Day 33

With a slight delay returning to the UK due to the collapse of Cobalt Airlines, it gave me the opportunity to make another trip out to previously-photographed sites. As you’ll see from the following post, these shoots concentrated on the two large mosques that have fascinated me. But I had the opportunity of walking down to the construction area of the mosque on the Near East University site. It was a fascinating time exploring the skeletal internal space.

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It was intriguing seeing the working process of the construction – the rough concrete structure now almost complete in terms of the internal space of the building. It was a weekend when I shot these images (Sunday 21 October 2018) so the construction staff on duty weren’t working, but they were very welcoming and I had the run of the site for a few hours, during which a large storm approached. The images reflect the move from bright, high contrast light, to the softer and more muted tones that were produced whilst the heavens were opening outside.

What I didn’t realise at the time, when the rain was lashing down outside (and indeed inside) and the thunder was reverberating around the concrete structure, was that a few miles to the west of me was a Tornado! No wonder it went a little dark…

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And then once the rain and storm had abated I headed out of the site and drove along the Famagusta road, eastwards towards the completed mosque that I’d also photographed last year. I was effectively following the storm and the light, as it was dramatic to say the least. I found the block of flats that I’d previously photographed from, and headed back onto the roof.

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I then decided to find an alternative view, thinking that it was pointless to add to what was already a finalised series of the changing light, and so I went out into the neighbourhood to look at other possibilities.

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I was intrigued by the relationship between the monument and the vernacular surroundings. This is another form of relationship between the mosque and the surrounding populous.

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So it was once again a fascinating experience watching of the light and atmosphere, spending further time with this intriguing edifice, that seems to have really captured my attention. Having re-photograhed the mosque under construction, I can’t help but feel the need to return to see the progress over time, and to see the final manifestation of the largest mosque to be constructed outside Turkey, when it is complete.

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Day 32 (one year on)

It has been fascinating to come back to Cyprus for the opening of the exhibition Layers of Visibility, curated by Liz Wells (Plymouth University) and Yiannis Toumazis (Nicosia Municipal Arts Centre). I can’t believe it’s actually here – the culmination of the various artist interpretations of Cyprus that have emerged from the 2013-2017 residencies. The four series of works I eventually edited and selected are referred to as Transitions I-IV. They reflect the various aspects of the transitioning landscape that I encountered in my travels around the city of Nicosia, and the wider island. If you’ve looked at the blog previously, you’ll recognise the works from the installation shots below…

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And whilst back, of course I had to revisit sites previously photographed. First on the list was the mosque on the Kyrenia road north out of Nicosia, that had fascinated me on the last day of the residency last year. As you can see from the images below, it has moved on in a year, albeit slowly it seems.

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Before heading back to the same viewpoint as last year, a number of other possibilities emerged, such as this…DSC_8058 copy 2

And then it was back to the familiar view in order to photograph the progress…

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Day 31

So here it is – the last post! As planned, I headed up to the site of the large Mosque that’s under construction adjacent to the Near East University campus right on the northern edge of Nicosia’s boundary. This is the one I’d photographed a little while ago, having made the decision to look into the sunset for that version (below).

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As I’d said in the post of that day, whilst this image emphasises the mass of the building, I’m still not sure it really works. So today’s attempt was to try and work a different version, that is more in keeping with other images in the series. The following contact sheet shows the development of today’s viewpoint. I wouldn’t normally make images of how something develops like this, but it seemed it might be useful in documenting the journey to the final image.

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I wanted to find a balance between the building as the focus of the image and the context of the University buildings on the left and the hill flag on the right. The landscape I was walking through to try and find the viewpoint was quite low lying in parts, making it difficult to get where I wanted to be without being too low.

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And then it was a question of waiting to see what happened as the light faded – a fitting final wait to make what was, hopefully, a final image. And it was indeed a fascinating wait. It’s always interesting making images like this, where the thinking and the context are already in place and my job is to basically try and resolve the visual translation of this.

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One of the important aspects of this image is the concrete nature of the construction, that will eventually be painted white, one of the controversial elements of these buildings. So the period when the intensity of the sunset disappears and the light is somewhat more muted is probably what I’ll go for. The version below also works well for the University buildings and the flag.

