Iz TV’s half-hour Hasankeyf documentary mostly featured Buket and me. I wrote on a napkin: Trici Venola’s participation sponsored by KALAMAR RESTAURANT in KUMKAPI, and held it up to the camera. It went into the subtitles. When that showed up at my patron Celal’s restaurant, the whole place exploded. The documentary aired frequently and for years. I could always tell because I’d get recognized in the street. Oh, how I wish we had won.
Drew these guys on site and then pulled a background from my photos for them. Ahmet Tunçay was just all over the place, I think I drew him more than anyone.
Was actually able to get a decent drawing on site from the castle. And this girl’s glorious full face was like a benediction wherever she went. The drawing in the center was done on the train, heading home.
How proud the villages must have been of their bridge when it was built, when the hills were green and the tree was alive with a leafy crown, dappling the rippling water. All across Turkey are these sad dried-up riverbeds, and in the distance, the hard bright blue of another dam.
The spoons were castanets. Wow.
She didn’t want me to draw her in disarray, so we arranged a later session. She showed up very dignified, and I drew her anyway. I wanted to celebrate her. We very much needed to laugh.
We thought we were pretty outrageous until one of the waiters said, “Oh, you should see the trains from Iran. The minute we cross the border, everybody just explodes, ripping off all that black and jumping up on the tables.”
A great friend and champion of Hasankeyf once told me that its charm was threefold: golden cliffs, antiquities, and reflective water, all in a perfect ecological system. This drawing took me a couple of days, I was so determined to capture every precious doomed detail. I combined several photos into one panorama and, as with the Castle Moon piece, learned a great deal. The sheer cliffs at back center are honeycombed with ancient staircases zigzagging up the cliffs. The biggest one is our Zigzag Staircase, just left of center. The tiny triangle left of its bottom is the vast entrance to Transpassers’ Cave. I hadn’t realized, back in 2007, that Hasankeyf continued up along the tops of the cliffs. The rich civic area at left is full of enchanting terraced houses overlooking the river, while people still lived in the caves above. Down to the left of the big dark area under that big arch is a collection of Romanesque ruins: looks to be a ruined domed structure. In the bottom left corner of the drawing, a white horse grazes at the water’s edge. Studying the photos, I could see evidence of collapses, rebuilding, and a great fall of debris at the bottom of the sheer cliff behind the Arabic Minaret. The rope-and-wood bridge from pier to pier across the Tigris washed away in a flood. Most of this is gone now, and what remains has been encased in cement, thanks to the Ilihu Dam. We lost our fight, but we tried. Hasankeyf That Was endures for me in art, and in the collective unconscious. And as everybody knows, once something is uploaded, it’s virtually eternal.