Yesterday I had a very exciting meeting with Susan of Hula Juice Bar on Victoria Street. Ooh la la. We both left the meeting feeling utterly ecstatic about our plan for August.
You may be thinking ‘But wait, Cassandra. Aren’t you preparing for a show for Urban Outfitters in August?’ And to this question I would say ‘Why yes, thank you so much for remembering that. It means quite a lot, actually. So what’s going to happen is that I’m exhibiting in two, yes TWO, different venues in August.’ And then you may want to follow that up with ‘But Cassandra, what about print and textile market saturation? Aren’t you afraid that people are going to get a little annoyed/sick of seeing your work all over the place?’ And to this I would respond ‘Insteresting that you should say that as I had that same worry myself. With that said, both shows are going to be entirely different. Urban Outfitters works will feature a completely different type of architecture treated with different types of fabrics and stitching whilst the show at Hula will be based on architecture around the Grassmarket. I will be bringing in another element to the Hula exhibition works, an element that I cannot wait to start experimenting with as I feel this is going to take my work in an interesting direction.’
I hope that you will be able to find time in your busy August schedules to see them both. As I mentioned, the work is going off in one direction for UO and in quite another direction for Hula. I think that I shall be busy the next few months experimenting and developing my current style. I am so thrilled at the prospect.
I couldn’t leave this blog without a post about the brilliant patterns I saw on my tour around the city of Istanbul. The Harem at Topkapi Palace was resplendent with colours and patterns. Every room seemed to be more detailed, more grand than the last.
The Hagia Sophia also had beautiful colours – that amazing blue found everywhere in Istanbul, married with a warm deep yellow-gold. As there wasn’t much light in the Hagia Sophia (not enough to take good quality photos with my crap quality camera), I was not able to bring back very many good photos of the details.
I may have gotten a little excited about the patterns and colours when I purchased far too many scarves at the Bazaar. I’ve only the one neck so why did I need to buy five coverings for it? I must now go and learn new ways to tie these things or I shall never bring them out from my closet. You know what it’s like when you’re on holiday. Everything looks amazing when you’re there, but when you bring it back you suddenly realise you have no use for shoddily made flawed pottery in garish colours.
I have returned from my great trip abroad. With me I have brought my new travel companions Cold and Earache. They are not welcome and I’m hoping they take the hint and take a hike.
Did Istanbul meet my expectations? you ask. Good question. It was very much… itself. The first day my friend and I saw the Hagia Sophia and I tell you, that inner space is breathtaking.
It was always such a relief to see Hagia Sophia’s warm terracotta pink and orange form whenever we were making our way back to the hotel after a tiring day of seeing the sites. As our hotel was situated in a small street tucked away behind her, it was a wonderful landmark to show us that rest was just around the corner.
We of course saw the Blue Mosque, situated just across a couple green lawns and a street from the Hagia Sophia. The person that commissioned the Blue Mosque wanted to have a building made that would rival the Hagia Sophia. Yes, the minerets are big and the tiles inside cast a beautiful blue hue over everything. With that said, in the Hagia Sophia you feel embraced with the warm golds and glistening mosiacs. In the Blue Mosque I felt cold, but impressed by the details.
Not only were the sites wonderful to behold, the food was amazing. I am sure my teeth our now riddled with cavities as I ate obscene amounts of baklava. Anna and I opted for Turkish cuisine at ever turn. We ate pancakes with spinache, mezze, Malti (ravioli with minced lamb, spiced sauce and a dollop of yoghurt), corn baked at a stand, and breads and tea from one of the many food stands dotted around the city.
Navigating our way through the narrow streets was sometimes hectic, claustrophobic and after awhile, the calling out of Turkish men shop owners and workers at restaurants did get a bit grating. ‘Where are you from?’ was the phrase of choice to hook you into conversation. Or they would guess. ‘You sisters?’ and then to me ‘Are you French?’ which I took to be a ginormous compliment. To be mistaken for looking French? Heck yeah, I’ll have that. Sometimes rather inventive things would be said to us. Anna received a ‘Are you real or are you dream?’ and I the ‘You dropped something; you dropped my heart.’ Puh-lease. To be honest, I kept my sunglasses on most of the time and put on my I’m-not-listening-to-you harsh expression and pushed my way through the crowds. I must say, though, that on the day I ventured into the town alone, not one person bothered me. So, I suppose there is a certain level of respect for the lone woman traveller. Maybe they realise it isn’t nice to be hollered at when you are on your own. Or perhaps it was Anna that was getting all the compliments :).
What we didn’t expect was to inadvertently wander onto the set of the latest James Bond movie, Skyfall. Apparently, they had been filming around the Grand Bazaar and the New Mosque. We arrived on the scene either before or after, as we did not see the dishy Daniel Craig in the flesh. There were ‘Polis’ cordons, crew vans, and fake stalls complete with painted sponge items that I think were supposed to resemble some kind of edible item, like a fruit or something.
On our final day, we took the Tramway across the Galata Bridge to visit the other side. We took a tour through the Modern Art Gallery where I saw a very beautiful video of dancers, precise, strong, moving to a soundtrack that I wish I could get ahold of. We then took the Fernicular up to Taksim Square. One of the streets linking Taksim Square to the Galata Tower is supposed to be amazing for shopping. As we weren’t really there to shop, we instead people-watched from a couple coffee tables, enjoying the variety of faces and clothes, teas and coffees.
