Friday, July 18, 2014

Artistic Adventures In Hasankeyf: Ingathering Number Five!

"A building does not have to be an important work of architecture to become a first-rate landmark. Landmarks are not created by architects. They are fashioned by those who encounter them after they are built. The essential feature of a landmark is not its design, but the place it holds in a city's memory. Compared to the place it occupies in social history, a landmark's artistic qualities are incidental."
 ~Herbert Muschamp 

There is so much to say about Hasankeyf where does one begin?
 View of the Tigris from a Hasankeyf teahouse next to the castle. 

Artists capturing Hasankeyf on paper!
In May of this year, I was part of a group of artists who attended “Hasankeyf Ingathering Number 5.” As an artist, art historian and general humanist it’s no wonder why I am drawn this particular little village in South Eastern Turkey that is under threat of being flooded in the next few years. Many of the people have given up and left for other areas of Turkey, but many have stayed to fight for their 12,000 year old ancestral town as long as they can. It seems that only the strong characters and their children have stayed, which makes this little Arabic-Kurdish-Turkish speaking town quite the place to visit and spend some time exploring.

I’m going to digress a bit here as I see parallels between Hasankeyf and my hometown. I grew up in Naramata, BC,  a very small, idyllic village in Canada, 14 km from the next big town, Penticton. Naramata isn’t on a river like Hasankeyf, but we do have a large lake in front of us. Hasankeyf and Naramata are both small tightly knit communities that are facing swift changes that threaten what makes them the unique communities they are. 

One of the many passageways carved out of the hillside centuries ago.
The surrounding hills of Hasankeyf have much to offer anyone interested in 
hiking, photography and history. 
Growing up in the 80’s, Naramata was a very well hidden secret, full of families who wanted to raise their kids in the beauty and safety of a tight village. Naramata’s livelihood was dependant on the fruit industry usually run by orcharding families. In the summer we would swim in the lake, eat stone fruit out of the orchards, and watch out for big fruit trucks carrying big bins of fruit to the thriving packing house located in the middle of the village. Farming was never a get rich quick kind of livelihood, but it made for an extremely rich place to live. 

The Koc Mosque. The minaret below is attached to the 
Sultan Suleyman Mosque. This area was thought
 to have been the commercial and 
intellectual center of the Lower City.
But then the wineries moved in, and now almost all of the orchards have been ripped out and replaced with grape vines. Big fortress-like buildings with heavy oak doors and slick-looking tasting rooms moved in and replaced the barns full of farming equipment and orchard ladders. I can’t blame people for wanting to make a living and the wineries have helped the area by bringing in new tourism dollars and an industry that employs a lot of people in the town. 

But now Naramata has become a popular place for summer housing, and this is the real danger to our little community. It means that people aren’t living here year round. And when people aren’t living here year round, or are moving here only to retire, the elementary school is under threat to be closed every year. They have already started sending grades six and seven to the next town for school. If the school closes, I am afraid there will be no incentive for families to move to the village and the community will suffer immensely. Not to mention the businesses such as the restaurant, pub, coffee shop and local store that need to be sustained year round. With no winter population I have a soft spot for these businesses that continue to try to make a go of it in Naramata. 
Hasankeyf Ingathering participants out for a morning walk along the Tigris,
for a better look at the figures on the Artukid Bridge. 

Granted, Naramata’s problems are nothing like Hasankeyf’s. We aren’t going to physically lose our town and there is growth in Naramata whether we like it or not. But I keep thinking about what it was like to grow up as a kid in there, and how I return year after year because this is the beautiful place I like to call home. And when I am in Hasankeyf, I see the kids playing in the streets, running in and out of the mosque courtyards and playing in the ruins that once were great buildings on a strategic position on the Silk Road. It is easy to see how they love their town. They play football in the street and catch fish in the Tigris. They visit with the neighbours who all know exactly who they are, and who their parents and grandparents are. It’s like the whole town has a hand in raising everyone’s child. And one day, they may not have a home to return to. I cant imagine how horrifying and devastating that would be, to live under the threat that you will lose everything you know in the near future. (But when is the near future? This discussion has been on the table for forty years! No one really knows when the near future actually is- except now that the dam is 80% finished, the near future seems nearer than ever.) 

