MERHABA FROM ISTANBUL
This fascinating metropolis is my transitional point back to my studio in Croatia. Although Georgia was very good to me during the pandemic because it was extremely safe and affordable, my tour there was only supposed to be 6 weeks which was then extended to 9 months. Before I left though, I wanted to explore more of this charming country, so I took a few small excursions.
MY LAST DAYS OF GEORGIA
Gomismta is a mountainous summer resort in Guria, where sea and mountain weather merges together which causes the clouds to hover above the mountain top due to it being 2755 meters above sea level.
The resort is surrounded by spruce and silver-fir tree forests, and is rich with mineral water and other natural resources, however there is no infrastructure such as electricity or access to indoor plumbing. The inhabitants take water from the nearby mountain’s springs and there are rustic wooden cottages sprinkled everywhere along the hillside.
Sarpi is a village on the coast of the Black Sea, right on the border between Turkey and Georgia and is a very popular beach for locals. You can often hear the Adhan from the Turkish mosques and it’s a fabulous place to take in the sunset.
Shekvetili Dendrological Park is a feat of engineering and an odd whim from the former Georgian PM and the country’s richest man. He transferred around 20 gigantic trees to his estate in a village by the Black Sea coast which involved hundreds of employees, the dismantling of electrical lines, railway tracks and uprooted entire roads stranding drivers in Kobuleti for hours. Seeing such large trees floating by barge in the Black Sea was at first thought to be some odd conspiracy theory but collecting large trees is apparently a hobby and favorite pastime of an eccentric billionaire. At the park there is also an expanse lake with a gathering of lemurs and exotic birds such as various species of macaws, toucans, pelicans, flamingos and even Canadian geese!
One of the many charms in Georgia is the outlook towards guests, as it's a great honour to host and welcome people to their country. Seen here is a Georgian Orthodox Priest that offered my friend and fellow artist, Lorelei Beckstrom and I, a ride to the nearest town of Kobuleti because there were no taxis available during our tour in off season.
After seeing more of Georgia, I then packed my belongings and headed back to Sarpi to cross the land border with Turkey. Due to covid19 measures, I had to take a taxi, minibus, then a flight to Istanbul via the town of Trabzon which was a bit more challenging than usual. I arrived in Istanbul where I booked a historical apartment in the charming district of Beyoğlu and Taksim Square, which is near the center of this surprisingly huge town and the area can be compared to Times Square. As well there are numerous neighbourhood bazaars where the smell of spices and tea made from flowers, taste of Turkish delights and visual portrayal of colour with scarves, evil eye charms and vibrant pottery marks the city with the scent of mysticism and great adventure.
With a population of over 15 million people, it is the most populated town in Turkey and within Europe itself. Turkish people are very welcoming to visitors as well and I was kindly surprised by their hospitality. The atmosphere is amazing, with so much to see and do that 2 weeks will never be enough. With a plethora of glorious mosques like Hagia Sophie, Blue Mosque and Süleymaniye Mosque you're surrounded by Adhan (call to prayer that happens 5 times per day). I felt honoured though as I was invited to witness a Muslim prayer service not typically allowed to tourists.
Despite managing some local travel, most of this year I've focused on the business aspect of my career where my daily routine was productive administrative tasks. Many artists like to procrastinate with this aspect because it’s somewhat monotonous and can be a creativity killer; but it’s an essential part of being successful. My dedication to this has paid off over the years as I’ve recently learned that my Etsy store was ranked in the top 1% of the art and home décor market in North America.
Another recognition of my work this year was a sale of 8 paintings to a single collector from my gallery in Hong Kong. Art has the power to transform lives, not only by lifting your mood but refreshing your living space. As artists we want to inspire, educate, and give meaning to our lives so it's immensely gratifying that people are still supporting fine art in these difficult times.
A recent contribution to my latest work has been a series of small watercolours on paper inspired by my travels influenced by nature, sea and wildlife that can be viewed on my website.
I'm also going to be hosting a studio clearance to make way for new work in 2021 so don't miss out!!! I only run a couple of sales a year so if you have any questions or would like to commission a piece for your home, please let me know.
Thanks for joining me on this amazing journey so far. I've dedicated my late 40s to travelling and with that comes sacrifice. For most people, the holidays are about spending time with friends and family, eating a festive meal and exchanging gifts, but this year a lot of us will be separated from our loved ones. I know the pain and loneliness you may be experiencing, I've been away for over a year now, so I try to reflect on my blessings and feel gratitude for the little things I do have. For me that was using technology to video chat, taking small local trips to explore nature, watching a new Netflix series (Queen's Gambit!) and just letting go of any REAL accomplishments this year.
Stay safe and much love,