I did spend quite a lot of time drawing and painting on site. As I’m still a little new to painting watercolours on site, I’m not entirely pleased with my results. I tried to not only capture the buildings, but also the feeling of warmth or energy or light. Hopefully, within the next couple of years I will actually be able to do all of those things. With that said, here is a photo of some of the works I created whilst in Istanbul:
Inside the Blue Mosque, your eyes are drawn to the beautiful blue tiles that cover every surface except for the floor. You can feel the soft carpet through your socks and for some reason, that feels very comforting. There are crowds of people to navigate through and around and on more than one occasion, I lost my little friend Anna.
We spent a good amount of time in that mosque, heads covered in scarves out of respect for some one else’s religion. In a way I did feel like I was trespassing or that I was looking in on someone else’s faith as a form of entertainment. I am thankful for the opportunity to have been able to experience such wonderful architecture and beauty.
And so, the rest of the day was spent walking, seeing Turkish and Islamic artworks, painting and sketching on location at a coffee shop them back to the Spice Bazaar.
When we returned to the hotel we were asked ‘Have you decided?’ This was in reference to asking about booking a treatment the previous day.
‘Have you decided?’, when out of its original context, is such a powerful question. I mean, while going through the motions of living your day, aren’t you always pondering something? I’m always trying to decide something and mentally rifling through the options, pros and cons. Do I take this course of action and if so, here is the list of things to consider.
‘Have you decided?’ stopped me in my tracks and I immediately knew the answer.
My friend, Anna, and I have been on sensory overload since stepping outside Ataturk International Airport yesterday.
The architecture, the food, the offerings of ‘something nice for you lady, maybe you want silver’ and so on and around the corner, up hills, down streets, colour colour colour wherever you look.
Our favourite lines so far:
‘You dropped something.’
Me, looking confused.
‘You dropped my heart.’
For the past four years, my good friend Anna and I have been dreaming of taking that big ole jet airliner to Istanbul and finally, oh yes finally, it is going to happen. Isn’t it a wonderful thing when you can turn a ‘wouldn’t it be nice to’ into ‘wasn’t that fantastic when …?’ I am certain that Anna will be the most delightful of travel companions as every time I’ve visited her in Sweden I find the experience easy, fun, restful, exciting, you know, all the things that travelling and seeing friends should be.
Recently I acquired The Art of Urban Sketching, recommended by a couple very talented and lovely artist friends of mine. Several months ago, Pete had given me the wonderful gift of a self-contained watercolour paint set, compact and fit into a tin not much bigger than a post card. And so, we set out into the world of Edinburgh buildings and people and cars and streets and he very kindly helped me to discover the fun of drawing and painting on location. I have since ventured out on my own, cramming myself into a corner table with a good aspect.
There are so many things I like about this book. Of course it is chalk full of glorious illustration after glorious illustration. So many styles represented. So many hours of work and love and care gone into this. I like it that for each illustration, the author has listed materials used and time spent on each sketch. I like it that the contributors to this book are found all over the world. There were some sketches of Kansas City which I particularly enjoyed as that city was my home for two years.
I am excited about this little adventure. Life is a beautiful thing when it conspires to make great things happen. And to follow along from my previous post, this is certainly the way to live it for me. For now. Whilst my siblings are churning out nephew after nephew after nephew, I am doing my own thing and feeling grateful for the opportunity. They are growing families. I am growing adventures.
Here I am, just a handful of days away from Istanbul; my travel book, sketch pads, paint set and anticipation at the ready.
Yesterday I picked up on an article in the Guardian that really made me stop in my tracks, make a cup of tea and consider my life. I actually spend way too many hours doing this; working from home does afford me a lot of time for introspection. This can be both a good thing and a very unhelpful thing. It’s easy to spend an entire morning sewing with my hands, whilst my mind is buzzing around with failed plans, new plans, with a little bit of worry thrown in to keep it interesting.
1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
“This was the most common regret of all. When people realise that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it.”
The last 18 months has seen major change in my life. I finally decided to take hold of this artistic ambition of mine and make something of it. The Connecting Thread – a personal psychogeography was certainly a step in the direction of taking my career seriously. It was life changing, actually. I was worried about what to do after the tour ended in December 2011, but it seems that I hit the ground running at full speed ahead. More plans. Big ideas. Let’s move this forward at break neck speed because now I feel that to rest, to stop, to sit and keep doing what feels comfortable just is NOT the answer for now.
When I was a teenager living in the middle of all those fields that stretched out into forever in all directions, when I was thinking of the life I wanted to live and dreaming, I told myself I never wanted to live a mediocre existence. Somehow, without even thinking or planning, my life has been anything but mediocre. I never want to feel that I have half- lived, or that I allowed fear of failure and lack of self belief keep me from living a life that resonates. And so. I can almost guarantee that on my death bed, I will not have to worry about the Number 1. regret of the dying.
It hasn’t been easy. There have been stretches of months and months when to live a life that’s true to myself has been excruciating. I just had to believe that it would make sense on the other side.
Right. Now to work. I’ve got some pieces for a sweet little cafe in the Grassmarket to plan.