From the Wing of a Fly


From the Wing of a Fly

2010, single screen - dimensions variable

From the Wing of a Fly is a film that evolved from a research process that utilises the checkered history of the tulip to raise questions about aesthetics, commerce, symbolic meaning and political change.

The work involved a quest to find the first tulip, still in existence to be cultivated for human pleasure. It revolved around the early appropriation of the tulip from the wild by the Ottoman sultans (N.E. Turkey c.15), it’s transformation, through greed, chance and disease, into a much coveted commodity during tulipomania (Amsterdam c.17), and its subsequent role in the development of modern systems of financial exchange (New York present day). It examines how a simple, beautiful, chanced upon object can, over time, become tethered and regimented for aesthetic pleasure; become burdened with religious and poetic symbolism and overlaid with economic dogma. The process has involve documented journeys to specific locations, interviews and existing text that are translated into a number of art works.

The first stage of this ambitious project involved an Arts Council funded journey to Istanbul and then north east to the mountains and valleys north of Erzurum, Turkey, to track down and document one of only four indigenous tulip varieties, and one of the first species to be naturalised by the Sultans of the Ottoman Empire in the fifteenth century – tulipa Armena. Throughout this research trip I kept a diary that formed the basis for the text in the finished work.

Having made contact with a landscape architect at Atuturk University, Dr Faris Karahan, I assembled a team that included Okan Toker (camera operator), Musa Han (translator and driver) as well as Erol Cakmak (the head of a United Nations programme to improve rural tourism in the region). They took me not the most incredible journey to seek out the flowering tulips Armena.