My speech on the occasion of the event on November 20, 2017 at the Near East University as guest speaker...
I will get the speech given by Mustafa Hastürk in English and will later make my comments.
greetings and thanks to the host of this morning’s event, a good morning to the
a momentum of gratitude and respect for
Hakan Çakmak, a friend to many of us, whose death has surprised us, shaken us
and made us aware, that we all have only a borrowed time, I have been invited
to contribute to this event and bring my view to the theme ‘Archiving of the
Arts’. A theme which Hakan held very close to his heart, a heart which was
always open for all the arts for as long as I have known him. A heart which
finally failed him. We first met on the occasion of my very first exhibition in
Cyprus, in Bellapais, in 2005, when he interviewed me for BRT and so he did on
all my exhibitions till the last one in Famagusta in April 2017, when I told
him that he would not look well and he should take things easier. Very shortly
after this event he left us.
13 years ago I started writing about our local art scene for the English press
in North Cyprus, Cyprus Times, Cyprus Today, Cyprus Observer, Zoom Magazine,
Pegasus Onboard, and so on and for my own website, I always found Hakan
standing next to me, be it at a concert or an art event. We exchanged news and
shook hands. He came to my house for TV and photo interviews, also with respect
to our Thursday Art Group. He came for
my book launches on ‘Art and Creativity in North Cyprus’ and I have often been
told that BRT followed and took over my write-ups on the arts. He loved his job, he said, he would not
accept a job behind the desk, he wanted to be out on the front and witness and
record himself the on-goings in the art scene; he needed the close touch, and
he did that to his very end; besides recording the running events he finally
concentrated on TV interviews with the established artists of Cyprus, just as I
have done for many years.
cannot be with us bodily this morning to listen to what we have to say on the
archiving of the arts but his spirit is with us and I know that he is a role
model for his colleagues who wish that the work he has done will be continued. I
am sure, that he would have agreed with me in what I have to say now on the
meaning and importance of archiving the arts.
thousand years ago, in the mountains behind this building, a hunter came home
one day to the cave he and his family were living in and he took a stone and
scratched his day’s experience onto the wall and his wife who did pottery from
the clay she had collected from the river beds, took this motive to decorate
her pots with. Is this art? Yes, it is. Art is life, is society’s life which
has been recorded since man is able to interpret his doings and experiences. This
is a first form of creating and archiving art.
go a step further… For some years now in our present time, we have some art
historians and artists – thanks to all gods we have them - whose urgent issue
of concern it is to create replicas of the long lost, stolen or sold past of
Cyprus, artifacts of the Bronze Ages. This is archiving, one kind of archiving.
I followed their activities, took photos, talked to all involved, a further step
of archiving. I also talked to one Cypriot man who in his young years and that
is many decades ago, who on his walks through the mountains found Bronze Age
artifacts and sold them; he was young and he needed money…until he was caught
and fined. However, his passion for the old culture haunted him and he decided
to do them himself; he bought books, taught himself to work with clay and to
fire these copies in the open fire of his ‘Kebab firin’ he used for his
restaurant …. And over the years he became successful and obtained the
authorization by the government to copy the old pieces and sell them.
Wonderful, I admire the passion he followed and his family members took up the
passion till today. This is collecting,
creating and archiving of the past.
the past, archiving the present…. Never in the past have we had such a big
storage space as today with internet, radio, television, films and photography;
what did we have before?
us go back to another level of the past… In the Old and Middle Ages, the war
lords ordered artists to accompany the armies they sent out to conquer new land
or defend their borders. Without them we would know nothing, nothing of the
events, nothing of the armory and armor bearers, their uniforms and habits that
went along with them. So did the explorers of new continents and the paintings
and sketches by the artists influenced the fashion, the trade in general and
the knowledge about other races back home; it improved science and knowledge in
many fields like astronomy, mathematics and medicine: it is all recorded.
paintings we know the kind of plants that grew then and what architecture was
like, fashion, habits and so many other aspects.
within the wide field of the arts we also
have literature, theatre and all creative activities that tell us in a
different way what is important to know. Since the Old Ages until not so long
ago, the news were brought to the courts of kings and knights by migrating
artists, musicians, theatre groups and the artifacts and the knowledge were
kept in their treasury.
we have all the knowledge stored in a space that can be entered via the
computer but is somehow invisible to us, it is sky-space, it is electronic
data. The hardware of our gained knowledge, knowledge carried together by
experts, artists in all fields, is stored in our National Archive, every
written word is stored there, and its archivists get new material on a daily
basis from people who have donated their treasures, by will or any other
we still have no museum in our part of the island, a museum for the visual
arts; all disciplines of the arts are
fighting to have their past not only recorded but to have a home for them, so that
the young people of today and tomorrow can learn from it, from the efforts
those archivists did and still do, the painters, poets, writers, journalists,
photographers, caricaturists, theatre people and so on who in their own way
record and comment on signs and occurrences in our modern times. So far, the
collections of visual arts are kept in the cellars and corridors of the
parliament and interested students, or even tourists, cannot learn about it, about
the treasury of art and culture of the island.
