Sunday, March 25, 2012

Crusader castles

I was lucky enough to visit Jordan with a medieval art scholar, so on our way to the famously impenetrable Kerak Castle, I got a full narration of the Battle of Hattin and the Third Crusade, including the dastardly deeds of Reynald de Chatillon and the ultimate revenge of Saladin.
Not only that, but my friend Beth had the name of a curator at Kerak, so we were treated to a special tour that involved opening locked doors and descending underground. The image above is the underground hall which served as a war room, with the throne at one end. That's natural light coming from above.
After our tour of the hidden depths of the castle, we clambered around on top, a cold wind whipping at our clothes.  Further along the way to Petra, there was one more small castle, and our driver knew we would want to stop, having witnessed Beth's enthusiasm.
Shobok is much smaller than Kerak, but its isolated location on a high promontory lends drama to the ruins.
My photos from both castles show my penchant for arches, especially in multiples.
I also loved the hand-hewn projectiles for the catapults (Beth calls them trebuchets.) The site was littered with these handmade stone spheres, and they made me smile, somehow losing their sense of weaponry after so many centuries.
It's impressive to think that theses were built to be in communication with one another. A fire signal from Shobok could be seen in Kerak, and the signal from Kerak would reach Jerusalem.
I had a very hard time imagining the scene during the Crusades, but Beth has a vivid imagination and a huge wealth of knowledge. Her expertise shone in full glory in this show at the Getty Museum.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Jordan juxtapositions

It is going to take me a while to present my brief but wondrous trip to Jordan, but in looking at my photos from Petra I could not help seeing these Bedu weavings (the simplest, most everyday weavings, some old and worn, used as drop cloths and tent roofs) as somehow reflective of the landscape's drama.

I eagerly photographed both, and they seemed to have a dialogue going back and forth. 
Most of these utilitarian weavings are made with recycled synthetic yarns, not handspun. They inspired me with their straightforward practicality, their obvious role as useful objects.
There is much, much more to come.

Sunday, March 4, 2012


It has been a long time since I posted, but I have a print article available right now, in the Spring 2012 issue of Spin-Off Magazine.  It's about the Bedouin weaver I met in the souk here in Doha, and readers of the blog will be familiar with some of the content from previous posts, such as Ouerjan and String.
Above is a bonus view of her most recent weaving. The variegated natural yarn is handspun.

While I'm at it, I'll share my Bedouin-inspired finished pieces from the turn of the year. A bag made from my cotton ouerjan weaving:
And from the handspun souk yarn, a pillow cover with a bit of twining and a figure eight joining stitch.
Meanwhile, here in Doha we've had nasty, dusty wind, coming over from major storms in Saudi Arabia (a dust storm and a snow storm, apparently.)  So I've been thinking about the color of dust.