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But there are always alternatives…

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The light became really interesting at this point – a sort of blue line appeared over the mountains. In standing in the same point, watching and waiting for a while, I also experimented with a form of panorama.

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There’s something so particular about the proximity of this new building, on the edge of a major new campus (to the left) but also the site of a major new industrial building on the right (out of shot in the single images). If I understood a campus security guard correctly, this is going to be something to do with state-of-the-art car production. So it seemed an interesting developing area of the city – one that will encompass major educational, religious and industrial buildings and activities.

I can’t help but be reminded of the conversation with the historian recently, who was talking about the sound of the call to prayer that is already omnipresent throughout the city, and increasingly across urban neighbourhoods in the north. There seems something very significant about this site (above) thinking about when the call to prayer will sound, very conspicuously, across the whole campus five times every day in the future.

And so there is plenty to think about as I sign off from this blog, and from the residency. I can’t believe how fast the five weeks has gone. But it’s been productive and stimulating. 250 miles walked, 250 miles driven, and a few bus rides thrown in for good measure. I’ve met some fascinating people, who I’d like to thank for the generosity of their time and thoughts and for their contribution to the development of ideas for work. But biggest thanks go to the team at NiMAC for their support of this project and for managing everything so smoothly over the course of my stay.

Now it’s on to editing, printing and thinking about the potential exhibition next year, with the other British artists from Plymouth University who have undertaken this residency previously.

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Day 30

A day of torrential rain and thunderstorms today. But when this happens there is always (or has been so far for me) a period when the rain stops and most striking light and clouds appear. And today I’d hoped to go back to the neighbourhood football training session that I shot with my iPhone a couple of weeks ago. Today I was in Nicosia so coincided with the training and the weather. And it was certainly dramatic – and changeable. A selection of a few of the frames are below.

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I’m not yet sure whether this will fit into the series really. I’ve been using some of today, whilst it was persisting with rain, to look at a more final edit of the Nationhood series as I’m currently terming it. Clearly the sponsorship branding evident in this image is an aspect of this context, and the layers of home and neighbourhood are likewise evident.  But I haven’t opted for a social (figurative) angle in my representations on the whole. The other exception to this was the Varosha image. Perhaps there is a relationship to play with here in a sequence.

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There’s something about children, families and futures shared between these images – something I discussed on Day 17 with the left hand image. I also quite like the relationship between the colours in the youthful references between the images – of the play equipment on the left and the football shirts and orange bibs on the right.

And so it’s the final day for any photography tomorrow. I have in mind to head back to the large mosque that is currently a concrete skeleton as I don’t feel I’ve resolved what I wanted to there. It somehow seems fitting to return to this development that is representative of a future, that is such a crucial discourse between the north and the south. A final search for a final image.

Day 29

A second day in the Limassol area today and another trip into the surrounding hills to look for interesting developments. I initially became side-tracked by a village called Monagri about 15km north of Limassol – branded as ‘the village of the monasteries’. There is definitely a project here but not one to start with two days to go! There are some fascinating buildings/communities in the area and someone with social documentary interests would be well suited to studying them.

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I then travelled a little further, through some wonderful landscape scenery, and came across an interesting village called Korfi. It looked as if it was a newly established community – at least there was a new Village Hall, a community plaza, sports facilities and a new church under construction – and new properties of course.

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I’ll do some digging into this village I think, as it has clearly been the focus of large scale investment, not just in residential property, but in the whole sense of community construction. Unfortunately, looking at it I don’t think I have enough to make a series. Perhaps I should have spent longer there.

And I do keep coming across things that could develop into a series if I was here longer (!) A case in point today was a new detached property (left below) that reminded me of the building I shot yesterday in the Limassol Marina (right below). The combination of the new paint finish, the intense light and the camera’s translation, all go to make these properties look so ‘perfect’.

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Moving on I came across another example of an interesting development cut into the side of the hills. Every road I seem to travel on has housing development on it – I can’t quite believe the amount of residential building work going on in this part of the island. The one I focussed my attention on today was a trio of houses, in a sort of timeline, from one finished, to one on the way, and one early on in the process. But there was something odd about them – particularly the one that was finished and occupied.