Some of this year's art workshop participants: I didn't know we were covering our faces with the map! 
(As we didn't have parental permission to take photos of the kids this was a creative solution!)
Recently the government came through and spray-painted big ugly numbers on the sides of the buildings to mark them for the minuscule payout the Hasankeyfers will receive once they are evicted from their homes. One resident, frustrated with the spray painted ugliness remarked, “How can we tell the kids that vandalizing the monuments hurts our town when the government comes in and does it themselves?” Residents aren’t  legally allowed to make improvements to their homes either. It’s a depressing situation for those who choose to live in Hasankeyf. As the dam has threatened their town and way of life for over forty years, I can’t imagine what that would do to a psyche of people growing up and living under this kind of constant threat. 

Printmaking with recycled styrofoam veggie trays. 
Last year I was asked to be part of a project to create a walking guide for Hasankeyf in the hopes that if there was a guide to the monuments in town, that people visiting Hasankeyf could understand the importance of what they were looking at, and that those on a day trip could see what they were missing and return at another time to visit it in it’s entirety. John Crofoot and a few Hasankeyf trekking guides perfected the outline for the walking guide, and I created a visual that was both functional and aesthetically pleasing. The map was a hit, especially with the younger inhabitants, so I went out to Hasankeyf in March 2013 for Hasankeyf Ingathering number 3, and with the help of John and a few others, we put on a free art workshop for the kids, aimed at getting them to express their feelings about their town. 

Puppets and letter decorating!

John told me to prepare for thirty kids, but we had just over fifty (John says fifty, I say more!) show up in the park that was graciously lent to us by the Belediye. I was expecting mayhem since we barely had enough supplies (I over-planned but I hadn’t over-planned that much!) but luckily our wax-resist puffy pillows were a hit. We had to water down the paint even further to stretch it out  and break all of the oil pastels in half to make sure everyone could access what they needed. When we were finished, two things surprised me: 1) that the kids were happy to leave their creations hanging from the trees in the park, and 2) that they were almost as excited about the clean up as the art making. Kids borrowed a water hose and some brooms from the Belediye next door and I watched in vain as our brand new paintbrushes were used to clean spilled paint out of the crevices in the concrete. But I was ecstatic to have been part of this experience, and everyone who helped in the workshops came out on a creative and inspirational high. 

A view of the Tigris with the new bridge.
So when the opportunity came up again in May of this year, I jumped at it. But why limit the art making to kids? Let’s bring adults too. Hasankeyf has more than enough interesting architecture, plant, animal and people life to draw- it’s an Urban Sketcher’s dream. So Hasankeyf Matters and I spread the word, mostly through Facebook, that the Fifth Ingathering would be an artist-themed gathering, and a group of my favourite people from Istanbul flew out to Batman and then on to Hasankeyf and we had an amazing weekend, drawing, eating, talking, and learning about the new challenges Hasankeyf is facing. 

Smashing job of the Minaret, mini Hasankeyfers!
The dam is about 80% finished. Some are losing hope of saving the town, but others are wondering if a series of smaller dams could distribute the same amount of water evenly through the river (resulting in a lower water level around Hasankeyf.) It seems strange that the government has gone ahead with restorations to structures that will most likely be flooded. There was talk that the government may cover everything with a highly durable plastic (much like giant condoms!) or cement over certain structures (such as the Artukid Bridge) so when the dam has completed it’s 40 year life cycle, they may be able to recover some of Hasankeyf. 

We did two days of workshops this time around, and since we had other artsy participants, we decided to do stations instead to maximize the creative talent. I paired up with a fellow art teacher from Istanbul, and we did finger puppets one day, and printmaking the next, though there were other activities such as stamping, painting and decorating a large “I love Hasankeyf” sign. I thought perhaps the puppet project could lead into story telling, and maybe one day it will, as I have heard the kids are excited about making puppets again. I would like to create some sort of fabric puppet theatre for next time (something that could be strung up between trees and then rolled up and put away for future use.) Because I believe there are lots of stories that need to be told about Hasankeyf, and the world needs to start listening to them. 

