The Residency: Cast and Stage

Finally, we are now at my residency, which I will be leaving in just a few days. But it’s been a wonderful, inspiring, exciting experience that I am so, so grateful to have had. The best part of the residency are, of course, the people! The directors, Julie and Anika, are two amazing and resourceful women who made me feel very much at home, introduced me to their friends, shared with me their food, tea and coffee (always the quickest way to my heart), and helped me with the many questions I had about living and making art in Istanbul. I was also very fortunate to have not just two wonderfully friendly and talented artists living in the residency at the same time, Sara and Gerardo, but also their super-cool friends and artistic colleagues, Audrey, Betty and later Anna, who came every day to work. They travel as artists as a group (so ideal!) and more info. and their individual websites can be found at:

I have been truly spoiled–there were always people to talk to and go out with, and we cooked delicious dinners together every night, taking turns as sous chef and assistant.

Kat, Mehmet (amazing cook!), Betty, Gerardo, Sara, Arni, Anika at brunch on the roof terrace

Dinner inside with Sara, Gerardo, Betty and Audrey

Julie making pumpkin pancakes on Halloween...










The residency building is a beautiful space and a feat of incredible willpower on the part of Julie and Anika, who had it gutted and renovated within 6 months….impossible in the States, but in Turkey people work, or “work”, all… the…. time!  A building next to us is being renovated and they are at it for what seems to be 20 hrs a day, 6 -7 days a week. People typically work 10 hrs a day, 6 days a week here. (This has cured any desire I have to work in Turkey). But it resulted in an amazing building, which, thanks to the artistic interests of its owners, also has art embedded in it. Notice the decorative metal grate over the first-floor windows, designed by an artist friend of theirs.

For more information on the building, residency, and for better pictures, (and their blog!) please visit

The production space on the ground floor held the Palatti members who were preparing for an exhibition at an art fair:

View of production space from the second level

Gerardo discussing his and Sara's drawings with visitors










Overlook onto the Tuyap art fair

—-Palatti art fair tangent— The fair opened this weekend in a convention center in Tuyap, an area about 45 min. outside of downtown Istanbul (but still considered part of the city), and unfortunately was a bit of a disappointment to me. It was huge and labrynthine, as these things are, and the art was largely rather cheesy paintings and sculpture, at least half of which were also just not very well made. However, when I turn my critical self off, I appreciate all the work each artist put into making, framing, transporting and showing their pieces–that is something that cannot be criticized. It’s easy to forget the individual efforts when faced with the sheer volume of work on view. This is definitely a drawback to these fairs, as is the airless, timeless, soulless quality of convention centers, in general. But I am also speaking as someone who killed far too many hours working at the convention center in Philadelphia. (shudder)

But beyond my supportive hugs to all the artists at the fair, Palatti’s booth was a welcome ray of creative sunshine. I had been admiring the work while it was created and was happy to see it installed, and the on-site drawing completed.

Anna Bas Backer's "Death of a Fish" (I probably have the title wrong, but it's a series of drawings about a mysterious crime)

Notice the Turkish carpet tattoos--so cool!






One example of Sara and Gerardo's Ebru project: They recorded sounds from 7 sites in Istanbul and used the sounds to create vibrations in 7 Ebru (marbling) pieces, basically drawing with sound.









One of Betty Ras' explorations of Turkish carpets; inserting them into landscapes, using them to cover people and animals...see for more. They're great!

(sorry, Audrey, I don’t have a good image of your drawings) She does lovely drawings/paintings reflecting on the everyday people and small private events of Istanbul.

I should add that there were some other pieces at the fair that I really liked, and I met some very interesting and wonderful people, but I pooped out on images. —End of Palatti art fair tangent—

But back to the residency building! After the first floor you ascend steep stairs to a small second floor landing where you trade your shoes for complimentary house slippers. Then it’s more steep stairs, with, surprise!–very cool artwork, to the 3rd floor office and eating space.  Then it’s up more steep stairs to the bedrooms, and then MORE stairs to the kitchen/studios, and then a FINAL set of stairs to the beautiful rooftop terrace with a stunning view down the hill to the Halic and the many mosques within Sultanahmet….that’s 5 sets of thigh-and-butt-busting stairs!

Shadow images on stairs to 3rd floor


Kitchen and my studio







stairs from kitchen to roofdeck (5th to 6th floors!)



roof terrace








Rooftop view down to the Halic and overto Sultanahmet--I got to see this every day for a month! My future self in the U.S. is sooo jealous!

The opposite view up the hill includes the huge Ottoman bank building currently under construction. The front facade is very Western, this back facade much more “Eastern”. The flag and picture of Ataturk were up just for “Republic Day” on Oct. 29, a day when everything sports a flag of Turkey, the bigger the better.

Back of Ottoman bank building

And, aside from the views, there is more art on the roof:

Wind-driven animation of Istanbul (look inside the twisted flaps)

Installation of materials collected from the neighborhood







So this has been my very comfortable and fun home for a little over a month–lucky me! In a few days I’m off to meet friends in Athens, and then I’m extending my stay abroad by volunteering at a horse farm in the Greek mountains into December (free room and board, and now they have foals!) So I am going to try to crank out a few more posts about Istanbul before I’m inundated with the wonders of Greece…

About Stephanie Beck

Exploring the international world of art.
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