June 24

Another handful of days..

Tuesday (?), Mary- Ellen and I hiked Love Valley.. we took a bus to Uchisar and, after a little bit of confusion, finally found the trail head. The trail starts up high on the edge of the canyon, then drops down to the ravine and follows the stream through some amazing rock formations with eroded strata. At the end of the trail, the grand finale, are these series of phallic rock towers that are quite beautiful and strange.

We caught a bus to Goreme to have a delicious lunch and do a little retail therapy at the tourist shops. I fell in love with this large carpet shop that was maze like and so very visually overwhelming.. patterns and colors everywhere in room after room. Next week I will make sure to go back there to take more photographs.. some of the interior rooms (which I didn’t take photos of) are covered in layers of carpets on the walls, floor and ceiling. I ended up buying another gods eye, this one very different than the others.. a vertical piece made out of wrapped silk with tassles at the end, this one supposedly a piece from a womans dowry… I love it.

On Wednesday Paul took me to photograph a few places here in the village of Ibrahimpasa that utilize caves in different ways. First we went to the neighbors house, who is in the middle of renovating a cave house. He is a Canadian who married a Turkish woman and is quite a skilled wood worker. Its interesting to see how well modern, clean elements (such as the glass bathroom doors and glass panoramic wall/window) mix with the carved cave walls, I like the contrast.

We then went to the new boutique hotel down the road, Babayan Evi, as it is called, which is actually very nice and well done. It seems to be the first of its kind here in the village, although Paul seems to think that it is only a matter of time until this village will go through a major shift into a more tourist based climate.

Down the road a bit we visited another house that is being renovated, this house rather large and complex. This house includes a rather strange feature.. behind a locked gate and door there is a spiral staircase, cut out of the stone, that descends deep into the earth.. something around 80 stairs! The foreman of the construction site graciously took us down the narrow stairs where it is easy to loose your footing due to the loose rock, so you descend slowly while holding onto the walls (which also crumble under your touch) for support. It is a very strange experience to descend down, down, down into the earth through this  stairwell.. and at the end.. nothing! The stairs just stop and there is a little area around 3 feet square. Paul thinks that this was once a private well that was filled with water. I was happy to turn around and head back up the stairs (it is true that it is much easier going up) to reach fresh air and sunlight.

After a little lunch and rest, Paul took me to meet Mehmet Ali.. who owns an antique shop down the street, to see another use of some of the caves in the village. The back rooms of his shop are caves, that were once used as food storage and a grape press. Those of you that know me, know that I am a devout lover of antique shops, junk stores, thrift shops, architectural salvage, garage sales and junk piles. Not only are these places where I get most of my art materials from, they are also a great reflection on how objects are used in a culture, and the many faceted history that lay behind such objects. Mehmet Alis shop is an interesting mix of small objects such as doornobs and architectural details, as well as large carved wooden doors and old farm equipment. Man, if this shop were in Los Angeles.. I would love to have some of the carved wooden architectural parts to make sculpture out of.  There were also some paintings hung high up on the stairs that Mehmet Ali had painted that I enjoyed.. two that were of replicas of doctors office illustrations showing skin diseases and one of a pattern that he reproduced from a wall of a cave ( i think?) in the village. There was one room in particular that struck me visually that houses many intricately carved and decorated wooden chests. Apparently, these chests housed the collection of fine linens and handicrafts that women would make or be given, that served as her dowry chest. I bet those chests housed some amazing objects that at one point were pretty important to someone.. to see all of these chests piled up in a cave room unused was kind of sad in a way, or more nostalgically poetic really. I took a few panoramic photos of this room and of his shop that I am really excited about-

Yesterday, the whole gaggle of us artists from the Cultural House, Mary-Ellen, Dorian, Kristina (these two are new arrivals) and I went out for the day with Mehmet. First, we headed to Avanos to see the Hair Museum in a cave, apparently in the Guiness Book of World Records, which was started in 1979 by potter, Galip Korukcu, with over 16,000 hair examples given by women from around the world. And, of course (!), I donated a little bit of my locks to be included in the collection. The caves are huge, so much hair.. its pretty impressive and creepy at the same time… especially the hair hanging from the ceiling.

From the Hair Museum we went to visit the land art of Andrew Rogers, on a mountianside near Avanos. There are two types of works on the site.. the first is a series of vertical stone pillars, that are on top of the mountain and visible around the region. On the pillars are etched words like Kindness and Beauty in both English, Rogers native tongue I assume since he is Australian, and Turkish. The second type of work are these large images made out of short stone walls that, when seen from a distance, form images of a horse, a grinding stone and a goddess form, among others. These pieces I feel are best photographed from the air to really see them well so the last two photos here I stole off of the internet.. hopefully it will better show the scale.




About Lives of Cappadocia Project

Aili Schmeltz is a contemporary visual artist living and working in Los Angeles, CA.
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