The Timurid built Zeynel Bey Tomb.
It’s my hope that no matter what happens to Hasankeyf, that these kids remember these workshops as a time where the came together to celebrate their town and why it was important to them. If the Ilisu dam project goes ahead and Hasankeyf does get flooded, may they remember the positive community building experiences they had in the art workshops and carry this with them to their new lives. I hope they get the idea that together in the art workshops they can talk to each other about ideas and cooperatively solve problems. Today’s kids deal with paint. Soon they will be the ones in charge. They can only benefit from the community dialogue that is happening in the workshops at their level now.  

On another serious note, looking at the big picture, the world has not been kind to Islamic antiquities over the past few years. We have lost  the Buddhas in Afghanistan, The Islamic Arts Museum in Cairo, Various sites in Syria such as the Great Mosque of Aleppo and the Souk in Aleppo, possibly the winged lions and other Antiquities in Mosul, Iraq, and God knows what is being lost other than precious human lives in Gaza and Israel at the time I type this. All of these World heritage monuments have been lost because of terrorism and bombings. It floors me to think that so many antiquities that have survived for hundreds of years in the hands of humans and all of a sudden we have lost them all in a matter of a decade. (Not to make light of the atrocious number of innocent lives lost as well.) 

The one and only drawing I managed to squeeze in!
Too much to do in Hasankeyf!
And here we have Hasankeyf- not only important for the people who live there and call it home but it is also home to structures that are becoming increasingly rare and important- not only because we are learning what they are (despite the governments campaign to keep Hasankeyf a secret since it meets nine out of the ten requirements to be deemed a UNESCO site- to qualify for UNESCO WHL status, a site must meet at least one of ten criteria.  Very few listed sites meet more than four.  Hasankeyf meets nine of the ten!) but because these monuments are becoming rarer in a volatile world. Take the Artukid Bridge, the spinal cord of Hasankeyf, which is decorated with figures still visible around the base. Since depictions of living things is  frowned upon in Islamic art, this is a rare find indeed- and only one example of the many treasures scattered around Hasankeyf. It’s not too late to save these monuments, if people are listening. 

So head out to Hasankeyf and see it. 
Just in case. And take the map with you! 

Further Reading: 
All things Hasankeyf: 

Friday, March 7, 2014

Yabangee Interview with Melanie Mehrer

Thank you to Laurel Green of for conducting the following interview which lets me plug my upcoming exhibition at St. Pulcherie High School and also my love for Hasankeyf. Please join us at the ext ingatherin May 16-19 for some creative play! You just need to get yourself to Hasankeyf to join in the fun!
The original article can be found here:

Meet Melanie Mehrer, an artist who is gearing up for an exhibition in April. She has traveled all over Turkey, including to Hasankeyf, where she helped create a walking guide for the area with the help of local residents and offered free art workshops. Read more about her below! 
Why did you come to Istanbul?
I did my undergraduate degree in Art History, with a strong focus in Islamic Art, even though at the time I had never been to an Islamic country. I was drawn to the architecture of mosques and Islamic geometric patterns. I remember sitting in a course I was taking on Ottoman art history and all of a sudden realizing that everything we had studied that month- Topkapı Palace, Hagia Sophia, the Islamic Arts Museum and the Blue Mosque were all in the same neighbourhood! I was completely blown away! A few years later, my sister and I did a three-month trip through Egypt, Jordan, Syria and into Turkey. We took a bus from Aleppo to Cappadocia, and then an overnight bus to Istanbul. We had only planned on about four days in Istanbul before we headed down the coast, but I dropped my bags in a youth hostel and said to my sister, “You go ahead, I’m staying here for the next three weeks.” Partly it was because I was tired of carrying those bags, but Istanbul was immediately fascinating, and I knew three weeks wouldn’t be enough. The funny part about that first trip is that the youth hostel we stayed at was across the street from the apartment I eventually lived in with my sister eight years later!
What do you do here?
I do many things here, but my main job is teaching Visual Arts at a Turkish private school. I’m also preparing for the exhibition ‘Printemps Des Artistes’ at Saint Pulcherie High School, which is a fundraiser for Lape Hospital. (The opening is on Friday, April 4th at Saint Pulcherie and is open to the public.) There will be nine artists including me exhibiting work there, so it’s very exciting. I am also doing some contract work for a Turkish publishing company designing book covers and children’s book illustrations, which I am really excited about. I find at the moment I don’t have much time between work and preparing for shows, but I’m hoping once the Saint Pulcherie show is up it will be spring and I will have more time to go out and enjoy some new inspiration in this fantastic city.
What is the biggest challenge you have faced here?
I know the usual answer is the language, which is definitely my biggest challenge. But another big challenge I have had to deal with is having my artwork stolen from my blog and put on things for sale in the tourist areas of Istanbul. I have a lawyer who is dealing with the cases, and I am happy that I have essentially stopped the pirating of my artwork and that the infringers and I are clear that copyright infringement is taken seriously in Turkey.
When it first happened, a lot of people told me there was nothing I could do about it in Turkey and I was silly for trying to stop them. Some people said I should be flattered that my work was so appealing that three separate companies decided to pirate my images. I ask those people, “If I had a really nice camera, should I be flattered if someone steals it?” Of course not. Business is business, the copyright belongs to me as the artist, and I need to protect my business, just as any businessperson would. It’s a lesson I teach my students: you own your ideas. They are yours, and nobody is allowed to steal them from you. Artists do have rights that are respected in this country.
What do you do for fun?
Between work and painting, I haven’t had much time for anything else. But when I want to unwind, I like to go visit my old landlord in Sultanahmet. We sometimes take a bottle of wine to the roof of the building, gossip, and watch the ships on the Marmara Sea. Other times I take my museum card and head into Sultanahmet where I can wander for hours in Hagia Sophia. I have also been researching all of the legends of Istanbul and there are so many in Hagia Sophia, so I go and look for the “evidence.” My favourite legend of late is that the reason the dome of Hagia Sophia hasn’t collapsed in a thousand years is because it was painted on the inside with a mixture of paint and prophet’s bones. I also love the legend of Sinan’s love for Mihrimah Sultan. I recently did a painting of it, which will be on display at Saint Pulcherie in April.
I also like to volunteer for various charity activities that I can support with my artistic skills. I have made backdrops for the British Panto, and I am currently helping out with the poster design for the British Fete at the British Consulate this summer. I also donated artwork that was auctioned off at a Charity for LOSEV. I can’t always give time or money, but I can contribute to the charities with the skills I have and I feel really good about that.
My favourite volunteer activity so far has been to create a walking guide for Hasankeyf with the help of local residents who want people to come out to Hasankeyf and see their jewel of a town. Last spring I went out and did a free art workshop with the kids of Hasankeyf. We gathered in a park and painted pictures of things they love about Hasankeyf and made big puffy paper pillows with them. I was told to expect thirty, and over seventy showed up! Good thing I am an over-planner! It was a beautiful experience and one I hope to repeat again this spring. I hear the kids are already asking about it and want to add some theatre in there, so I have my thinking cap on! You can download your own walking guide of Hasankeyf here.
Where do you unwind/relax? Where is your favourite haunt?
My favourite thing to do in all of Istanbul is go have a drink under Galata Bridge with friends. In my opinion, the Galata Bridge has the best view of the city. You can sit and have a raki, watch the ferries come and go, watch the Bosphorus Bridge change colour, look at the gorgeous cityscape, watch the fishermen above pull up their catch, and listen to the call to prayer from the New Mosque. And best of all, it’s a good point to meet friends because the ferries are right there if you live on the Asian side. Once I was eating dinner under the bridge and there was a large bang! on our table. I felt a chip of ceramic hit me, but then nothing looked broken on the table. After about a minute we realised what happened- a fishing weight has broken off its line and landed squarely in the toothpick holder! It was really quite funny. We decided it must be a good luck charm and I gave it to my friend who was just about to start a journey across Turkey by foot.
What has been your biggest surprise about Istanbul?
The new metro-lines have been a pleasant surprise. I currently live in Erenköy, and commuting to Europe to see friends is a long journey. The first time I took the Marmaray tunnel I timed it and I found it cut forty minutes off my commute! An hour and twenty minutes less of a commute on a given day is a beautiful thing and makes me feel better connected to the rest of the city.
Do you have any advice for other expats?
My biggest piece of advice for people living in Istanbul is to get out of Istanbul. Especially out east. I have been east three times and I love it. My favourite trip so far has been Gaziantep, Urfa, Mardin, Diyarbakir, Hasankeyf and Van. I never felt unsafe in the east and was always treated with respect as a female traveler. It’s an amazing country out there; get out and explore it. Especially Hasankeyf! And take the walking guide with you!

