Tuesday, 30 January 2018


 Not all the treasures of Istanbul are above ground. 
Some of the awe inspiring structures that the Byzantines left behind, are the cisterns below the city; great cavernous spaces for the storage of water.  The Basilica Cistern is the best known one & is consequently a major tourist attraction. It has also featured in a few big budget movies, but our first Cistern experience was in the quieter 'Cistern Of 1001 Columns'.

In fact, we were the only ones there!

 This is what I said about it in my travel blog at the time;

"...we came upon the Cistern of 1001 columns & were the only ones there, except for the guys running the cafe.  We sat down with another Turkish tea , lapped up the tranquility& listened to classical music bounce off these ancients columns...along with the drips! It was  a treat."

'Treat' was an understatement!!
The soft golden red light, the narrow bricked ceiling, the music, the drips & drinking Turkish mint tea in tulip shaped glasses. To think that this incredible space had been there since the 4th century! It was quite magical & so... naturally... I wanted to focus on this experience for my art project this week.

 However, focus wasn't in great supply! 
The weather had been particularly hot & I hadn't been sleeping well.  Because my workroom is not air conditioned, I'd had to do my working out in the living area.  Being a creature of habit, this new location made me a bit unsettled & fractious & grumpy &....well, I'm sure you can imagine.  

I've shown you this spread from my sketch book (above) to encourage those of you who don't always produce nice, neat, cohesive preliminary drawings ! 
On this particular day, this scrabble of scribbles was all I could muster, but it was enough to proceed with.

 Instead of my fabric stash, I went to one of my many scrap bins for pieces that I could use to remind me of that fabulous brickwork. 
In the sorting & deciding process, I was looking for a lighter colour & I remembered that I had some tea dyed fabric left over from a series of art pieces I completed a few years ago.  This was perfect, it was not only the right colour, but it imbued this piece with reference to the tea drinking part of the whole experience.

 My design could have been presented in two rows of three, however, I decide to make it a little more interesting by creating three rows of three in the format above.  I worked out my layers & cut them each to the size of the space they were about to dwell in. 

There were to be two different outline fabrics.  For consistancy, I chose to keep the second layer all  the same fabric.  It was a faded pinky cotton that had designs scattered across it that were reminescent of the designs found on  Turkish tiles.  I do like there to be connection in the componants of my work, even if I'm the only one aware of their symbolism & relationship.  It was this  layer that I needed to sew the outlines on first.

 After that, the top layers were carefully sewn on.

It was then time for the cutting back to begin!

Although I would have liked to have got more of a curve into the edges above, this was the best I could do within this size of the design, without compromising the effectiveness of the 'bricks'.

To this I now wanted to add a frame to the centre, because I'd come up with something I felt quite excited about putting in the middle! Out came needle & thread.

As I mentioned earlier, part of the exquisite experience was the slow sipping of tea under the brick domed ceiling of this ancient cistern. Although my tea dyed fabric made the perfect lighter sections  ceilings, I also wanted to refer to the tulip shaped tea glasses that we sipped from.

Therefore, I started playing with the shape of the glassware, trying to transform it into my very own tulip-teacup  caligraphy. 

Choosing my favourites & a fine paint brush, I squeezed a dollop of gold paint onto my palette & carefully added these little treasure symbols.

This is the end result & I am so happy with it.  It does bring back a sense of the experience & atmosphere in that Cistern setting.  I love it...can't stop staring at it! What a great way to end a project, after starting it feeling so very frazzled.

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