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Reconstructing Beirut
Hand-tinted photographs
Brenda Turnnidge

I remember a postcard from Beirut, addressed to my Greek grandfather Aristoclis Dimitriadis which arrived out of the blue at our home in 1960s England. How is it that a postcard has left such an impression on me? Where was this mythical Beirut? Over time, I’d built up an image of a magical, almost mystical place; a kind of oriental Paris on the Mediterranean Sea, the sea of my childhood holidays to my mother’s motherland, Greece.

More than 30 years later, I travelled around Lebanon during its first Mois de la Photo in 1998. I built my itinerary around the participating venues from Baalbek to Sidon, via Beirut.

Beirut, along with the rest of Lebanon, was being rebuilt. I was inspired to portray this but not in a photo-journalistic style. On my return to Paris, I headed for the darkroom to print my black and white photographs. Once I was satisfied with them, I reached for my Chinese inks to add that final touch of hope.

During the hand-coloring process, I work spontaneously, injecting new vibrancy and energy into my photographs. A sky may be yellow, buildings pink. Color for hope.

Late summer 2019, filled with optimism and ready to add to my Reconstructing Beirut series I found myself drawn back to Beirut and particularly to its iconic Egg. Unfortunately, I didn’t stay long enough to witness the October revolution. Instead, boosted with enthusiasm, I returned to my tinting activity. Fortunately, I still had a stock of classic Chinese photographic inks from the 1980s.

Then came the explosion …

Let's hope for lasting positive change in Beirut, in
Lebanon ... let's hope.

Three of these photos were shown at Beirut's Art on 56th gallery in Summer 2022.

I’d like to dedicate these personal interpretations of Beirut to its wonderful people.
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Categories & Keywords
Category:City Scenes
Subcategory Detail:
Keywords:., Art on 56th, Beirut, Beyrouth, Lebanon, Liban, The Egg, reconstructing Beirut