I often paint images of people which are illustrations of a time or a story. I usually invent the faces or change them to make them unique.  I do this so that my characters are not seen as portraits.  They are tales of a moment in time or a set of circumstances or a history that I find fascinating and for which I need a symbol, a face to capture something or what I am trying to recount. In the images above, ‘The Courtyard’ depicts a sun-drenched archway and a young man of indeterminate age. It is set in Spain and reflects the movement of Arab and sub-Saharan people into Andalucía, in Spain. The historical period known as Al-Andalus, which refers to the Muslim-ruled territories on the Iberian Peninsula from 711 to 1492. I was trying to imagine what his life was like and how he fitted into the complex network of relationships in a time when the Abrahamic faiths had not yet become so adversarial in that part of the world. It depicts a time of relative calm, even for an outsider working in the palace, perhaps in the palace scriptorium.

In ‘Silk Routes’ I painted a sun-sculpted Afghani man, in a Byzantine silk ornamental vest.  I place him around 1250 CE. The Byzantines exploited the production of silk which was manufactured in vast quantities to supply the demands of the Empire.  The Polis would have been teaming with merchants of all nationalities, Iranians, Afghans, Central Asian peoples, and many others. I wanted to capture a moment in the life of the unknown merchant; his ageing face, the harsh lines in his skin, reflecting the hundreds of punishing journeys and the movement of goods across vast distances.

In ‘The Apprentice’ I show a much later history, after the fall of Byzantium to the Ottomans. Set in the early 1910’s a young man with a Fez looks at the viewer, his eyes tired for his age, his head covering concealing his true religion.  He is in my ‘story’ a Christian Greek apprentice working at the shop of a Turkish shoemaker one of the many small businesses, perhaps near the old and still surviving church of Saint Stephanos. This is based on my father’s stories of the old City.