The time is fast approaching for the opening of my solo exhibition Sing, O Goddess, the Wrath, the culmination of a 1-month residency in Istanbul which has been a fantastic experience. You're very welcome to attend the opening next Saturday 1 September 2018 at 7pm at Tasarım Bakkalı (Rasimpaşa Mahallesi, Uzun Hafız Sokak, 101/A Yeldeğirmeni, 34716 Kadiköy, Istanbul, see the Facebook event here and a useful map here), which will probably last for a few hours. Thereafter, the exhibition will remain open Saturdays and Sundays 12-6pm (closed Monday to Friday) until 30 September.
My residency project has developed in a slightly different direction than I initially envisaged. My original intention was to work in the same spirit as in my ongoing Valencia and Dénia series, working from physical and emotional impressions of my surroundings to produce playful abstract and semi-abstract pieces. However, as I started doing research into Turkey's fascinating history I became drawn to an old obsession, the Classical past and Homer's epics The Iliad and The Odyssey. I decided to visit the ancient site of Troy (on the Aegean shore of Turkey, about 250 Km Southwest of Istanbul) as part of my research and the pull towards a project based on the human figure became irresistible. Homer's works are considered to have been inspired by an actual expedition by Mycenaean Greeks against the city of Troy (wealthy because of its strategic location overlooking the Dardanelles strait) around the year 1,200 BC. Part of the fascination of Homer's poems is that they turn abstract historical facts into human drama overflowing with feeling, describing with astonishing lyricism an often shockingly brutal reality.
As I started drawing and writing furiously in my sketchbook and producing studies, the size of these prototypical characters translated into figures of expanding scale in the studio. At that point I took a few days to travel across Western Anatolia to the city of Çanakkale on the Dardanelles and the nearby site of Troy (which was a fantastic experience), as well as to the city of Izmir (ancient Smyrna) and the awesome archaeological site of Ephesus nearby. Since coming back to the studio in Istanbul I've been extremely busy working on the final pieces for the show which have turned out to be on a slightly larger than human scale. It is the deep emotions embodied by Homer's characters that these pieces attempt to come to terms with.
It is my first visit to Turkey and this month has been absolutely brilliant. Emre and Işıl, the team behind Tasarım Bakkalı, have been running this alternative gallery in the Kadiköy quarter of Istanbul for over three years now and developed the residency programme as the next step forward. They have been amazing hosts and have been incredibly patient and helpful with every aspect of the project and my stay so a massive thanks to them from here.
It is just possible that something else might develop in Turkey as a continuation of the project but as of now it is still a suggestion. Watch this space.
UPDATE: I am happy to report that (despite last-minute nerves) the exhibition opening was incredibly fun and successful both in terms of attendance (with many new faces, according to Emre and Işıl) and positive feedback on the work. I had memorable conversations with people who had clearly found the project thought-provoking. All in all, a very enjoyable evening. Now that I am back in London I feel incredibly energised for future work.