Heidi Trautmann

661 - Creative people living in our midst - Anne Hughes – Architect and painter

born in 1927 and in North Cyprus since 1985


By Heidi Trautmann


Anne Hughes is going to leave us, the community of friends, artists, literature and art lovers, and us the Thursday Art Group; she will leave North Cyprus, the island she loved and I know she does so with many regrets. She will move close to where her daughter lives. She has sold her beautiful Eagle’s Nest in Karmi to a nice couple but they are not able to take over the two companions of Anne, Bill and Ben, six and nine years old, ginger the one and white and ginger the other, two lovely cats, and there is no way to take them with her. So I offered to describe the situation to my friends and readers, perhaps there is someone, who would be willing to give them a new home. Please call Anne within the coming week: mobile 0533 842 6943 and  0392 8222583.

Also, Anne will put her paintings, drawings and sketches up for sale, as from Wednesday 25 June at the Levant Restaurant in Karmi, opening at 18:00 hrs. The pictures will be left with the restaurant owners, so you will be able to see and buy what is left after the opening evening. Anne is known as the Karmi painter.  Levant Restaurant: Tel. 0392 822 2559.


Back in 2008 I sat down with Anne in her house and we talked about her life for my book ‘Art and Creativity in North Cyprus’.  I would like to publish it again on my website and in Cyprus Observer in order to make my proper farewell to her, thank her for her friendship and to show my readers Anne Hughes’ life and work. We have been working together from 2001 to today, first at the Edremit church, and from 2006 to today in Yesiltepe.  Here is my interview:


Appreciation of structure

Large hands, instruments of language, mobile but not restless, the long fingers wear beautifully designed heavy silver rings, made for her, for Anne Hughes. She is most conscious of her hands as she is of herself, a tall woman, her movements very precise but not slow, just aware, as is her language. Controlled in every way but not without passion; on the contrary, but this is not obvious.

I have often watched her at our studios where we have met regularly for the last seven years, twice a week. She comes into the room with her canvas under her arm and the painting kit, and the air moves aside as she smilingly says sotto voce, “Good morning.” She sets up her easel and systematically prepares for the morning ahead, obviously enjoying every second of it.


Anne’s parents married in England in 1919, their comfortable teenage lives having been totally disrupted by the First World War.  Life was very tough for them between the wars and her mother bitterly regretted her own childish rejection of her governess’s efforts to educate her, which left her with no career prospects. Anne’s parents were determined that she should never be in that position herself, and sent her to the best schools they could find. Anne grew up in Kensington in London, an only child cared for by her mother. Her bedroom was her kingdom where she kept her books and toys, and spent hours playing alone, making things, building, drawing and painting. By the time she was 12, she knew she wanted to be an architect.  She met Pat, her future husband, when she started training in 1945.  They qualified in 1950 and married in 1953.  Anne stayed at home until their younger child started school when she began to work part-time, then gradually full-time. Architecture and the family absorbed her creative interests.  In 1985, Pat came to work in Cyprus. They liked life here so much that they decided to make it their permanent home.

Anne and Pat had found a nice comfortable house in Karaman where they still live today.  It is built in the hills below the church square and they have the most beautiful view of the Kyrenia mountain range and Kyrenia itself above the blue waters of the Mediterranean. The area around Karaman has fascinated Anne ever since they have started living there. “The colours in the hills have made me paint the same scenery over and over again, and each time it came out different with the change of the seasons. And – with my passion for architecture – I found an outlet for it with all the white cubes of houses set between the various greens creeping up the hills towards the rocks of the mountain tops. The changing light every moment of the day gives me new inspiration, especially when the colours of shadows change in the folds from deep green to purple and dark blue.”

I know what Anne is talking about, since we have spent a morning on her terrace painting just that:  the same rock changing from pink to clear blue and later to purple within two hours.