my husband and I first came here with our sailing boat in 1999 I tried to find
the local art scene and I found no mention in the local English newspapers, so
I made some research myself and on my road I encountered artists and was shown
ahead by them. I started to write about the art events because I could not
believe that it was not brought to the attention of the foreign residents. Being
a traveler for all my life, one of the first institutions to visit for me was
an art museum and local galleries which alas was hard to find here.
efforts were soon rewarded because the foreign community really wanted to know
about it and they received my reports and interviews with great curiosity. With great excitement I met the young Art
Association EMAA and its counterpart EKATE which in those years worked closely
together, I accompanied their activities, following the opening of the doors
between the two parts of the island, such as ART AWARE and OPEN STUDIOS and
many other bi-communal activities. A special mention may be the art works including
poetry that were installed in the rooms where one round of many peace talks
were taking place to admonish and influence the members in a positive but
urgent way. It is all recorded. Who would still know about the hurt feelings,
the first meetings, the curiosity and many questions about the other?
still remember the evening when members of EMAA and I met at Nilgün Güney’s
Studio Café, in order to discuss the publication of my interviews with artists,
my reviews and reports on such art events as mentioned above. EMAA undertook to
get the necessary support with the Ministry of Education and Culture and it was
its Cultural Comité that granted it. I will never forget it. Mustafa Hastürk
was the Director of the Cultural Department then; it was also him who initiated
the establishment of the Cultural Magazine DEFNE to record all art events, which
still exists today with great success.
I then undertook the hard work to collate the different articles into a
book, the English version was edited by Léonie Brittain, the text was translated
into Turkish by Nazif Bozatlı, who himself is a great archivist and collector,
and the painstaking work of cross editing was done by Nilay Derviş, the cover was
based on Nilgün Güney’s suggestions. A valuable cooperation I am still most
was only a logical next step from there to continue the interviews with the
other fields of the arts, literature and theatre – plus an amendment on the
visual arts section including caricature because quite a crowd of young artists
were returning from their studies at universities and conservatoires - and
to publish them in a second volume which was also supported by the Government,
the Ministry of Tourism, Environment, Culture, Education and Sports, (five so
very important matters under one roof)…. A book which was published in 2015 and
which I presented to the public together with an exhibition of the artists
included, in the National Archive in Girne, the very proper place to do that.
two volumes took me ten years altogether, ten years of meeting the most
important and established people in the art and culture scene. I must add here,
that I could not include in these two volumes the very important section of
music, I have interviewed many of the outstanding musicians and singers and
have published it in newspapers and my website but I have not come any further.
They would really deserve it to give a complete picture of the arts and culture
of the island.
years of encounters with these creative people in their own environment, with
their work and their philosophy, their past and their worries, was a most
valuable experience and I am deeply indebted to them to have had their trust to
give me their life story because without this knowledge we cannot understand
their art. I have encountered passion, despair along their road of learning and
arriving. I have learnt the intimate history of one people, of the Cypriots of
the Northern part of the island.
is made by people for people, people with all their characteristics, their
strength and weakness, by people who have learnt to use all their senses, who
have learnt to observe and who have learnt to listen, people who give all their
heart and passion to a cause, who are open and don’t put their ego first,
people who know that the past is the basis for the future, that everything is
connected, that we all are just links in the big chain of nature.
I know, was understood by Hakan Çakmak who knew so well how to read the arts
and the artists. He will not be forgotten as one of the visual archivists of
the arts. He would be proud to know that a new team is carrying on the work he
has started; we have already welcomed the new team Kadri Esemen - Sevim Kultaş and Özlem Özkaram.
I have handed over my archive of all catalogues, invitation cards, newspaper
copies of my articles and all my E-data to the National Archive and the Cyprus
Studies Centre respectively, as I felt the necessity to have the collection
conserved for the use of others. With much regret I want to bring to your
memory that many artists interviewed by me have already left the garden of
life, starting with Ali Atakan, Ali Nazmi Borova, Ayhan Menteş, Rüya Reşat, Ali
Nesim, Servet Dedeçay, Fikret Demirağ, Filiz Naldöven, Niki Marangou, and only
very recently Harid Fedai. Hakan Çakmak will be in good company. I am deeply
grateful to have met them. Archiving the arts meant for me to archive the life
stories of the artists because they did not only give us their talent and their
work but their passion for their country.
P.O.Box 761, Girne