Thursday, January 28, 2010
Sunday, January 24, 2010
Here's the lower garden...
...and the upper garden.
And for a couple of touristic pictures, the Bosphorus, with the Bosphorus Bridge,
and the Ortaköy Mosque.
Friday, January 22, 2010
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
I've watched ebru being done many times; almost any traditional arts exhibition here will feature an ebru artist at work. The paints are dropped or spattered with special brushes and a stylus onto the surface of water which is thickened with a plant extract called tragacanth. The paints are mixed with varying amounts of gall, which controls how much they spread over the surface. It's all a complex balance of chemistry and technique; even the humidity and temperature can affect the outcome.
I'd always wanted to try it, but for whatever reason, never had. Today I was walking through the Taksim metro station and noticed an exhibition of ebru there, by artists Fatih Yeşil and Hüseyin Gülbaran. Strangely the place was almost deserted so I could look at the prints at my leisure.
Mr. Yeşil was there, and had a pan set up for people to try it themselves. I watched him talk a woman through a basic tulip, and decided to try it myself. We'll come to that in a bit!
As a gardener and plant lover, ebru is more than a decorative art, it's a documentation of the way people see and interpret the flowers that grow in Turkey. This is not a static thing; in addition to the stylized much-repeated traditional motifs, new motifs are appearing as well, and each artist brings his or her own perceptions into their work. Some of the pieces at the exhibition today could be called more or less botanically accurate, immediately recognizable. For example, the poppy here shows a typical color pattern for P. rhoeas, the field poppy found throughout most of Turkey. The same is true for this Bellflower (Campanula). Though perhaps not any particular species, it would be instantly recognizable by anyone familiar with the family.
One flower that features prominently in ebru is the tulip. There are probably several reasons for this: Turkey is the homeland of many wild tulip species, the tulip mania that eventually spread to Holland began in Turkey, and the shape of tulip petals seems to cry out to be depicted in ebru.
Today I was struck by something I had never noticed before: how the change in varieties of tulips on the market has been reflected in ebru. Though there are many tulip species in Anatolia with a variety of shapes, the most prized in Ottoman times were those with long, thin petals, like the golden tulip in this painting. There were many named varieties, nearly all of which have been lost to cultivation today. There is now an effort underway to recreate some of these varieties, and I even was able to buy one last spring at a nursery down the street from me.
The tulips depicted in most of the older and/or more traditional examples of ebru, as well as many other turkish art forms such as tilework, depict these graceful long-petaled tulips, like those in the example here. However, during recent decades the Dutch have become the undisputed kings of tulip production and breeding, and have focused more on flowers which can be appreciated from a distance and especially when planted en masse. This means large, robust flowers on tall stems. This type of tulip has also become more common in ebru, as it's almost the only type of tulips that are commercially available any more. Still, ebru is a stylized art, and it seems that in the language of ebru, pointed petals are an essential factor in tulip-ness.
Dutch-type tulips are not the only new flowers to show up in ebru: Ottoman art lovers would almost certainly have scratched their heads if they'd seen an ebru Bird of Paradise!
Mr. Yeşil, who is also a teacher of Ebru, has his own page devoted to the art of ebru, provided below, and courses are available.
So what of my own first attempt? I wanted to try the more abstract "battal" type. At first glance, it would seem to be easier, right? But it's not! Think of it this way - is it easier to paint a picture directly or try to do it by throwing the paint at the canvas? You tap the brush a little too hard on your finger and you get too much paint. Tap it too lightly and you get none. Hold your finger too stiff and the paint shoots beyond the place you're trying to apply it. Here is mine still in the tray:
The final step is to carefully lay the paper over the surface and draw it off - why drawing it over the edge of the pan doesn't mar the paint I don't know... And I present to you, in living color, my ebru representation of... corn smut! It's a beginning...
Please visit Mr. Yeşil's page at http://www.dokusu.com and be sure to watch the videos of ebru in the process of creation! There is also an ebru gallery where you can see many fascinating examples of this unique Ottoman art form.
