011
I miss the Cat Man. He disappeared shortly after I drew this.
Fine old hans, hundreds of years old, line the arteries connecting the Spice Bazaar, at the bottom of the hill, with the Grand Bazaar at the top.
And here we are on a happy day walking between them. Photo by Ken Brown.
MUSTAFA IN THE GRAND BAZAAR
-Mustafa – Grand Bazaar-TriciVenola ©2011
I don’t know him and I’ve never seen him since, but Mustafa here is the archetypal Grand Bazaar Salesman.
more on Grand Bazaar sales attitudes here.
MOMO OUT FRONT-Momo outside his store-Grand Bazaar March-April-TriciVenola ©2011
This view is looking down the street from the shop, opposite the view in ‘Everybody Loves Gemini.’
Muhammed Rahimoglu walked through the Khyber Pass when he was three, as he and his family left Kabul, Afghanistan in the early 1980s. Forty families made the trip, and one brother got lost, turning up with another family after three days. Momo remembers being hungry, and an old lady giving him milk from a red wooden bowl. He sells them now, along with a lot of other glorious tribal art. Momo had the best Afghan shop in the Grand Bazaar, and now sells online at TribalArts.com.
EVERYBODY LOVES GEMICI-Everybody knows Yilmaz Gemici- who sells packs of tissues in the Grand Bazaar.-Outside Momo’s shop.-TriciVenola ©Ocak 2011
Gemini was so adorable I just had to draw him. He knew everybody in the bazaar. Then I learned that he was an engineer of note. He worked his whole life and invested his savings in a Turkish money fund that went bust after he retired. So he sells tissues. After that I stopped wanting to pet him, and we became friends.
This view is looking up the street from the view in ‘Momo Out Front.’
THE IKAT PRINCES–Emin & Nurettin of NUREM Art Textiles,the Ikat Princes.-TriciVenola ©Ocak 2011
Emin and Nurettin create new production tribal art: Ikat and Suzanis, employing entire villages of women throughout Turkey. Ikat resembles tie-die, except that it is not printed but woven into the very fabric. A Suzani is a tablecloth-sized hand-embroidered piece, usually cotton but sometimes silk. They have an enormous showroom in the Grand Bazaar.
BIG MOMO AND BELT-Momo-TriciVenola ©2011
Muhammed Rahimoglu of Tribal Arts is Turkman from Afghanistan. He’s always looked to me exactly as Genghis Khan must have looked, judging from all the Khan’s portraits. Actually DNA testing in the area of the Mongol empire shows that about one in three people is a descendant of the Khan.
YOUNG MAN & CLOUDS-TriciVenola ©2011 A cousin of Momo’s from Afghanistan.
THE TALL HIJAB-TriciVenola ©2011 Reminded me of those enormous beehive hairdos in the 1960s, out West in the US.
THREE ART ANGELS-Three art angels brightened my whole year-Iklim -Gunesh -Ozge-TriciVenola ©2011 Here they are, my three beautiful art students of 2011. Bright and curious and energetic, they give me great hope for Turkey. Istanbul Erkek, on the hill in Sultanahmet, is one of the top two state schools in Turkey. These girls beat out thousands to get in. Iklim heard me lecture on art at the school, called me up and got her friends to go in with her on one hour a week art lessons. My, we had fun. I drew this to commemorate our year together, and each got a print.
OUR CAFE THAT WAS–Nuri “John Travolta” at our favorite nargile cafe, Corlulu Ali Pasa. Cemberlitas, winter 2011.-TriciVenola ©2011
Corlulu Ali Pasha Tea Garden, on Divan Yolu up by the Grand Bazaar. Everybody goes there: soldiers on leave, waiters on break, salesmen, students, guys who make nargile pipes…
We were horrified when the owners of the cafes in this 500-year-old tea garden decided to renovate. They scraped off the birds’ nests and all the peeling paint and pulled down all the carpets and the charm and painted it new. But it now looks pretty much the way it did back in 2011.
A DRAWING LESSON
-This guy was very pleased to pose for me and my three beautiful 16-year-old students. He didn’t so much as twitch for 20 minutes.
