Watercolour; No longer available
I was brought up to think of Istanbul as Constantinoupoli Constantine's great City ( I Polis, H Πόλις, η Πόλη) and the lighthouse of Greek civilization. As I was growing up, the history and the geography of my adolescence revolved around the loss of that city. The 'City' was and is, however, above all else the birthplace of my father.
The work I present here is not about possession, nationalism, or any kind of political propaganda. The 'City' is at peace, and that is enough. I have created a map that speaks to me. It is a map of reconciliation with the past. An exercise in examining the history of a place and of making a personal homage. I hope others will also connect with this viewpoint and with my particular map.
I had been meaning to make a sort of map of Istanbul/Constantinople for some time, but life got in the way, as well as other ideas and distractions. I was also daunted by the prospect. The modern City is a large conglomeration of buildings and monuments jumbled up in a way that makes it difficult to see and understand its structure and shape. In researching the project in the past (looking at maps, historical documents, and reconstructions) I was overwhelmed not only by the diversity of the material, personal interpretations of historical monuments and so on. The complexity was visual but also emotional. My father’s stories of a multicultural Istanbul affected me much more than I realised. They filled me with a kind of romanticism about a plural society where diversity and harmony were not mutually exclusive. I say this even though his writing includes the catastrophe of war, the displacement of Christians from Asia Minor and the awareness of himself as a displaced person.