The capital of Georgia, Tbilisi, means 'warm' due to its sulphur springs. It has attracted travellers and inspired artists, poets and philosophers for many centuries. The location has shaped its history and appearance. Having been inhabited since the fifth millennium BC, Georgia has been linked with civilizations of Asia Minor, the Aegean and with Greece, Egypt, the Roman and Parthian-Sassanian Empires in the Early Iron Age and the Classical period. At different times it has been occupied by Persians, Byzantines, Arabs, Mongols, Turks and Russians.

In the Middle Ages, Georgian kings made Tbilisi the capital of one of the largest states in the Near East, a crossroads of trade routes and, as described by Marco Polo, a place 'where they weave cloths of gold and all kinds of very fine silk stuffs'. Though Orthodox Christianity dominated, other religions and nationalities were also respected. The main Armenian-Gregorian Church in Tbilisi, St George's Church (above) was built in 1251 by an Armenian merchant. The Persians seized it in the seventeenth century during their invasion. Burnt down in 1795 during the second Persian invasion and gradually restored during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, it keeps its original form. There is a remarkable fragment of stone cross with an Arabic inscription on the north facade of the church.

Destroyed and rebuilt repeatedly, Tbilisi displays an incredible eclectic combination of Oriental and European styles. In the nineteenth century, the Russian Empire enhanced its presence in Georgia bringing in Neo-Classical style, features of the Renaissance and Baroque and Moorish style, together with Art Nouveau and pseudo-Georgian styles which prevailed later. Tbilisi became a bourgeois city, its Opera House was 'if not the best, one of the best in the world' (Alexander Dumas). In the twentieth century, Soviet styles also influenced the city. The old part consists of winding streets with churches, workshops, stores, public sulphur baths, courtyards and 'Tbilisi houses' of two and three floors with lacy wooden balconies, terrace roofing, loggias with stained glass and external ladders of different forms and materials. Even in decay, Tbilisi hopes and hoo.comeat city. IRINA KALASHNIKOVA

[Architecture.Ebook] The Architectural Review - Sellection(2002-2005)

Royal Academy Forum

Royal Academy of Arts

Robert Hewison

Ruskin famously said that, 'the teaching of art is the teaching of all things', setting his pupils at the London Working Men's College the task of representing, by drawing, a white sphere by shading only. It had to be done in a particularly Ruskinian way, not as an outline, but by shading, so that the shape of the sphere emerges as the paper darkens. The illustrations with this paper are selected from drawings members of the audience made during the talk.

Ruskin's commentary on this exercise was, 'It has been objected that a circle, or the outline of a sphere, is one of the most difficult of all lines to draw. It is so; but I do not want it to be drawn. All that this study of the ball is to teach the pupil, is the way in which shade gives the appearance of projection. This he learns most satisfactorily from a sphere; because any solid form, terminated by straight lines or flat surfaces, owes some of its appearance of projection to its perspective; but in a sphere, what, without shade, was a flat circle becomes merely by the added shade, the image of a solid ball; and this fact is just as striking to the learner, whether his circular outlines be true or false. He is, therefore, never allowed to trouble himself about it; if he makes the ball look as oval as an egg, the degree of error is simply pointed out to him, and he does better next time, and better still the next. But his mind is always fixed on the gradation of shade, and the outline left to take, in due time, care of itself'.

Ruskin was not trying to turn working men into artists. As he told them, 'I have not been trying to teach you draw, only to see'. Clear sight, accuracy of observation of both image and word, was a mental discipline that Ruskin taught consistently, and he believed that the best way both to instil that discipline and test the accuracy of a person's perception was through the practice of drawing. He believed, however, that accurate perception, refined by the practice of drawing, was more than an exercise for the eye, it was also a facility for the mind. Speaking at the opening of St Martin's School of Art in London in 1857, he told the students that, 'Drawing enabled them to say what they could not otherwise say; and ... drawing enabled them to see what they could not otherwise see. By drawing they actually obtained a power of the eye and a power of the mind wholly different from that known to any other discipline'.

This remark is significant when we consider recent investigations of visual cognition, which show that the eye and the brain work dynamically together, and that vision is active engagement, not passive reception. Semir Zeki, Professor of Neurobiology at London University, argues in his book Inner Vision: An Exploration of Art and the Brain that one 'sees' with the brain, not the eye, and that what he calls 'the visual brain' is involved in a process of comparing and sorting that amounts to understanding. Ruskin seems to have anticipated this idea when he wrote that sight was a great deal more than the passive reception of visual stimuli, it was 'an absolutely spiritual phenomenon; accurately, and only to be so defined: and the "Let there be light" is as much, when you understand it, the ordering of intelligence as the ordering of vision'. For Ruskin, to achieve a clarity and nicety of vision, it was necessary to go back to the beginning and recover what he called 'the innocence of the eye'.

But, as Zeki's studies show, people's eyes are not innocent. Part of the activity of visualization is the sorting and comparison of remembered

From Ruskinian drawing exercises to advanced mathematics - with architecture, painting and sculpture in between - representation of ideas and objects lies at the heart of intellectual endeavour. Edited by Jeremy Melvin.

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