Both these fellows were happy to pose. Whatever cafe we chose for our weekly art lesson, we never had a problem finding models.
REFIK HAVING A SMOKE
-Bread & Water-Refik having a smoke on a cold winter day.-TriciVenola ©23Ocak-18Subat 2011
Ah, the black leather jacket, the face of an ancient culture, the exotic water pipe, the Aladdin lamps, the… iPhone. Yes, this says “Old City Istanbul.” I was smoking nargile in Corlulu Ali Pasha, up by the Grand Bazaar, with my friend Frank when this fine fellow plunked down across from us and lit up. Later I came back and drew the lamps above him. Refik , 20 years old from Diyarbakir, was a waiter in Sultanahmet. I later heard that he emigrated to the US.
It’s that brilliantine on the hair combined with the black leather and the rocklike nose that makes him look like a silent film sheik.
MADE IN MALATYA- CONSTRUCTION-Murat says: Made in Malatya!-Toktay Cafe Sofçu Han up by the Grand Bazaar.-These guys wouldn’t even let me pay for my tea. Ottoman (Nuresmaniye Camii in restoration-Byzantine Han (Sofçu)-& Republic. A really good session.-TriciVenola ©2011
Nuresmaniye Mosque is 18th century Baroque Ottoman.
Sofçu Han shows the lumpy brickwork of surviving Byzantine architecture appropriated by the Ottomans.
Murat’s cafe is tented for the winter in good old 20th century plastic and canvas.
MADE IN MALATYA-RESTORATION
It seemed a shame to leave this fine drawing, which incorporates all aspects of istanbul, with ugly scaffolding on Nuresmaniye Mosque. So I came back a month later and drew the restoration on an overlay. Both versions exist in the sketchbook.
-This guy is a math teacher. If my math teacher had had a face like this, I might’ve mastered algebra.
-TriciVenola ©Winter 2011
A kumpir is a baked potato, stuffed with all sorts of things: olives, cheeses, cut-up weiners, cabbage, pickles, corn. Butter too! They’re wonderful on a cold day. While devouring one in a cafe up by the Grand Bazaar, I met two teachers and had to draw this blunt, honest, happy face.
TWO GIRLS AT THE BUS STOP
-2 girls at the bus stop the first warm sunny day in 2011.-TriciVenola ©2011
And some studies of steps at Nuresmaniye mosque.
OL’ BLUE EYES
-Bon vivant Bill Eve telling stories about adventures in the desert with Queen Noor
-Easter Sunday 2011
-House Cafe, Tunel
Bill is living in London now, after a lifetime in Africa and the Middle East, and my, how we miss him!
ALWAYS IN HIS HEART
-Always in his heart: Hasan Kliçaslan and Beloved.
Handsome Hasan Kiliçaslan made paying my rent via bank order not only possible but fun. He and his wife met in banking school and were living in different cities for career reasons, so I did this portrait for them.
One of the oldest walls in the Old City, running along the street above the Main Post Office, this housed a cistern, several abandoned chambers, and a water storage facility. I’ll be drawing it from photos for a long time.
Judging by the brickwork, this has to be about 1500 years old, patched and changed over the centuries.
HIDDEN CISTERN COLUMN
-One of many huge columns at a hidden cistern in Emninonu – Take 1
Umutulmus Sarnici (Umutulmus Cistern): This wonder was behind a wall, above the Main Post Office, part of a whole Byzantine complex going back into the hill. It looked to be about 1500 years old. I was lucky enough to meet the denizens of the neighborhood, who were eager to see their wall drawn before it could be destroyed by modernization. I couldn’t go into the Cistern itself because the air was chemically poisonous. This is the first take.
By peering into one of the grilled windows, I caught these dim outlines of Byzantine cistern architecture.
