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Istanbul in high summer is sweltering. The locals may find relief in the cooling breeze that blows off the Boshporus, but for some of us it’s not enough. So my partner, the Japanise artist Ai Kijima, and I decided to pack our bags last summer and head east. We wanted to be in the mountains and near water, so we chose the smallish city of Van. We rented an apartment with a view of the lake and the citadel, and settled in there, keen to explore beyond the obvious beauty.
My work as a fine art photographer has taken me far beyond the borders of Turkey. I have done projects in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Lebanon and just across the Black Sea in the contested region of Abkhazia, always preparing my research well in advance. For this trip, however, we made our arrangements at the last minute, and were happy to wait to see where chance or curiosity might lead us. Then, on our second day in Van, I found inspiration in the writing of TA Sinclair, a scholar who spared no effort in searching out historic sites in eastern Turkey and in describing them in meticulous detail.
The text fascinated me, but I was surprised that very few photographic images accompanied the author’s descriptions. So now I had a direction. I would journey as far as possible in the footsteps of Sinclair, to make my own photographic essay based on his travels. The images from this project reflect what I like to think of as a tacit collaboration between me as a photographer and TA Sinclair as a writer and scholar on his voyage of discovery 30 years before me.
‘Eastern Turkey: An Architectural and Archaeological Survey’ (4 vols) by TA Sinclair, £225 per volume; Kindle edition £60 per volume.
Oozing delicious juices, irresistibly moreish, the ‘tirit’ covers a range of traditional Turkish soups and stews, both savoury and sweet, with slices of bread at their heart. Berrin Torolsan serves up the ultimate in comfort food
Visitors arriving by water at the sultans’ pavilion of Küçüksu Kasrı could scarcely believe their eyes. As the gates on the Bosphorus swung open, they entered a world of head-turning theatricality, beauty and embellishment – a Dolmabahçe Palace in miniature that charmed a prince. By Berrin Torolsan. Interior photographs by Fritz von der Schulenburg
Istanbul, straddling two continents and sandwiched between two seas, has a thrillingly varied flora which includes many plants seen nowhere else on the planet. Sadly, it is also critically endangered. Text and photographs by Andrew Byfield
Alice Greenway went to Istanbul to study Turkish and learnt to love swimming in the Bosphorus while she was at it
Two weighty tomes on the glories of Iznik pottery. Tim Stanley reviews the magnificent new Iznik book cataloguing the stupendous Ömer Koç Collection and a new study of Iznik’s Damascus offshoot.
Last Christmas, the art historian Francis Russell escaped the festivities for a hectic week revisiting the Aegean’s most fascinating historic sites, in readiness for a new, enlarged edition of his guide ‘Places in Turkey: A Pocket Grand Tour’. Here is his diary of an action-packed week
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