• Art / Design / Craft,  Books & Lit

    Reading List: Port Magazine

    In the contest of print versus pixel for my reading time, this is a victory for the old school. Port Magazine is a magazine for lovers of print. However, this doesn’t make it fussy or stuffy, or the slightest bit behind the times. This is merely a testament that print is still a very relevant, far from dead medium. A lot of magazines, rather like newspapers, these days feel like vanity, or seem to be struggling with their transition from print to pixel. Quite frankly a lot of them should abandon the paper they’re printed on. This doesn’t seem the case to me with Port. This is an assured magazine. And it has to do not just with the crisp paper it’s printed on, or the elegant design, but the content. Yes, this magazine has content, and it’s so good, I’m almost relieved it’s published on a quarterly basis. This…

  • Art / Design / Craft

    Ghost City

    “GHOST CITY” PART OF LUK BERGHE’S UTOPIA COLLECTION. There’s something magnetic to me about art that explores architecture, especially when it’s concerned with abandoned architecture. Vacant seats and derelict buildings always leave me wondering about the dreamers who built and inhabited them, and have since moved on. Have they left us a gift? A window into time? Or a haunted trap, singing of someone else’s sorrow? Enough of my feeble poetry …  that’s why I’m looking forward to tomorrow evening’s opening at the Architectural Research Studio MARS in Istanbul, where Luk Berghe’s fascinating, apocalyptic looking watercolor on paper prints will be on display. As a special bonus, Berghe, also a performance artist, will be adding to the spectacle by opening the show with a piece appropriately entitled: “Occupy.” Hope to see you there. GHOST CITY: UTOPIA COLLECTION BY LUK BERGHE Opening: 19:00 Thursday, March 1, 2012 Closing: April 28, 2012 MARS…

  • Art / Design / Craft,  People,  Places

    The sounds, colours and vibrations of the universe.

    PROMOTING OPEN AIR WAVES AND FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION. I recently had a chance to take a peek inside the Harbiye studios from which Istanbul’s AÇIK (Open) Radyo 94.9 is broadcast. On the airwaves since 1995, the station will soon move to a new home in Tophane. It was Simon Johnson, editor-in-chief of That Magazine, and co-host of Saturday night’s 10 pm world music program, who suggested I take a look behind the scenes. COFFEE AND TEA AVAILABLE BASED ON THE HONOR SYSTEM. AÇIK’s studios are quite a contrast compared to those I’m used to. Its studio glass is yellowed and hazed with cigarette (ahem) smoke, empty beer bottles have been left atop consoles, there are torn walls, desks missing drawers, and just about every square inch of wall, glass or air duct is stuck with decals, making it feel more like the basement of a high school friend even five floors up. But then…

  • Art / Design / Craft,  People

    Emel Kurhan’s Inspiration

    FORMER FASHION DESIGNER & NEW ARTISTIC VOICE EMEL KURHAN. Long before I had a chance to sit down and chat with the former fashion designer turned artist, I certainly noticed her stand-out presence. It’s not just for the obvious reasons, her cool clothes and her looks, but for her personal style—her manners and her ready laughter, her whimsy. Emel Kurhan always seemed to me like someone who knows how to make life enjoyable through the gift of an active imagination. Making life better through creativity is a theme this site is devoted to exploring, and one of the things that’s refreshing is that Emel takes her work — but not herself — seriously. Which is really important, as well as healthy, when your work comes from such a personal place.  MY PERSONAL FAVORITE FROM EMEL’S PREVIOUS EXHIBITION TRAVELING WITHOUT MOVING. Her previous exhibition, Traveling Without Moving used mixed media such as neon,…

  • Art / Design / Craft,  People

    Sema Topaloglu: creating the artifacts of tomorrow?

    THE SIGNATURE MOTIF OF A FANTASTIC TALENT. Dear Mayor of Istanbul, I’d like to sincerely thank you and the city for the ongoing work you’re doing upgrading public transportation. I’ve lived here just over six years now, and I’ve seen a vast improvement and many positive changes. Automobile traffic its resulting pollution is a huge problem, and the more you do to unclog the streets and clean up the air, the better. In addition, you’ve made it possible for me to go from Taksim Square to my home in Yeniköy in under 40 minutes, mostly thanks to the underground. This means that rather than sitting in traffic with horns blaring and inching along at a snail’s pace, I can instead be home and spend valuable time with my daughter. This makes a huge difference to my quality of life, and I trust, hers. That’s why I don’t want to sound…

  • Art / Design / Craft,  Books & Lit

    The Hermetic Museum Alchemy & Mysticism

    © 2011 TASCHEN GmbH Santa Claus has many powers, but he’s not a mind reader. That’s why I had to give myself a little Christmas present today after discovering The Hermetic Museum: Alchemy & Mysticism by Alexander Roob at my local bookstore. As you’d expect from a Taschen book it’s lavishly illustrated, and by far the most appealing visual guide to alchemy I’ve had in my hands. Its author, who studied painting at the University of Fine Arts, Berlin has been teaching at the Academy of Fine Arts, Stuttgart since 2002. In my opinion, no self-respecting student of alchemy should be without it. www.taschen.com  © 2011 TASCHEN GmbH © 2011 TASCHEN GmbH  © 2011 TASCHEN GmbH

  • Art / Design / Craft,  Photography,  Places

    The Hidden Han.

    THIS HAN IS HOME TO SILVERSMITHS AND OTHER METAL WORKERS’ WORKSHOPS. I stumbled into this old han back in the summer and have since returned. It’s exactly the sort of place that makes me love Istanbul. Located in Sultanahmet it’s out of the way, cracked and crumbling, easily overlooked but still thriving with life. Part of the reason I’m being vague about its name and location is because I’m afraid some crass developer will come in, knock it down and plunk some horrible hotel or shopping mall in its place. AN ALATURCA LAMP-MAKER’S WORKSHOP. Right now it’s home to all sorts of ustalar (tradesmen), mainly working in metals like silver, copper and brass. There’s a massive courtyard in the center, and just about every bolt hole is occupied by some form of life or trade.

  • Art / Design / Craft,  Places

    Çukurcuma: a garden of antique delights.

    ASLAN IS HERE, BUT THIS ISN’T QUITE NARNIA. If you want to pore over relics from the near and distant past for inspiration, amusement or serious resale, there’s a treasure trove right in the middle of Istanbul. ISTANBUL’S ANTIQUE DISTRICT IS FULL OF HIDDEN GEMS, INCLUDING THE BUILDINGS. Yet despite its charm, I’ve pointedly circumnavigated Çukurcuma (Chu-kur-juma) until recently.

  • Art / Design / Craft

    Dhoku: rugs, reborn.

    One of Turkey’s most creative enterprises resurrects classic designs for a new century by taking rundown rugs, hard-done-by halis, and death row kilims and rehabilitating them for a chance to be trodden on all over again by the well-heeled. Five years ago it wasn’t always easy to find something genuinely Turkish and interesting for the home which was also genuinely different. Moreover, finding something to give to a Turk, who grew up surrounded by what a foreigner might consider new and exotic was even more of a challenge. Then an actress friend and neighbor introduced me to Mehmet Gureli and his original Ethnicon line of patchwork kilims.