UMUT AT WORK
-Umutulmush Sarnici:-Umut, 16, works in the su depot [water depot] in the Byzantine water tank 2 blocks from the Main Post Office.-TriciVenola ©2011
The Byzantine Water Tank, as it was called by Umut here, was a water storage facility in the hill, complete with cistern and many chambers. It looked to be 4th-6th century, made of brick, whitewashed, hidden behind a much patched and worn wall punctuated with black grilled windows. I meant to daw the wall and only took photos. So far.
THE HIDDEN CISTERN
-Eminonu- Sirkeci “the Hidden Cistern”-2 blocks up the hill from the Main Post Office in a water depot… forgotten.-Unutulmush Sarnici-TriciVenola ©2011
In Los Angeles, a water storage facility has old linoleum, halogen lighting and a cockroach or two. Here in Istanbul, it has a 1500-year-old cistern, with marble columns and brickwork going back into the black centuries. I remember fondly the neighborhood’s enthusiasm for this drawing. They strung up an electrical wire so I could see and brought me cups of tea. I remember the silence seeping from under the hill, the chill chemical smell of the place, its dank beauty glimpsed between tottering towers of prosaic crates. It took about a day to get this drawing.
POST OFFICE ON A MISTY DAY
-The main post office from down the street on a misty white day-2-6-11-Vedat Tek Bey 1909
Spectacular, gleaming through the fog, the Main Post Office as seen between the Grizabella building and the one across the narrow alley. Vedat Tek was the architect for Sultan Abdulhamid. The Post Office started life as a bank, but was given to the people of Istanbul by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the Founder of the Republic. It is now in restoration.
WAITING AT THE P.O.
-Sultan Abdulhamid built this around 1909.-In the Post Office on a cold day.-Waiting at the Post Office-TriciVenola ©2011
This glorious marble lobby has tiers of windows around a stories-high space topped with a skylight in stained glass. It was decorated with the biggest painting of Ataturk I’ve ever seen. The building, designed by Vedat Tek, started as a bank but was given by Ataturk to the people of Istanbul for their main post office. It’s now closed for restoration. The old lobby was a pastiche of antique wood and brass punctuated with computer screens. The wooden writing desks were covered with graffiti, and one could easily imagine Agatha Christie standing at one, in her flowered dress and hat, addressing a manuscript.
LOVE CHILD–Love Child: Jeannie & Hasan with Leyla Jane, Modern Sultan, winter 2011-TriciVenola ©2011 Of course Leyla has flaming red hair, since her parents are a beautiful blond and a handsome brunette. Of course.
-Nasty cold overcast & then a hailstorm but resolved at last into a fine sunny day.-Pretty Rhonda in early April-TriciVenola ©2011
She’s now running a hotel in South America. She’s still pretty.
Us girls in 2011
OSMAN AT MODERN SULTAN -Osman-TriciVenola ©5 Mart 2011 One of my favorite portraits ever. Osman worked for Jeannie and Rhonda at their hotel. He seems to have drawn himself.
EMINE AT MODERN SULTAN–Emina-TriciVenola ©4/11 2011 Emine saw Osman’s portrait and asked for one, so here it is.
ON LEGACY STREET
-This is a favorite drawing for purely personal reasons: As I finished this drawing, my phone rang: Jerry & Kathleen from LA, friends of 30 years I hadn’t seen since I moved here. -150 years old. Was Vakif Han.-Ibrahim Uzen-Vedat Tek-TriciVenola ©2011
So Vedat Tek was the same architect who created the Main Post Office building for Sultan Abdulhamid. This was a han, now a hotel that caters to Arabs. Jerry and Kathleen were a shot of pure joy, a wonderful, unexpected good thing that came during this incandescent drawing nirvana in 2011.
BAYRAM SNOOZING IN THE SHOP-TriciVenola ©2011 Even carpet sellers have to sleep sometime!
-The view is fine from Yavuzlar Bufe in Sirkeci.-This early-20th-century mosque replaced one from 1477.-TriciVenola ©2011
That early 20th-century architecture is downright fanciful. This was probably built in 1909, to go with the big new building that became the main Post Office.
PORTERS IN HOBYAR
These guys are astonishing, picking up piano-sized loads and trucking them all over town.
