Our studies into the nature of beauty took us into the world of classic Turkish carpets with Christopher Andrews. Chris has been studying classic carpet design ever since coming across Christopher Alexander's book, A Foreshadowing of 21st Century Art and his initial interest has grown into something of an obsession.
In addition to running an architecture practice, Chris creates knot by knot drawings of carpets which are hand woven in Anatolia, Turkey.
His most recent project is focused on reproducing designs for carpets hanging in christian churches in Transylvania.
"Why are centuries old Turkish carpets hanging in Transylvanian churches?"
Well, the church went through a reformation some time ago and decided that iconography wasn't so pious anymore. Frescoes were removed or whitewashed over, and suddenly churches became the spare, white spaces we are familiar with today.
Something special happened in Transylvania. After spending some time with the white walls, parishioners decided that a little color was needed. However, the edict against iconography was still strong, and so they turned to a decorative tradition thriving under its own iconoclasm, traditional rugs from Turkey.
Wealthy parishioners would donate their rugs to the church to be either hung on the walls or on pews to mark a family's sitting spot.
Since these rugs were kept off the floor, and generally escaped the dangers of wear suffered by most rugs which are hundreds of years old, today hundreds still hang in churches all over Romania.
While the rugs are relatively protected, these spaces aren't quite museum quality. So Chris and his collaborators are creating replicas of these historic rugs to replace the originals and transferring the originals to the climate controlled conditions of museums.
Carpets are the perfect introduction to Christopher Alexander's Theory of Centers as a means to analyze and create Wholeness (or beauty) in a space. It's a bit like the familiar 8-bit pixel art style (which is making a comeback) in which a figure grows out of the arrangement of smaller elements. In the case of the rug this smallest element might be the individual fibers, or the knots. In an 8-bit image, the smallest element is a single pixel.
This method isn't atomistic, however, and relies on a recursive effect of overlapping centers growing into and out of each other within a field. More on this later, as the course progresses.
Chris Andrews will be staying in Sorrento through next week and will be joining us as we explore tiles with a local ceramicist.
I actually started the week off finding a downed palm frond during a walk out in the city and attempted to make a mat.
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