The idea of The Safe House is a combination of ideas I have been playing with over the last few years.
I bought an old Arabic house in Damascus, as much an oasis of calm to live in it was also supposed to be a place to host friends and with space for a library and small exhibitions, the quiet lanes of the Old City is home to many artists and craftsmen and I wanted the house to be part of that.
I continued to restore the house even when the war came, my trusty builder finally fled the city for a refugee camp in Iraq leaving his work clothes hanging on his ladder. I had used the money set aside for a rainy day to paint the upper outside walls, there were rockets whizzing overhead and mortar bombs flying back in the opposite direction but I was determined to continue, while entire neighborhoods were being destroyed just a few kms away I was painting mine, it may seem idiotic but I have no regrets. Needless to say, I was eventually forced to leave, I held out for two and half years before leaving, I arrived in Istanbul with only the bags I could carry, broke and bankrupt.
The experience, needless to say had a profound effect on me, I countered nightmares with long solitary walks in the forest, I started to make photographs only for myself and not driven by professional ambition. The process helped me a great deal, photography became my therapy, I stepped back professionally and re-engaged with my passion for photography, went back to where it started. I have been experimenting, learning and creating, using film, paper and chemistry, exploring historical process such as Lumen, Cyanotype and Salt printing among others. I worked professionally as a darkroom technician for more than 15 years before the digital revolution but have always wanted to keep printing my work but never found the time or space, now is the time and I will find the space and from there will try to pass on what I have gained. This will be the Safe House.
The Safe House will be a place of calm, a place to come and reflect, re-charge, where my friends and colleagues can visit to read, write or relax, to be left alone and find comfort in solitude.
The Safe House will be my creative space to write and edit my work, it will have a fully equipped professional darkroom, studio space and library. It will be environmentally friendly and as self sufficient as is practical, a goat for sure and probably chickens.
I am currently searching the beautiful Bulgarian countryside for a property suitable and some way to finance it.
Dear blogging community and creative minded souls if you have any advice or suggestions on making this haphazard idea a reality please do drop me an email.
Peace and Solitude