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Sinan blog #1: The journey to Turkey

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The AJ and Turkishceramics are leading a study trip to Istanbul looking at the work of Mimar Sinan. In the first of a series of blogs, Flora Neville reports from Turkey

Arrived in Istanbul safely. Much to my surprise; I have a kind of hysterical plane condition. I’m not distinctly afraid of flying, but my imagination tends to take off with the plane. The opening gambit of Selim, the person sitting next to me, didn’t help: ‘I have a heart condition,’ he said. ‘And high blood pressure, especially in turbulence.’

I’m in Turkey with architects Peter Clegg and Clare Hughes (Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios), Deborah Saunt and Ellen Hadden (DSDHA), Katerina Dionysopoulou and Billy Mavropoulos (Bureau de Change), Ian Ritchie, John McElgunn (hot-off-the-press partner at Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners), Laura Kinnaird and Neil Gillespie (Reiach and Hall), and Eddie Blake (Sam Jacob Studio) for a research trip with the AJ and Turkishceramics on Mimar Sinan.

No shame if you haven’t heard of him. Most of us hadn’t either. So here goes: Sinan was the 16th-century chief architect to the wonderfully named Suleyman the Magnificent and other Ottoman sultans. He designed many of Turkey’s most famous mosques, though not the Hagia Sofia, nor the Blue Mosque. He was no mainstreamer. This blog and the book the AJ is piecing together will tell you all about Sinan. So stay tuned.

Back to my travelling companion Selim who, I found out, has spent the last 16 years living in Putney. He wasn’t very happy with my decision to drink a nerve-steadying Raki. And although he wanted me to watch Hotel Transylvania, I rebelled and plugged into Inside Out, a fantastic film about the human psyche by Pixar. Fear, Anger, Disgust, Sadness and Joy work together, directing the protagonist’s mind and her everyday emotions. It’s just Fear up to his old tricks I rationalised, as we bumped into Istanbul’s airport.

I asked the others which films they had watched, but it seems we’re a hard-working bunch and all I could glean was that Deborah had watched The Butler and John had seen Mandela: Long Road to Freedom, while AJ editor Rory Olcayto went for Chappie, a sci-fi movie that he highly recommends. Everyone else, it seems, was swotting up on the subject of our trip. 

Arriving at a swanky hotel, courtesy of Turkishceramics, we dispersed to powder our noses before reconvening on the 15th floor to drink fine wine and schmooze. Wine turned to sickly, possibly passion fruit vodka, and the night whiled itself away as it does when passion fruit vodka is involved. The real work will start tomorrow.


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