Monday, 21 September 2009

Paintings of the Turkish Baths, Nicosia.

Here are a few further examples of my series of 'Women in the Turkish Baths.' The lilac one is called 'Fiona in Blue Jeans in the Turkish Baths.' It is a mixture of oil and acrylic on canvas, 95cm by 54cm.

The next one is called 'Blue Baths.' (66cm by 46cm.)

Friday, 18 September 2009

First time of exhibiting the 'Baths' works in London.

In December I will be showing a couple of my 'Women in the Turkish Baths' paintings at a gallery in Covent Garden - more as soon as I have the exact details. I'm currently finishing a largish oil, my latest in the series, and hope to show two paintings. It will be the first time I've shown any of these works in London, as mostly I have shown landscapes, (most recently at the Llewellyn Alexander gallery, in June.)

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Women in the Turkish Baths

One of the highlights of living in Nicosia between 1984 and 1998 was discovering the ancient Turkish Baths in old Nicosia. No one was able to tell me exactly how old this building was, but it must have been at least 400 years old. Inside was a decorative but shabby changing area, and then you walked, wrapped in your towel, along a corridor, dodging a naked light bulb, and entered the heated chambers. There was the main chamber, with a raised hexagonal plinth which you could lie on for massages, and several arched doorways into smaller chambers. These contained small concrete basins. As you sat there in the steam you could hear water dripping from a rusting tap.
What I also loved was that the ceiling of each chamber was domed, and decorated with tiny pieces of glass. Shafts of light came down through the glass and painted the figures with rainbow colours. From the outside the building was a conglomerate of four small domes and one larger, central dome.
Womens' days were Wednesdays and Fridays, but it was always funny how men would open the door to the rest area and say they hadn't seen the signs!

I used to go into the rest area and the heated chambers with my watercolours or pencils, and paint or draw the women as they undressed, reclined in the heat, or dried their hair and chatted. None of the women ever protested against my presence as I drew them, and here I was able to find the most natural and unselfconscious poses. It occupied me for 5 years, and I made many watercolours and drawings. I have used some of these as the basis for my compositions, though now I work also from memory. I close my eyes and I feel I am there, squinting in the steam, trying to make marks on damp paper onto which water drips at intervals, and all the time sweat trickles down my back and runs into my eyes. I hope this sense of the physicality of being in the Baths entered my paintings. It was a place I loved to be, as it felt cut off from the outside world, and I want my paintings to convey the atmosphere created by groups of women relaxing and chatting about their lives.