Haptics: Gold Book I
An Alchemical Journey: Istanbul, Ibrahimpasa, Tavsanli Kalise, The Church With The Rabbit
9 drawings plus text; 4 3/8” x 6 3/8”,
22 panels, accordion fold, silk bound in slipcase
The journey begins one late June afternoon in the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul. The sun had begun to drop, its light variously falling inside on the walls and floors of what was first an ancient Christian Church, then Ottoman Mosque, and now State Museum. Blank volume in hand, I start to draw while sitting on a step facing the marble stone squares on the site of the original apse. The stone slabs gather into flush, warm tones of gray, beige, light amber, pink and gold. As if looking to make a home, the various colored pens begin to respond with a multiplicity of lines and shapes, beginning to trace the presence of a soul.
The book moves to Cappadocia, the home of thousands of small Christian cave churches. One walks across ridges, and up and down through mineral red, white and brown valleys, each dotted with green underbrush, poplar trees and small apricot groves. Below tall “Fairy Castle” rock formations, one enters the caves. Alive with iconic frescos, shrines and altars, many of them bare ghosts of another time – above and below ground the twists and turns of walking and drawing compel resolution. The early millennium cave known as Tavsanli Kalise, The Church With The Rabbit, is the site of an ultimate embrace, its rich abundance of dark quiet a transfiguring force for ink, pen and book.
Alchemy is said to be the art of transforming base metals into gold. A spiritual practice. An infusing presence to be wrought by much effort and quest. Some will say one’s goal is to shed the enclosure, to become enveloped by darkness, then to listen and be taken by the texture and colors of its rhythms, its quality of breath. One starts as a witness, then is drawn in by its fluid forms into the origins, the infinite whorl of its power. Humility is the character of such witness. Resistance yields danger. Some days one is tested beyond reason. Patience, much patience, yields passage and presence. The appearance of gold in whatever its depth is but a visitor, transient and perpetually tempting. We destroy it by asking it to stay. Yet in days after, well outside the book, sheaves of gold light enter spectrum and dream. One is but a momentary vessel. Panel by panel, the book is the repository ofjourney. One praises the forces that wheel and bequeath such precious bounty.