Heidi Trautmann

254 - Ismail Işilsoy – a poetic sculptor


By Heidi Trautmann


Yeşılırmak, a place at the back entrance of the island of Cyprus, a valley of fruit on three sides surrounded by mountains, on one by the sea, so that the damp winds can come in and are hold there; a river, now dry, will carry the waters from the mountains in winter. A place where there are strawberries, avocados and mangoes and water needy vegetables, a hidden place all green, a lush growth, a place Ismail Işilsoy has chosen to live and work.


It was a Sunday, on June 5, that we went to see his 6th exhibition of wood carvings made of old door and window frames as he says but also from roots he finds. This year’s exhibition he dedicated to famous figures of history and legend with the leading unforgettable figure of Hasan Bullis in 1890s. His house and workshop “Wooden Faces of Cyprus” lies amid strawberry fields where women bow to pick the juicy fruit. Ismail has very delicately put up his exhibition in his lovely green garden on green grass under trees, one being a blooming myrtle tree.

Each wooden face on a separate stand with the name and date written on and a poetic introduction. Ismail, the poetic sculptor, former actor and theatre director, has created his own world with the antic past living next to today’s presence, his next door neighbour, so to speak, or one of his ancient relatives, because there is a resemblance. The oblong icon like faces with some symbols around, jasmine blossoms, a dove, surround us – the guests – a little warningly: Take care, human, where you are heading, speaking not only to the people of Aphrodite’s island, the island of gods and myths and many religions, the island of lust and pain, the island of sea and mountains, but always smelling of jasmine.


Ismail introduced us to his friend the cellist Muharrem Cemoğlu and later to a Greek lady friend who joined in singing some Cypriot songs in Greek and Ismail and some of his friends repeated the same song in Turkish, and all of them sang together with words known to both in Cypriot, I’d say.

Yeşılırmak will no longer be a forgotten place in the far corner of Cyprus but via the new opening a new exchange will take place. It was a pleasure to meet you, Ismail Işilsoy, may you find a new approach in wood to recount us the tales of Cyprus.

The exhibition is open daily until June 25, the place is on the main road through the village with a sign outside the garden. 

Down by the sea
Down by the sea

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