Friday, June 28, 2013

The Perfect Indigo: An Afternoon with Musa Basaran and Natural Dye!

“Hold on to your divine blush, your innate rosy magic, or end up brown. Once you're brown, you'll find out you're blue. As blue as indigo. And you know what that means. Indigo. Indigoing. Indigone.”

-Tom Robbins

Mr Musa Basaran, at home in his Atelier! Cherries, wine, cheese, kilims and a friendship started many years ago!

Many years ago when I lived in Canada I wrote a blog about my old Kilim weaving landlord, Musa Basaran called Missing Musa. Lately, even though I have been living in Turkey for almost a year, I was missing Musa again. I decided once summer holidays came and the demands of my job were over, I would go spend sometime with Musa. So imagine my amusement when on the day my holiday started my phone rang. 

“Melanie! Why haven’t you come to visit me?” 
“I’m coming to see you!” 
“Yes really.” 
Okay! See you tomorrow! Come before I go home at six!” 

So I went to visit Musa yesterday and we ate cherries and cheese and drank wine, complained and gossiped and laughed. And he told me that this morning, he would dye a batch of silk with indigo. 
“If you come before nine, you can watch!” 
So I dragged my holidaying butt out of bed this morning and went to Sultanahmet, to watch Musa work his magic. 

When I got there, he was in the middle of a weaving lesson but I sat and chatted with the American woman as she navigated the warp and weft of a barely begun kilim. Every so often, Musa would come out from preparing our dyeing experiment to see her progress. “Uff! You need to come in two warp threads on each side to make a triangle!” Musa would undo this woman’s hard work in a few minutes and whip it back into shape before we had time to actually comprehend what he was doing. 

But soon we were ready to dye with Indigo. Traditionally, urine was used as the acid needed for indigo, but we luckily Musa hadn’t been saving up: we used Hydro Sulphate and Ammonia.

The silk prepared and ties to a stick for easy dipping. 

Hydro Sulphate. Into the boiling pot!

Add half a Turkish tea glass of Ammonia. Musa told me to give it a whiff before I knew it was ammonia. I think I shot out a nostril and several thousand brain cells. 

Indigo! Is not a dye like other dyes. it just coats fibres and doesn’t penetrate- which is why blue jeans fade white and aren’t blue all the way through. 

Indigo is weird because when it hits water, it loses it’s blue colour and turns yellow. The silk in the dye vat looks yellow until you bring it out and it oxidizes in the air. Like magic!

Goodbye, whitish coloured natural silk!

Musa lifts it out to show us how it works. This is yellow turning into blue (now green) when the silk comes into contact with air. 

Yellowish dye vat, but you can see it turning blue where the indigo oxidizes around the rim of the stainless steel vat. 

Musa left this in for only a minute or two- he was after a light blue. 

Next batch! This silk was yellow before it went in- dyed with Buckthorn and Camomile. Natural green is a very hard colour to come by, so you have to dye yellow and blue together to get a green. 

