The Dark Art of Ahad Hosseini

Almost next door to the Blue Mosque in Iran's former capital of Tabriz, is the Azarbaijan Museum. The exhibits on the top two floors featured all the usual old pots, coins and one-armed statues, but down in the basement I found something far more interesting: the 'Misery of the World' sculptures by Ahad Hosseini. These fearsome bronze masterpieces radiate a power and intensity that seems entirely alien within the confines of a small provincial museum.

The twelve episodes that make up the collection are entitled 'Ignorance, 'War', 'Chains of Misery', 'The Miserable', 'Hunger', 'Political Prisoner', 'A Crystal Ball', 'Population Growth', 'Racial Discrimination', 'Five Monsters of Death', 'Anxiety' and 'Autumn of Life'. Each of these striking metal constructions exude a depth of darkness and despair that can only be found in the kind of great art that dares to reach through to the underworld and illuminate.

Hosseini believes that 'all our misfortune is from our ignorance' and seems almost morally obliged to lead us on towards greater knowledge and understanding. At the same time, he seems to acknowledge that this same creative force has often only led to greater misery, hunger and anxiety: 'people are scared of the world they have made with their own hands'.

Having filled my mind with Hosseini's apocalyptic visions of a world of misery, I emerged from the neon-lit, but darkness-filled, basement and walked into the museum's cafeteria for a nice cup of tea. I couldn't be bothered with the gift shop.


Desert Search

As we clattered through the Kyzylkum desert in the battered shared taxi, the driver reached across and offered me some pills. When I asked him what they were, he shrugged. Sometimes the drivers would take nicotine pills rather than smoking, but chewing tobacco had already been passed around. When it was time to spit out the dregs, they would push open their doors and gob out huge streams of brown spittle into the passing desert. If the timing were wrong and the wind in the wrong direction, then the back seat passengers would be splattered with the chewed out remains. I was wary of accepting an unknown quantity of...

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Last Chance

The two young Aussie guys in their bright white shirts couldn't hide their disappointment. As the various day trippers had trudged back on to the Fraser Explorer four wheel drive bus, several had looked over to them quizzically. They looked a bit too smart to be on our bus. "We're custom officials" they said, cheerfully. They weren't really. They were trying to flog fifteen minute flights over Fraser Island for seventy five Australian dollars a head. Apparently this was great value, we'd see all the highlights from a bird's eye view - maybe even some dolphins and sting rays - and we wouldn't miss any of the...

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Full Length Books

Tearing up the Silk Road

Two Globes A 100,000 word travelogue detailing a journey from China to Istanbul, through Central Asia, Iran and the Caucasus.

Click here to view more details and the original book blurb for the back cover. You could also check out some of my initial ideas for book cover designs, view the final printed cover and check out the slide show. |

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Voodoo, Slaves and White Man's Graves

My second full-length travel book revolves around an overland journey through Benin, Togo, Ghana, Burkina Faso and Mali.

The book is now available in both print and eBook editions. Check out the West Africa Photo Gallery to view some pictures from this journey or view the full print version of the book cover. |

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Free eBooks

Turkmenbashi's Land of Fairy Tales

A Short Break in Libya

To Camels from Cows: Algeria Overland

All of these short eBooks are available for free in a variety of formats for use on such eReaders as Kindle, Nook and Sony Touch. After downloading the books in Kindle, Epub, RTF, PDB or PDF format, they can then be copied over to the eReader of your choice.

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