Friday, January 16, 2015

Trici Venola - Drawing on Istanbul

It was a delight to meet Trici, first in New Town then next at the Crimea Memorial near the Galata Tower in Istanbul.
“I mostly draw in the winter because I’m so busy guiding in the summer.’  We’d been invited  for lunch with Father Ian and others from the Christ Church.  A continuation of the normal after church coffee and tea.  I loved the area that Trici walked me through. “They often don’t realize that once you destroy something old you can never make it old again.'
It’s been Trici's passion to record the out of the way ancient bits.  “They want to put up a high-rise parking lot complex in this area but it’s full of old ruins.  As well it’s a vibrant community of cafe’s  where artists and locals congregate.  The idea of a flashy modern hotel complex is right out of sync with the community.  Yet shiny, new and big is where the new money is so it may well go ahead.”
I’d heard often of this conflict between developers and community.  Were it not for the whole “heritage” movement cities around the world would be destroyed by modernity no different than they’d been destroyed by alien invaders.   It’s a different twist of Joni Mitchell’s famous song, “ they paved paradise to put up a parking lot’.
I so enjoy England’s Prince Charles insights into urban planning in this regard.  He's been at the forefront of the heritage movement. It’s all a matter of balance.  It’s obvious too that Turkey’s first president Ataturk understood the importance of history. The concern is with the leaderships today who often lack the genius and vision of yesterday's greats.
As tourists we don't need to travel from the new world to the old world to see fancier hotels and parking lots.  Indeed I challenge anyone to show me a more modern and beautiful city than my own Vancouver.  There the ideas of Frank Lloyd Wright are as important to architecture as the preservation of the skyline laws are to old Istanbul.
The very best portrayal of 'developer arrogance and insanity' is in Douglas Adam's "Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy" where the Vorgon's destroy our planet earth  to put up a faster intergalactic space way!
I loved Trici’s drawings. She showed me a 13th century byzantine church that was now a car wash.  The owner of the car wash loved his location, the natural beauty and history and Trici’s love for this.  As a result famous artists and entertainers, she guided were brought to this shrine. There’s a wonderful irony this former baptismal site is now a thriving car wash.
Along the way we saw  amazing graffiti art. This was truly poetic ‘art’ and not the all too common doggerel graffiti  that really benefits from whitewash. But who decides what is ‘art’ in the street? I don’t think it should be left to ‘ city maintenance’ workers.  Would they recognize a Banksy?
Trici as well as guiding teaches drawing in Istanbul, combining her love of the city and her joy of drawing.

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