Oooh! Someone is good at green and knows it! he brought it out from the kitchen to show me. 

Nice looking green! I approve.

When you start dyeing, it’s addicting. Musa found some old blue he didn’t like and wanted t make it darker. At one point he jokes that I should give him my skirt to throw in. I would have been tempted, except this crap polyester skirt would have just left me naked in the kitchen with nothing to show for it- you can only dye natural fibres. 

Much better blue! One this I learned in textiles class is that there is a very large amount of chemistry and knowledge needed for natural dyeing. For instance vegetable based materials like cotton and bamboo have a smoother molecular structure, so the dye doesn’t stick as nicely as it does to silk and wool, which comes from animals. 

Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn, and caldron bubble!

Part of the beauty of natural dyes is that the unevenness gives it texture and depth. 

"Melanie! The show is finished!” He said when we were done dyeing with Indigo. But Musa is not used to the show being finished if he still has your attention, so we played with a spindle and he showed  me how to spin with it. 

Spin spin spin! Funny, I usually don’t have time to sit and watch a spinning spindle, but truthfully, there was nothing I would rather do this morning than spend a relaxing visit with my favourite Turkish man. 

Musa also showed me all of his traditional tools- that thing in the back is a wool carder.  

I’ll show you how to use those net lesson!” He laughs.  
“I will bring the next bottle of wine!” I promise as I zip out the heavy door and back onto the back streets of Sultanahmet. 

Thanks for a wonderful morning, Musa! 

Video with Musa dyeing yellow to green:
The many colours of Naturally dyed silk you will find in Musa’s kilims.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

The Great Walking Guide of Hasankeyf!

“Map-making had never been a precise art on the Discworld. People tended to start off with good intentions and then get so carried away with the spouting whales, monsters, waves and other twiddly bits of cartographic furniture that the often forgot to put the boring mountains and rivers in at all.”

~Terry Pratchett, Moving Pictures

The Walking guide of the endangered 12,000 year old town of Hasankeyf. Hasankeyf meets 9/10 criteria to be a UNESCO site but the government would rather put it underwater with the building of the proposed Ilisu Dam on the Tigris River. 

I have always been fascinated by maps. When I was a child my father once told me I could dig a hole straight through the world and come out in China. I wasn’t sure he was right about that, so I tried digging a hole to see if it were true. Unfortunately a toe-shovel accident ended that expedition, so plan B was to check our globe.

 (By the way, Dad, if I dug a hold straight through the earth, I most likely would have ended up in India!)

But this gave birth to one of my favourite past times- sitting on the floor with that old globe, spinning it as fast as I could with my eyes closed. Where my finger stopped the spinning was where I would go in my imagination. 

John Crofoot told me he was in a cafe in Hasankeyf when a man came in, picked up the map and looked at it. After a moment, he held it up, pointed at the row of sheep and announced, “These are our sheep!"

I had a map of the world that hung in every apartment I have had over the past ten years and I would play the same game, though the globe in reality was much more fun. In Shanghai, the map hung on the kitchen wall and I was amused at how many people, (instead of waiting for me in the more comfortable living room) would stand in the kitchen looking at that map. There is something magical about maps. Of new adventures and life happening in places me might never go, of possibilities of going there, of places we’ve been in the past and places we may go in the future. My map was too tattered to bring with me to Istanbul, but I am on the look out for a new one. 

So I was excited and honoured to be presented a special opportunity this year to create a walking guide for the Village of Hasankeyf in Eastern Turkey for Hasankeyf Matters; a group of people concerned Hasankeyf will be lost forever if the Ilusu Dam gets built on the Tigris.

Welcome to Hasankeyf! The 12th C Artukid Bridge in the background; It used to have a wooden top that could be dismantled in a heartbeat  in case anyone tried to invade. The Tigris, which gave birth to the town of Hasankeyf, may prove to be its demise if the dam becomes a reality.

