Millions of poppies bloom here in Turkey every spring but I think they look their best against the greys and greens of antiquity and nature dancing to the waltz of time. I was up at Kayakoy yesterday and was stunned as usual by the profusion of colours. Despite the many roadside verges that have been bulldozed away, it makes me so happy that wild flower meadows are still a normal part of the scenery around here. Let us hope that it lasts!
I was given a telling off yesterday by my neighbour, the farmer’s wife. We have a beautiful Mimosa tree http://spiritrisingherbs.com/?p=33 which blooms throughout the summer but it was planted against the garden wall and, willow like, it’s branches hang down and block the road. I can live with that but, annoyingly, they also grow through the electricity cables.
So every few years I have to give it a severe haircut. I had just climbed down after the latest operation when I was sharply interrogated about my intentions regarding the 50 or so branches strewn across the road. Up ’til then I’d been using a hand saw as chainsaws, me and ladders don’t mix but I explained that I would be using my chainsaw to lop the branches into firewood. Makina yok! she said, zooming off and after a couple of minutes returned with a wicked looking and razor sharp machete and a chopping block. I was then given a lesson in the art of stripping off the twigs and lopping the 10 ft. branches into one foot lengths with the same apparent effort as it takes to scramble an egg. Suitably impressed, I was handed the heavier than it looked billhook and told to start. Well, after two minutes I discovered, unsurprisingly, it wasn’t anywhere near as easy as it looked!
However, I persevered and managed to complete the job in record time with no damage to the enviroment apart from a couple of blisters. I sure my neighbours enjoyed a good laugh….”Guess what! He was going to use a machine to make a bit of firewod!” And Gina has promised to buy me a machete for Xmas….mmmm
Anyway this has nothing whatsoever to do with my painting today which is of a lonely chimney stack back in Kayakoy.
Cultural Connections is an annual celebration of literature, film, art, music, dance and food… all the stuff of life that links humanity throughout the world. Both stimulating, challenging, occasionally provocative and always fun, Cultural Connections is an excitingly different and thought provoking way to explore the things that bring people together.
This five-day event, Kayaköy Connections 2013 will celebrate the Kaya valley in southwest Turkey, its long history, rich culture and links with Greece. Acclaimed authors Louis de Bernières, Victoria Hislop, Jeremy Seal will be travelling from the UK and Sofka Zinovieff will be joining them from Athens. Others, from Turkey, Greece, yet to be decided, will join them to take part in a range of thought provoking, fun and entertaining events and gatherings.
More information can be found here http://culturalconnectionsfestival.com/
Mostly the light is harsh and unforgiving, it comes from directly above so doorways and windows become black holes. Then again, the sun shines on the white plaster of an internal wall and the window opposite beams like a searchlight. Other days the light is hazy and diffuse, and there isn’t much contrast, shadows get bleached out, then there are no really dark areas and the light bounces off the stone into the shadows. The walls have eroded into dark and light areas that are independant of the light. So a vertical dark band on a facing wall gives the impression of a shadowed side wall which would naturally be light (if it was there!). And all the walls are like that. Its very confusing to the eye and I struggle to resolve it without losing realism. For example, the apse(in shadow) is lighter than the side wall of the church (in the light) and the pink plastered walls actually seem to glow It’s very tricky. On the other hand it’s one of the things that make Kayakoy so visually fascinating to me.
I’ve just finished the larger work based on the sketch I posted on the 3rd February. Prosaically, I’ve called it The Glade. It has ended up with more detail than I originally planned to paint and, as usual, I keep telling myself to loosen up!
On his recent visit to Fethiye, Turkey’s Minister of Culture and Tourism, Ertuğrul Günay, said that work on a project to reinvent Kayaköy was in progress, and added, “….we have been endeavouring to remake Kayaköy as an additional feature for the affluent Turkish culture and tourism market. A tourism establishment of 300 beds will be constructed and the historical public buildings will be restored, whereby Kayaköy will become a destination for cultural tourism….we shall be asking for bids over the forthcoming weekend, however we must first look for an investor.” He added, “Kayaköy has been a desolate area since the population exchange with most significant natural and historical treasures. It is a very special destination point…..Kayaköy will become one of the most significant tourism centres in Turkey and will enrich the the potential of S.W. Turkey, especially Fethiye…..We certainly do not intend to have all the buildings restored to become tourism facilities. It will be a historical site to be visited on a large scale.”
From a prominent politician, these are interesting and worrying statements indeed. Where will these developments lead? Is this the end of the beginning or the beginning of the end? You may draw your own conclusions.
My thanks to the Land of Lights where the full story can be seen in this week issue.
I’d like to quote from Frank Kane writing in the Observer in January 2005. In it he shares some of the emotions I feel up there, especially on an autumn evening.
“The atmosphere is sad, eerie and strangely beautiful, especially in the early evening when the long shadows creep across the road ways. Broken down buildings have the ever present olive trees growing in among their decaying rooms, and it all looks oddly ancient with its discolored buildings and polished stone surfaces. The weather is harsh and extreme up here and alternate frost and searing sun have given the ruins that golden look that many antiquities have taken thousands of years to acquire.”
His article can be read in full at www.guardian.co.uk/travel/2005/jan/30/turkey.observerescapesection.
There has been news of change to come in Kayakoy and lets face it, It’s about time. I think we are past the “why?” stage. If nothing is done this beautiful, haunting place will eventually tumble down, worn away by the weather and the footsteps of a million tourists. The big questions are what should be done, closely followed by how, who by and when? Meanwhile, I’ll keep painting it.
The Kaya Wine House hides itself on a back road that winds through the rugged hills around the “Ghost” village of Kayakoy and it oozes a kind of quiet beauty that’s becoming increasingly rare in this part of Turkey. The building is rough stone and twisted wood tangled with wrought ironwork draped with vines. The owners, their family, friends and clients, old artefacts, bottles, tools and a mysterious assortment of junk are strewn around the courtyard. They make and sell wines here, all sorts of country wines from all sorts of produce and it is worth seeking out for it’s rustic charm.
I’m creating a series of paintings of Kayakoy and intend to return there many times in this blog. Today I want to share a recent watercolour I made of a corner of this charming retreat.