“We love living here.  You get the feeling that nothing really changes, although here and there houses are added, but the core of the village remains the same.”  A lovely wild garden surrounds the house, a wild vine grows over the various terraces and balconies to give shade, and there are tomatoes, gourds and herbs along the steps down to the garden.  An eagle's nest where you can sit, away from the bustle of the world.  Did she not once have an art gallery – the Archway Gallery – together with other villagers, I ask.

“Oh yes, we started it with great enthusiasm, but it never really worked.  It was simply too far away. I soon gave it up, but the others continued and had later some successful exhibitions.”

Anne’s  interests took another direction soon after they had settled in Karaman. She  found herself with time on her hands and started to paint and draw seriously. First pastel portraits of the traditional clay pots then experiments with oils. A life drawing group formed but venues were always a problem. When Muriel Clutten started a group of mixed ability at her studio in Kayalar things began to improve enormously for Anne. “I discovered acrylics and the fascinating difficulties of watercolours, and when Deirdre Kirk and Roger Anderson came here from South Cyprus and opened up the Levantine Art College in Edremit, we all went as a group and worked there. We had such fun during those years, exchanging experiences and doing life drawing sessions. It is so important to have somebody who speaks the same language. Life drawing for me is like a work out at the gym, intended to improve my drawing, because drawing is so vital to art.”

Anne has had several solo exhibitions and has participated in some group exhibitions. Her pictures sell well because they touch something in people. It is not only her landscapes which tell of her love for structure but also her still lives, such as when she makes studies of fruit as graphic compositions, or pieces of washing hung on a line, or huge round soft flower heads set against squares. Anne works mainly with acrylic and pastels, often with ink and wash and water colour, which suits her as she often takes her painting kit along with her to catch another beautiful scene. When she travels with her library group, she always has her sketch book with her to later remind her of a special occasion. She keeps these small books with entries of place, date and occasion. When did she get involved in the Kyrenia library?

“It was my husband Pat who got involved first as chairman, and he worked hard for it when he took over because it was not much of a library. The library as such has existed since 1972.  It all started with a big box of books donated and sent by somebody in Scotland. They had hired the premises behind the court which used to be a bicycle shed, and since then new rooms have been added. Today we have 15,000 books and 300 members.” Anne took over as chairman in 1996 when her husband Pat became seriously ill and has been taking care of it since then. “I always loved books and libraries fascinated me and – ” here she laughs “ – I did my thesis on the design of a library.”  There are really very good books on those shelves, books from the beginning of last century, interesting travel books, authors long forgotten,  as well as very many new books, all of which have been donated. What was the reason for starting the Kyrenia travel group?

“You know, Pat and I loved to travel in Turkey, especially in where the old culture of the Selçuks is still evident.  Being an architect, Pat found it very interesting. And finally, when we talked to our friends about our experiences, we found that we wanted to share them and so we started these culture trips for up to a maximum of 35 people. And we have done 15 trips so far.”

Anne cares a lot for her community and she also draws a lot from it, not only fun and social activities but also security. “I need to be doing something for my community; it makes life pleasant and worthwhile.  Although I am not a churchgoer, I care about our church. When the church was to be renovated, I helped with the design and the planning of the extension buildings, and we now have a very pleasant and important meeting place for the community members. I even designed a panel to mark the Millennium, a textile collage, executed by many members who contributed parts to it. “Fishes with attitude, bring me fishes with an attitude, I said to them.” It is a big panel of several square metres, I have seen it hung up in the church, when Anne had her exhibition in the hall below.

Appreciation of structure, is it not the confirmation of nature’s law and order?  Like the growth of a tree, the logical beauty of a flower or the law of day and night, of light and shadow, of life and death and the comforting thought that everything will be reborn?

It is! And every day Anne sits out there in her eagle’s nest and thinks that the real world is so endlessly beautiful and interesting, that she has never even tried to make abstract pictures. There is nothing to abstract from it.

(The interview was done in June 2008)





Bill and Ben
Bill and Ben

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