 In 2009, Rene and I had heard the flooding of Hasankeyf was imminent so we spent an afternoon there. We wandered around looked at the town, bought a few goat hair rugs and left. We snapped pictures of the old Roman bridge, walked through one of the canons and looked at old cave houses and even visited with an old lady who still lived in one. We saw ruins of mosques and a tomb, and stuck our feet in the Tigris and bathed in this little 12,000 year old town. But that’s all we really knew about Hasankeyf.

Friends of Hasankeyf bird watching along the Tigris at the 3rd Hasankeyf In-Gathering. 

So this year, my good friend Jonathan put me in touch with John Crofoot of Hasankeyf Matters and he told me his idea of a walking guide through the village of Hasankeyf to encourage people to discover the important endangered archeological sites scattered through town. I wasn’t sure if he’d seen any of my artwork. He didn’t seem too concerned. 

As John was in Hasankeyf and I was in Istanbul, we hashed out drafts through copious emails and uploaded attachments which were shown to the people in Hasankeyf for their input. I was given a google map to work off of with marked sites, and pictures for each place marked. John, a wealth of knowledge, spent time describing flora and fauna and the colours of Hasankeyf (a freshly plucked deep purple fig which when peeled revealed a vibrant earthy green was one of his descriptions!) Together, the walking guide to Hasankeyf was born. 

The exquisite  Zeynel Bey Tomb.  Zeynel Bey died in a battle against the Ottomans in 1473.

I wanted the map to be a work of art, and playful, as is the town of Hasankeyf. Since it’s so close to the border of Iran and has such a rich history, I wanted it to resemble a Persian miniature painting. I stylized the flora and fauna of the town, 
but it is all still recognizable to the children of Hasankeyf who have pointed out the plants and animals and explained them to visitors! 

Though the map is quie simple, it was one of the most complex projects I have ever worked on and I am grateful to John and Necdet Talayhan for their input on getting it right. 

Someone moved into the Artukid Bridge. The things you can do when a site isn’t protected. 

In April, I was able to go out to Hasankeyf with a group of like-minded individuals  at the 4th Hasankeyf Ingathering and put my own map to use. (I also did a painting workshop there but I will save that for another blog entry.) I can’t really describe the experience very well but to say I felt like the map was a child I’d just seen off to college, and they were excelling at their studies like mad without any help from me. Standing on one of the hills looking down at the town of Hasankeyf for the first time since 2009, I recognised places from my painting and the buildings looked like old friends who I knew well this time around.  The painting is mine but the planning belongs to John and Necdet and they did an incredibly caring and intelligent job. The graphics were done by Marta Marszal (link to her below) 
and I couldn’t be happier with how the map looks. 

I’m not sure how the people of Hasankeyf feel about a foreign Canadian girl painting 
such a bizarre little walking guide of their town.But we all agree if it brings people out to Hasankeyf to walk around and get to know it and feel it’s worth saving, it must be a good thing. 
John and Firat on a hike of the Canyons where we ate Dandelion greens and thistle stalks Firat picked for us along the way. If the flooding happens, Firat will lose his beautiful guesthouse and family home which has a beautiful garden complete with fruit trees that his grandfather planted several decades back. 

I am also extremely honoured that Hasankeyf Matters included the map in their petition to put Hasankeyf on the “EuropaNostra Most endangered sites of Europe” list, and Hasankeyf was shortlisted! The big announcement of whether or not they are officially on the list will come on June 16th. I would like to think the map was the icing on a very delicious cake!

And now the map is yours! Feel free to download it, share it, and if you have the opportunity, use it! 

The Children of Hasankeyf we all given a colour copy of the map to take home. “This must be a treasure map!” they announced! I think that is my favourite reaction to the Walking Guide, because Hasankeyf itself is a treasure that is unique in that it isn’t lost yet. And who wants to lose treasure?

The Walking Guide to Hasankeyf:

Link to Superb Graphic Artist Marta Marszal:

Links to Awesome blogs about Hasankeyf:

Hasankeyf Matters: Essential reading about the latest of Hasankeyf.

Hasankeyf matters facebook page:

A common story between Chibayish and Hasankeyf:

The Europa Nostra shortlist:

See you in Hasankeyf!