Sunday, June 27, 2010

light through a straw hat

Tilly hadn't been to the Botero exhibit (and if you haven't, hurry up— the show ends on the 18th of July!), so we sauntered down Istiklal towards the Pera Museum to swoon over the luscious curves and colours of lovers and circus clowns. We stopped along the way for a quick lunch at Helvetia in Tünel. For a mere ten lira, you get to sample five mouth-watering dishes on display from about a dozen. I went with lentil patties, or mercimek köfte, meatballs, a carrot salad, some simmered greens and mücver, a vegetable fritter. Two lavish dollops of yoghurt, and I was in heaven.

As we wandered through the gallery, we fawned over brush strokes of cadmium yellow and red, impossible pinks and greens. With our minds spinning, conversations ran from travelling to crushes, to those fleeting moments in life that can be called nothing but perfection: the first sip of tea, lying in cool grass, the light filtered through a straw hat over your face while dozing in the sunlight. Life is full of these small, seemingly insignificant moments, and if we take the time to notice and appreciate them, our life is coloured a little more vividly.

In a little over a week, I'm off to Nepal— a place I've dreamt of since I was a little girl. I'll be volunteering at a school for a month, living with a local family. There will be little to no internet access, which will provide me with plenty of time to catch those light-through-a-straw-hat moments, in a place that seemed only possible in my wildest of dreams.

Wide, fearless strokes, precious details, and a vivid palette.

spin, dervish

I was pulled into blue cloth spinning
My heart into threads, wound around the twisting body
Of a stranger I felt tied to.

Monday, June 21, 2010



With my dear friend Tilly back in town, nights are fabulously long and bursting with lively conversation, intense discussions, delicious food, wine, and some kind of magic. It seems as though whenever we hang out together, something in the universe aligns and we fall witness to extraordinary things. We began the day with a stroll down Istiklal, watching some new street performers play what sounded like traditional Turkish and Gypsy music. Generally street performers fail to hold my attention, but this little troupe of five bohemian twenty and thirty-somethings were so compelling, we stood and watched them a while before heading off to a rooftop café for some çay.

Pretty much every building around Istiklal has a rooftop terrace where you can watch the city breathe and sigh while sipping on a Turkish coffee or a little glass of tea. We climbed the stairs of a lovely place in Galata, just past the tower, that I had walked past a thousand times without noticing, and selected a free table in the shade with a stunning view of the Bosphorus. The seagull on the roof in the picture below decided it would be a great idea to sneak up and bite Tilly's toe for no apparent reason— how we didn't see it coming is a mystery, as seagulls are quite large.

Hunger crept into our bellies as stealthily as the seagull, so we made our way through the back streets of Beyoğlu towards Hanımeli in Cihangir, for a bit of home cooking. We stumbled upon the opening night of a most marvellous exhibition of drawings by artist Gabrielle Le Roux, Proudly African and Transgender. On each of the drawn portraits, the subject, a transgender African activist, wrote about his or her struggle and hope, about who they were as a person. The pieces were so powerful and visually stunning, Tilly and I felt that universal alignment, lucky to have happened to be walking down the right road at the right time to have caught this show. I must say I was surprised— happily surprised, that a show of such subject matter was being exhibited in Turkey. Granted, this part of Istanbul is more open-minded than other parts, but I would have thought that the topic of transgender would be something so taboo here, that a show like this wouldn't be possible. I'm very proud that it was. Istanbul is full of surprises.

Our minds sparked by the show, we navigated our way down narrow curving streets to Hanımeli, where we feasted upon various salads, stewed zucchini and içli köfte, a sort of stuffed meatball with bulghur. I can't sing the praises of this little restaurant enough— the food is absolutely delicious.

Night fell, and we wandered off to a rooftop bar for a cocktail and discussions about life, love, art and adventure. On our way back down Istiklal, the same performers had started a dance party that was taking over the street.

Music, voices and the clapping of hands echoed into the night, fluttering with the wings of a hundred orange moths, that seemed drawn not to the street lamps, but the beat of a drum.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

five parts to a great night

1. Hop on a ferry with friends to the Asian side.
2. Dine at the gastronomical perfection that is Çiya.

almond seller
3. Sip on Turkish coffee, lightly sweetened, at Fazıl Bey'in Türk Kahvesi.
4. Converse, chat, laugh and discuss.
5. Head back to Europe on the very last ferry.

barcelona in ink

Yesterday, Nina said something that I feel accurately sums up the experience I had in Barcelona— "there is a before and an after Barcelona." I had such an amazing time exploring, meeting talented artists, making new friends and reflecting on my life decisions and recent and ongoing artist's block. Being able to talk and listen to Lapin, Nina and Miguel was the most valuable and memorable part of this trip, and thumbing through their sketchbooks was incredibly inspiring. I've missed being around other illustrators, artists and designers— the exchange of ideas and art with others is so necessary for inspiration and motivation. I feel revived.

Had the volcano in Iceland not erupted when it did, I wouldn't have met Lapin, Nina or Miguel— the timing would have been off. What I thought was bit of bad luck turned out to be the best I could have hoped for. Indeed, I feel that my life and art post-Barcelona is moving to a new beat.

Thank you Lapin and Lapinette, thank you Nina, thank you Miguel, thank you Barcelona.

Lapin draws me on the terrace.
See Lapin's sketch of me on his blog.

a last look

colourThe corner store


mercat del encants


Three illustrators awoke one morning and made their way through the quiet industrial jungle, towards a market of fleas.

At the market, a kind silver-haired man offered them a paper cone of sugary fried dough sticks in exchange for a couple of shiny coins.

The sweet golden treats were called churros, and were the finest to be had— crunchy and sugary on the outside, soft and warm on the inside. Our three illustrators gobbled them up with delight, as they wandered through the labyrinth of obsolete electronics, forgotten books and unwanted china.

Arabic, Catalan and Spanish filled the air like birdsong, as the three searched for treasures hidden beneath the heaps of stuff, struggling to find the tiniest piece of shade from the Mediterranean sun.

After bargaining with sun-browned wrinkled faces, our three set off in search of something delicious and cooling, a bowl of garlicky gazpacho, from a nearby café. As they selected the little table under the deer head, the lovely Julie appeared and joined the trio for the feast. The bowls were enormous, dripping with condensation from the warm air, and filled to the brim with the chilled soup. Satisfied and comfortably cool, the four stepped out into the afternoon, ready for their next adventure.


Oh Miró, Miró, Miró— how I love you.