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I can’t quite work out why it doesn’t have any windows facing out. It has no view to the left or away from the camera viewpoint, because of the concrete retaining walls. So therefore the only view it has is right into the next property? Strange. I ended up looking at this as another triptych, in the same way I made one yesterday. The image above didn’t have enough interest in and of itself, but when combined with the view either side it seemed to offer something. There was an interesting little children’s play area to the left and a view down the valley to the right. And the access road formed a linking thread.

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And of course I had to wait and see what happened as the light faded. Why break the habit of a trip. I changed my position slightly due to the arrival of the black Mini in the central image (which ended up parked right in line with a pole) and the problematic bank of earth at the edge of the right hand image.

 

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Looking back at yesterday’s triptych and the one made this afternoon I’m not sure, as yet, whether they will figure in any final series for the residency. They are clearly concerned with notions of home, and with neighbourhood of course as these properties all sit within newly established sets of properties. So we’ll see.

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And I now have two days remaining before I pack to leave. What to do in the last days…

 

 

 

Day 28

Limassol was the location of the day, as planned. Not quite what I’d expected in some respects as I thought there would be more high rise development. But it’s a fascinating port city with its Old Town and new Marina. And of course a great deal of contemporary development in the Marina – some if which looked like a toy town if I’m honest, as can be seen in the first image on the contact below.

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But it was a classic ‘exclusive’ Marina development, with guards, gates and a card entry policy, so it was a little frustrating not being able to develop more images in this area. So after some wandering past the rather large array of very expensive boats I decided to go further afield to look for inspiration. On the way down to Limassol I’d seen some interesting hillside developments and therefore went out of the city and, once again, headed for the hills.

It seems whatever road you take into the hills of Cyprus, you’ll come across something interesting. Today was no exception, although I’m not sure I’ve got anything desperately interesting yet.

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It is an extraordinary landscape in terms of geology and terrain. And the late afternoon afternoon light as lovely as always. There was also an interesting looking series of flats on a hill in the distance, which I think I may explore tomorrow. It’s possible it’s an army barracks but I’ll have to see.

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After driving around for a while what then took my attention was a new development called Sunny View. It was a series of rather odd looking box-like properties that were built in an area that had been partly carved out of the hillside, as you can see below.

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As I was watching the light fade (as I suspect the family in the house on top of the hill were also) I experimented with a triptych, as the relationship of this new development within the context of the other houses in the vicinity was interesting. I attempted it a couple of times as you’ll see.

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And I spent a little time this evening tweaking the balances between the images to see if it would ultimately work.

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And there was quite an interesting image just as I was walking back to the car in the twilight. Not sure I’ll use it for anything but it seemed a fitting image to end the day with.

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Day 27

A rather impromptu shoot today. It was such a glorious day weather-wise I felt I had to try another shoot at the big mosque on the Famagusta road out of Nicosia – the one I’d failed to get to grips with recently. With no real planning, the shoot could not have gone more smoothly. Pick up a taxi just north of the Buffer Zone. Cheap ride to the mosque. Spot a block of flats that were just in the right place for what looked like an interesting viewpoint. Open access stairs. Get to the top and the door to the roof space was open. I stand there for a couple of hours watching the light shift in the most wonderful way! And, most importantly, I was overlooking what is a really fascinating building that clearly demonstrates the issues of this building programme in the north. Why couldn’t I do this the other day?!

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Once again I find myself torn as to what to choose to best represent these white landmarks that are causing so much discontent in both Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities.

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My initial inclination is to go for the more neutral colour of the white surface of the building, bearing in mind this is one of the key aspects of these new mosques, and one of the controversial aspects. Talking to an academic from the University of Nicosia yesterday, who’s been researching these new mosques, he was explaining the theory that the bright white nature of these buildings is very much a deliberate emphasising of the buildings in the landscape. The Turkish designers/architects argue that they are painted white to save costs, it being cheaper to paint the finish as opposed to using the local stone, which would be more costly.

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I can see this being a nightmare to print, but probably worth it in the end as I think it works in the developing series. And then I think something with the illumination is also possible, as this adds a form of spectacle about the building – more of a theme park attraction than a religions building?

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Although it only gets like this once all the minaret lights are on. So perhaps I need to go the whole hog…

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Decisions, decisions…

Off to Limassol tomorrow to see what the urban development landscape looks like there.