Visiting Almut

These ruined cave houses are so amazing! I can imagine the entire village as one huge installation or film set. If I had untold millions, I would make a Peter Greenaway-esque film here. However, since I don’t, I will just have to make do with Flip video … Opening one of the many closed doors in abandoned houses here, I entered a space that I’d not seen before and used it as a set for my little Four Element paintings. Later on I will erect a larger found object piece in there – it has just the right combination of decrepitude and general decayed splendour.

After a morning playing around with the elements in various configurations, much to the joy of Willemijn and Paul’s two cats who walked through sniffing various things, we were off to Uchisar to visit Willemijn’s friend Almut, a German artist who has lived in Turkey for 20 years. She has the most fantastic place – labyrinthine, with many, many small rooms full of colourful paintings, objects, fabric and furniture, mostly painted by Almut herself. (The décor reminds me quite a bit of the Bloomsbury group’s house in England). I especially loved the Konak room upstairs off the main terrace. This room was built by the original owner of the house, a man from Istanbul, as a place to relax and entertain friends when he came to Uchisar for holidays. Here are paintings and sculpture by one of Almut’s husbands as well as her own paintings. She has an incredible view of the valley from her terrace and I could see all the old stone houses being restored, mostly for wealthy French tourists.

Almut prepared tea for us in her old pewter pot while we chatted about art and theatre projects and enjoyed looking at two books published by her mother Hildegard Wegner, a photographer and doll-maker, now 83 – these were really stunning. While we were sipping our tea and discussing the idea of gruesome beauty, Almut told us a story about a friend of hers, a Turkish man who, after being berated by his wife for being drunk again, put what he thought was an unloaded gun to his head and, saying with great and drunken bravado, “If you don’t love me anymore, I will kill myself”, pulled the trigger and blew off half his brain. He was taken to the morgue and put on the refrigerated slab. His grieving relatives came to pay their respects and one, weeping and placing his head upon the man’s chest, heard a heartbeat – the guy was still alive. He was taken out of the morque fridge and transferred to a hospital room where he died four days later …

Later, Willemjin and I headed to the hamam in Goreme and had a scrub and soak while Layla kept the nosy Turkish men at bay. Paul rode to Goreme on one of the mountain bikes and joined us at the Orient for a flaming steak dinner while we listened to Leonard Cohen and Van Morrison and chatted with the very pleasant owner, a man who reminded me greatly of Elvis Presley with a perm.

See pictures here.

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