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A shepherd: the Aqueduct at Asagi Süphan -©2016 TriciVenola

He leaped up on the very edge of the ancient aqueduct and harangued the sheep, while all around him was glory. He did it just as I had gotten to that place in the drawing, as though it had been planned. We are in A Suphan, where project patron Celal Ögmen grew up, and he particularly asked me to draw the aqueduct. This took about an hour and a half to draw, sitting on the old stones while chickens strutted nearby. That’s Lake Van out there, and this aqueduct originally ran all the way down to it, about 4000 years ago.


A Suphan for Celal -©2016 TriciVenola

Project patron Celal Ögmen grew up in this village a few decades ago. He came to Istanbul as a teenager. He stood outside a prosperous fish restaurant in Kumkapi: Kalamar, saying in to the tourists in all their languages, “Come here and eat fish.” Now he owns the restaurant and the one next door, educates his daughter in New York, is a cornerstone of local industry and a patron of the arts. One brother is a judge, the other a barrister in New York. You can do anything with brains and moxie.


Father Mountain 24 April -©2016 TriciVenola

Celal wanted drawings of what he saw as a child when he climbed up this hill over the town:
In one direction, the town, and in the other, this second-tallest mountain in Turkey. Everyone in town calls it Father Mountain.


Clouds streaming up from the top of the mountain (Suphan Dagi) -©2016 TriciVenola

Here’s the other side of Süphan Dag, since Karaseyf is on the other side of the mountain from A Süphan. I was outside the school, drawing like mad as sheep and tractors paraded by and students and teachers giggled and watched over my shoulder. A happy time!


Armeni Kilisesi— 22 April 2016
In the centre of an immense green haven-improbable pink bushes— absolute peace… shepherds, Kongal dogs, mooing cows, drifts of conversation from the guides away over the grass. These are Armenian churches -©2016 TriciVenola

One of the happiest drawing experiences ever. Abdullah and his pal wandered away and left me blissed out and drawing for a couple of hours. They said that yes, the area to the left and behind the ruined church at centre is another settlement. The dark hill at left was covered with those salmon-pink bushes. At right, reflected sunlight arced up from a hamlet hidden behind the hill.


A Süphan , Adilcevaz, Van.
These little girls are out in their front yard, and so is this Armenian tombstone. -©2016 TriciVenola

“For centuries we lived in peace, us and the Kurds and the Armenians, and then they f- cked it up.” — a Turkish acquaintance in Van. The horrific fate of Turkey’s Armenian population is well known. As the Ottoman empire broke up, they were massacred. Almost exactly 100 years before I drew this, all the Armenians were either killed, marched away, or forced into hiding by Ottoman soldiers. They left artifacts all over Van province, mute testimony to a vanished culture. Some survived by being absorbed into Kurdish or Turkish families. I met many people who said, “Oh my grandmother was Armenian…” etc. Innocents like these little Kurdish girls were simply born into the wake of blood, standing in their own front yard over an exquisitely carved tombstone that was obviously half-buried, probably under their cinderblock house in the sheep pasture.


Squint at this hill and the scattered rocks and bushes become sea-foam, drenched survivors creeping out of the caves, staring at the receding waters. Down through the valleys, Lake Van stretches shimmering to the white mountains, floating in their mist across the border in Iran. As I drew, Abdullah brought me this fossilised seashell. The Flood.-©2016 TriciVenola

Can’t you just see it? I still have the shell. It’s got a bit of actual shell attached, but most of it is solid stone. This view was to my left as I drew the ruined Armenian church on the mountain.

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