Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Hagia Sophia... Again!

Ahhh, Hagia Sophia, how loyal you are. No matter how far I go or for how long, you patiently wait for my return.

Hagia Sophia-aholics, Anonymous meeting in session now!

This fall I've got a spot booked in at the Penticton Art Gallery for a retrospective of my work- hence why lately some old works have been creeping into my Facebook page and blog. It's been fun tripping down the lane of past works- it almost makes me wish I still had my sketchbooks from high school. But alas, when you move as much as I do you can't keep this stuff around.

Looking through my photos for Hagia Sophia pictures I never realised how much documentation (Inside, out and historic) I have for this building:

Once the seat of the Byzantine Empire, then the Ottoman Empire, now the tourist Empire.

This little painting is quite simple, and doesn't really look like the Hagia Sophia I know, but still, I think it's cool. If I ever move back to Istanbul I might have to paint this map on a wall in my living room.

The Hagia Sophia as depicted in a mosaic found- inside the Hagia Sophia!

Old Ottoman Coin found in the Archaeology Museum next to Hagia Sophia.

This is the first Hagia Sophia painting I've ever done, and weirdly enough, it's the one that has grabbed most people's attention. So I decided to paint a proper one. You can see my other Hagia Sophias in this blog post here.

So as a painter, you paint the work and put it out there, and some work sells and some doesn't. I'm not complaining, this is the highest praise anyone can give you for your work. And sometimes I've been surprised at how sad I've been to let go of work, but this is the business. So sometimes, I've got to paint these things again, like I do now, because I can't have a show with a section on my Turkish Paintings and not have the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque represented.

Hagia Sophia 2011! Finished in my kitchen last night. 31.5 x 42 cm.

On a personal note, this is rather cliche to a person living in Istanbul, but this is the truth- I love Hagia Sophia, or Aya Sofya as it's called in Turkey. I felt blessed to be able to see it every morning on my walks around Sultanahmet; its shabby pinkish exterior showing off how mammoth this building really is. I think the reason I love it so much is that it's like a time capsule, a gift from people 1500 years ago to us now. It's one of the places I can stand in this world and look at and be proud to be human because humans made this. 1500 years ago! In never ceases to boggle me.

And it never ceases to keep on giving to us. Restorers are still restoring walls and finding mosaics and passageways an and things (including people) buried under it's floors. On the Mezzanine inside one day I stepped on a cobble stone that was loose; I could have lifted it up if I wanted to; no one was around and it was one of the dark corners of the buiding; but I didn't. because I was too afraid of damaging something and getting banned for life from Hagia Sophia, and that wasn't something I was willing to risk!

Seagulls! At one point I was a little afraid these were going to look like vultures, but once they were painted in they looked like seagulls.

First thing's first: I decided that I wanted to paint the Hagia Sophia bigger. with more detail. I also wanted the birds to have more personality. This painting so far is the biggest one I have done. Believe it or not, the hardest part of doing these paintings is getting a clear even sky; and this one is satisfactory. I have some new ideas of what to do with the next painting I tackle; the Blue Mosque. But I've still got two more Turkish painting ideas brewing (two brand new ones!) So I may tackle those first.

Front of the building detail.

Stay tuned!



  1. The shade of pink is perfect. I also miss this building, I passed it everyday for 4 years and never got over it! I can't remember where I came across this quote but it's a gem - " Aya Sophia is pink because it's the heart of the city."


  2. I love it! I also recall the picture you had of a worker sitting on the very top. I have to see it someday--don't know how or when, but someday.

  3. Thanks, Nemo! Hopefully one day you'll be visiting me there! ; )

  4. I bought this print yesterday in Naramata at the cafe. I absolutely love it!
    Thanks so much!

  5. I'm so glad you like it! I painted it for myself, actually. But at the last minute I decided to include the Turkish paintings in the show so I made some prints. Now I'm glad I did! xx