Türklere ebrunun ne olduğunu nasıl yapıldığını anlatmak biraz gereksiz olduğunu zannediyorum, benden çok daha iyi anlatan yerler var zaten! Bugün Taksim metrosundayken bir ebru sergisine rastgeldim ve ebru satıldığı çok yer gibi ziyaretçilere ebru yapmayı deneme imkanı da sunuluyordu. Ebru, uzun zamandır denemek istediğim birşey olduğu için sansı değerlendirdim, sonra biraz botanik bir açıdan ebru hakkında yazmaya esinlendim.
Batıda "paper marbling" olarak bilinen ebru, orada daha çok diğer objeleri süslemek kullanınan bir sanattır. Küçük çocuk olarak ilkokulumuzun kütüphanesinde dev bir sözlük vardı, kapalıyken sayfa uclarındaki desenlere hayran kalmıştım. Nasıl yapıldığını hiç düşünemiyordum, suyun yüzeyinde olacağını nereden tahmin edeyim ki?
Botanik açısından ebruyu sadece bir süs sanati değil, Türk insanının doğal dünyayı nasıl algılayıp betimlediğini bir belgeleme olarak görüyorum. Botanik olarak ele alınan çiçekleri birebir yansıtmamasına rağmen (ki bu ya imkansız olurdu ya ebrunun imkanlarını ciddi bir şekilde sınırlandırırdı), çiçeklerin özünü ortaya çıkardığı kesindir. Ebruda görünen gelincik, lale veya çan çiçeği, doğaya herhangi bir botanik türüne tam benzemiyor fakat hemen hangi çiçek olduğunu anlıyoruz.
Çiçekleri birebir betimleyemediği halde, yine de bitki dünyasında belli gerçekleri de yansıtıyor ebru. Mesela ebruda sık sık ele alınan bir çiçek, laledir. Anadolu'da birçok yaban lale türleri olması yanısıra, özellikle Hollanda'da olmak üzere batılıların bir lale soğanı için aklı şaşırtacak para harcamaya teşvik eden "lale çılgınlığı"nın başlangıcı, Türkiye'nin Lale Devri'nde idi. Osmanlıda en gözde laleler ise, günümüzde artık çoktan kaybolmuş, yaprakları uzun ve sivri olan cinslerdi. Daha eski ve/veya geneleksel Osmanlı sanati örneklerinde betimlenen lalelerin büyük çoğunluğu, bu uzun ince yapraklı cinslerden esinlenmiş olduğu görülür.
Çok şükür, bu eski türleri yeniden hayata geçirilmeye çalışılıyor artık fakat şimdilik lale üretimi ve geliştirmesinin merkezi kuşkusuz Hollanda'dır. Her ilkbahar İstanbul'un caddelerine binbir renklerini katan lalelerin hemen hemen hepsi, Hollanda'da, uzaktan göreni etkileyip gözü kamaştırmak için geliştiren, uzun boylu geniş yapraklı cinslerdir. Bu da ebruda görülebilir artık. Hatta Fatih Yeşil ile Hüseyin Gülbaran'ın eserleri yer aldığı sergide "cennet kuşu" gibi Türkiye'ye ancak bu yüzyılda gelen, Osmanlıların hiç tanımadığı çiçekler bile gördüm. Ve gelecekte başka neler ebruya girecek diye sabırsızlıkla merak ediyorum! Ebru ustası Fatih Bey ayrıca dersler veriyor; hem dersler hem de ebru için daha ayrıntılı bilgi için http://www.dokusu.com web sitesine başvurabilirsiniz.