RUSTEM PASA & FRIENDS -Çukur Han-R, Papazoglu Han-L-Rustem Pasa Camii – Several cold days in Spring 2011- Spice Bazaar-TriciVenola ©2011
Rustem Pasa Camii was built in the 16th century by (architect) Mimar Sinan. Like a Persian pleasure garden, it blooms at the top of many steps in the middle of Tahtakale, near the Spice Bazaar. It’s the most beloved mosque in the area, much frequented by all and sundry, sweetened by several centuries of bright Iznik tiles. Mimar Sinan said that Suleymaniye Mosque, on the hill above, was his masterpiece, but that Rustem Pasa was his heart.
Finally got the perspective right. I love this drawing, but it was no fun to draw. Freezing, and no shadows. These are sixteenth-century hans, in their aged original state. Their beauty is not only a matter of architecture but of integrity. Think of the hands that set those bricks, think of the life seen through those windows.
SOUVENIR TILE FROM MECCA-Tile from Mecca “souvenir” plastered into a wall of antique Izniks just outside the prayer entrance to Rustem pass, and much loved.-Main sects-leaders- special water in mecca- zemzem-TriciVenola ©2011
Everyone coming to pray stopped and smiled at me drawing this, including a tour guide who explained that it’s a painting of Mecca: so many doors, olive oil cruets, minarets, and of course the big black Kaaba in the center. I can just see the Imam, 5 centuries ago, coming back from Haaj with this, and telling the workmen to pry out an Iznik tile at eye level and slap this one in.
INSIDE RUSTEM PASA–Everyone praying happy though it’s cold to the bone in here at Rustem Pasa.-TriciVenola ©2011
Since the Imam was nice enough to invite me into the mosque to draw, I caught this. I’ve always loved this grilled window, which seems to look out on the Middle Ages. While I was drawing, a couple came in the prayer door, clearly having a marital spat. They carefully worked their way around the mosque, staying quiet and respectful despite utter rage. I hope they worked it out!
Saturday at the Spice Bazaar. Ken Brown took this photo at the main intersection. Our feet were barely touching the ground. We made it to the mosque and up the stairs and collapsed in the garden. That was enough for the day!
BABY FACE & CRAZY TILE—[He was] Chugging along very fast through the crowd in the underground passage to Galata Bridge-and when I passed him a startling baby face.-Rustem Pasa Camii where the tiles fell and they put them back up backwards & upside down-enchanting-TriciVenola ©2011
LITTLE SHOP GOES ON FOREVER
-Sen Baharat “the shop that goes on forever.”
It took a couple of days to draw all this, along with the cheery shop manager from Azerbaijan. There are a lot of shops that carry all the spices, but this one just goes on and on, rooms behind rooms, and downstairs is a Byzantine han ringed with more storerooms. Once there was a palace here, as attested by the stonework.
-This guy is much better as a drawing.
When I drew this, I thought he was unfriendly but it turns out he is simply hard of hearing. He’s lovely. This is the patron of Sen Baharat, the Forever Shop in the Spice Bazaar.
The han downstairs from Sen Baharat, looking up into the 16th-century stonework.
Cold day in the Spice Bazaar, where centuries collide.
THE FAMILY BUSINESS
-#51 in the Spice Bazaar-Bilge Kadioglu got her Master’s Stateside in Project Management- and this is her project: the family business, eat. 1886. The painting is her great-grandfather.
Ucuzcular: Bilge “say it like ‘Bill Gates'” was delighted at her store portrait. She set me on a stool in the corner next to the dried fruit and nuts with full grazing privileges. I had a swell time drawing for three days, and put on about five pounds. Bilge and her brother Ahmet are still going strong, as you can see by looking up “Ucuzcular” in Trip Advisor.
One of the entrances to the Spice Bazaar.
-Osman Abali in Papazoglu Han near Rustem Pasa in the Spice Bazaar-Paris the Dog-TriciVenola April 2011
An all-time favorite. Drawing the Byzantine brickwork behind the 20th century Turkish ad hoc electrical wiring took two sessions of about 3 hours each. Then I went upstairs and there was Osman in his old plaid coat, collecting money for the WC. His head just fit at the apex of the two arches. He seemed to draw himself. All this glory of wiring and brick is plastered over now, for this is a working han. Osman has gone to his reward. I’m so glad I drew it all when I could.
