Syria is a middle eastern country that is steeped in the history of western Europe. It is not an Islamic state but a Socialist Republic. Like Lebanon, many different religions share cities and streets, nowhere is this more evident than in the palimpsest that is the Umayyad mosque, a building that started life as a Roman Temple dedicated to Jupiter, was converted into a Christian Basilica which still contains the head of John the Baptist and is today one of the most important holy sites in the Islamic world. This layering of history beliefs and culture is what makes Damascus, the oldest continually inhabited city on the planet, such a fascinating place . Drawings cannot capture the intensity of life, colour and aromas that stimulate all of ones senses, but I hope that they describe the architectural qualities that lie in the doorways, windows, walls and streets of this incredible place.
Michael Stiff is a practicing architect who is as well known for his drawings as for his architecture, the two are mutually dependent.
Over the last 25 years his work has been exhibited in numerous group shows and notably in five Solo shows of drawings and paintings. His work has been extensively exhibited in Europe and the US as well as in the UK, in public and private galleries. It has been used in handbooks and to illustrate magazines and has been purchased by the RIBA drawings collection.
Previous exhibitions have explored the architecture of places that are on the cusp of change, Berlin and the Eastern bloc cities in the 1980s, China and Japan in the 1990s and Syria and Lebanon in the first decade of the 21st century. The architectural theme is in part an interest in history, memory and place, and also in a small way, a record of places that are vanishing, either through decay or modernisation.