Benim ilk girişime gelince...çok sevdiğim, daha soyut olan "battal" ebru tarzının, çiçeklerden daha kolay olacağını sanmıştım. Meğer öyle değil! Neden mi? Normal resim düşünün, hangisi daha güzel bir sonuç verecek, bir fırça ile direkt boya uygulamak mı yoksa uzaktan fırlatmak mı? Ustanın elinde son derece kolay görünüyor tabii, fırçayı sol elin parmağına hafif vurarak suyun yüzeyine boya damlacıklarını dağıtıyor. Fakat! Az fazla hafif vurursanız hiç boya çıkmaz, biraz fazla sert ise çok fazla çıkar, sol elin parmağını fazla kasarsanız da boya istediğin yeri aşar. Benim ilk ebru örneğine gelince... çiçekten çok, mısırda çıkan bir mantar hastalığına benzedi! Bir başlangıç işte...
Monday, January 4, 2010
My mother grew other daylilies in her Iowa City garden – there were some of a deep orange-almost-red shade, and a stand of tall clear yellow ones that, as I remember, had a very sweet pistil that I liked to pluck out and eat. In my Seattle garden I found one dwarf daylily languishing between the walk and the foundation and brought back to life, wondering what it would do. It turned out to be Hemericallis lilioasphodelus, commonly called “Lemon lily,” and with its small but substantial clear yellow blooms and delicious fragrance, it was one of my favorite plants.
Overall however, even though I’d seen some different daylilies in garden catalogs – whites, spiders, even pinks, they always seemed…“common,” for the lack of a better word, or maybe “unconvincing.” The reds seemed muddy, so were the much-hailed pinks…as if, despite their outward difference, they were really just aching to be dusty orange.
On my last trip to Seattle in November though, my old neighbor and fellow garden freak Skot (I'm not a sycophant but I really should be embarrassed to even compare myself to him!) showed me the daylily plants he had been bidding on. “Bidding on?” Yes– it turns out there is a truly devoted group of people who are crazy about daylilies and who are producing new hybrids that are so spectacular they’ll give tall bearded iris a run for their money. He was doing this bidding through the Daylily Exchange. http://www.daylily.com/ Just the image on their homepage is a hint at what’s to be found within. If you aren’t convinced, check out Bill’s Hemerocallis Page http://www.ofts.com/bill/daylily.html., and particularly the gallery at http://www.ofts.com/photo/gallery.html. (Thanks to Bill for generously allowing the use of his images!)
This for example, is no run-of-the-mill daylily!
To be honest, just like the new iris hybrids, the price of many of the newly-released daylily hybrids places them well beyond the reach of the average gardener, but in a year they become last year’s hybrids, and so on, and there are lots of wonderful things to be had for reasonable prices.
There is also the option of growing them from seed. Growing regular lilies (Lilium) from seed is a rather involved process often involving a double stratification, but daylilies are almost as easy as zinnias. People have several different approaches to sowing them but Skot takes his seed and puts it in the freezer for a couple weeks, after which it’s ready to sow whenever he wants. Sowing seed in the fall and growing through the winter under lights can often produce a bloom the first year, though the true character of the bloom will become clearer after the plant is better established. I have several of his seedlings growing in my garden now and have gotten blooms on two - one is a large clear yellow spider and the other is...well, orange, but a much richer and substantial orange than any old fulva and I'll let it keep growing.
An entire jargon has grown up around daylily breeding – UFOs, spiders, watermarks, shark’s teeth… And just as with bearded iris, there are now lots of reblooming daylily hybrids. But here the daylilies have a fascinating twist: the second flush of bloom often exhibits a color shift so striking that it’s hardly recognizable as the same variety. Another surprise in some of the new hybrids is the size; some of the spiders in particular have blooms of up to 15 or more inches across! Many of them are semi-evergreen as well, meaning they continue to provide substance when they are not in bloom in the form of their arching, strap-like leaves.
So if the thought of daylilies still conjures up images of invasive orange things, why not reconsider and try something really new this year? I'm already looking forward to the first blooms on the rest of the plants I planted last year, and knowing I have seed of some very high-falutin' plants here gives me even more to look forward to!