PAPAZOGLU HAN IN PROGRESS -TriciVenola -April 2011-Osman Abali in Papazoglu Han, near Rustem Pasa
OTTOMAN UP TOP
-Drawing this the day they got Bin Laden.-Papazoglu Han-The foundation is Byzantine but it’s Ottoman up top.-TriciVenola ©2011
Mr Mehmet was watching me draw the Byzantine brickwork in “Papazoglu Han,” so I caught him and finished with the arches later. I have prints of both on my wall, hung so that this one is above and to the left of Papazoglu Han.
Denizens of the Han told me it’s on Byzantine foundations, as there was a castle here almost two thousand years ago.
Nobody here believed or cared that the US government had finally captured and killed Bin Laden. Nobody but some Peace Corps volunteers I ran into. We sang “Ding Dong The Witch is Dead” all over the Spice Bazaar.
At Papazoglu Han.
TRUE LOVE 84
-SEKS EN DÖRT-This drawing elicits gasps from young Turks perusing my sketchbook- Boy is, he famous and man, is she beautiful, and wow, are they crazy about each other. A happy session in Cihangir.-Seksen dort-TriciVenola ©2011
Back in 2000, I’d given my card to a beautiful 16-year-old Hungarian girl my boyfriend was trying to use to make me jealous. I’d long since broken up with him when she contacted me via email, asking advice on life questions. I answered her and forgot about it. In 2011 she found me on Facebook, said the correspondence had helped her, and that she’d been doing volunteer work in Turkey and was married to this Turkish rock star. We met in Cihangir. Bread on the water.
IAN FIRST TAKE
One of many drawings of Pastor Ian Sherwood of Christchurch, the Crimean Memorial Church. Tommy Cat is playing In and Out the Windows on the marble pulpit, all during the sermon. The 150+year-old pulpit is made from marble from all of the seven churches of St Paul, all in Turkey. Pastor Ian has a fine Irish baritone, and Tommy Cat, now resting in the Parsonage churchyard, had a fine life.
RHONDA ON THE VERGE-Rhonda looked so cute sitting on the porch I just HAD to draw her.-Summer-TriciVenola ©2011 Cute but exhausted. The Modern Sultan Hotel experience wrung both Jeannie and Rhonda out. She was staying up to all hours to make the nightly report to the state, grabbing a few hours sleep on the dayroom couch, and rolling out before dawn to book the first guests and make room for breakfast. A couple months after I drew this, they sold the hotel, resulting in the big smile in the photo below. Happy for them, but oh! I miss them!!
HAGIA SOPHIA AGAPE
-TriciVenola ©2011 A very happy drawing experience. A good friend commissioned this 50 x 70 cm plein air drawing of Hagia Sophia. He’s Greek-Cypriot-American, a no-nonsense structural engineer with a great love for Istanbul, and he said, “Draw it straight. No slants, no seagulls, no closeups.” OK! Simply the grande old dame herself, wearing her minarets like two pairs of fabulous earrings. I spent a week drawing this from the corner table of Seven Hills Restaurant, and I drew the waiters as well, as they had been most generous with me, sitting there every day for hours.
THE WAITERS AT SEVEN HILLS-The waiters at Seven Hills Istanbul who let me draw Ayasofya 5 days from 1-5 at the corner table-TriciVenola 28 June 2011 –THEY ARE-Fatih -Abbas -Nazmi -Zeki-Ugur -Baris -Ubeyt -Rahmi -Sedat FROM-Nemrut- Diyarbakir- Istanbul -Siirt -Ardahan -Siirt -Siirt -Siirt- Diyarbakir
Every single one of these nice guys posed for this group picture, and I gave prints to everyone. They were mostly from towns in Eastern Turkey, with one from Istanbul. I hope they all sent them home to their mothers!