Rabbit Island and Silver Still Life

Sunken Hellenistic causeway to Rabbit Island, Gumusluk Bay

Today, feeling quite a bit better, I decided to cycle down to the weekly market in Gumusluk town and purchase a few small silver things for tonight’s still life ensemble. After acquiring two small silver-coloured urns (not real silver …), I pedaled down to the beach and had a cup of tea shoreside. Later, having locked up my machine to a tree, I waded across to Rabbit Island.

Rabbit Island, Tavsin Adasi, separates the two beaches of Gumusluk, and is accessible by a partially sunken antique causeway built during the Hellenistic period. Once upon a time Rabbit Island was a place visited by the King of Halicarnassos, Mousolos, and his wife/sister Artemisia. He had the causeway built in order to feed the rabbits living on this small island and watch the famous sunset with his beloved. The island has lots of large stones lying around its shoreline that must have been part of the causeway and possibly other buildings, as well. From the top of the island, the sunken ruins are clearly visible between it and the shore, as well as those of the port buildings on the peninsula opposite. Also, the Greek Islands Kalymnos and  Kos are clearly visible not far off shore, along with several other, smaller islands.

I have read conflicting accounts of the status of the rabbits after which the tiny island is named. Most say that, although Rabbit Island was named after the rabbits which once inhabited the island, there is not a single one left on it. However, another couple of sites I read said that the rabbits are still on the island but are shy and hide in the weeds. These reports say that, if you sit in a shoreside restaurant and watch for a while you will see the rabbits on the island come out of hiding.  One account explains that a villager who sells rabbits in markets elsewhere raises them on the little island. I don’t know which version is correct but the only fauna I could see were ladybugs (known as “luck bugs’ here) – lots of them.

In Gumusluk town there are quite a few large white marble sculptures, many of them figurative and some nudes. As can be seen be my conversation with the Academy sculptor Eyip, this is quite extraordinary for a small Turkish village and gives some idea of how different Gumusluk is from the village norm. I had wondered about this and today, as I was cycling back to the ranch, I happened to notice the plaque on one of the sculptures – it expained that the work was the result of the First Annual Gumusluk International Sculpture Symposium in 2006. Since I did not notice plaques on the other works, I have no idea whether there were other symposia here on not – I will investigate further. I do know that the town also hosts an annual classical music festival in the summer that attracts musicians and music lovers from far and wide. And Gumusluk is known for its artistic and intellectual residents, many refugees from Istanbul and Ankara as well as parts farther afield. The local villagers seem to live quite happily with these foreign folk.

Later in the afternoon I set up my still life assemblage on the terrace outside my room where I took pictures of it in the afternoon sun and again at sunset this evening.

Joining the chorus of insanely barking dogs, crowing roosters, and braying donkey tonight are two bellowing bulls and one meowing cat. The valley rings with joyful cries …

I discovered the reason for last night’s little intervention into my studio space. Apparently, a large orange male tomcat, a stray, had found his way into the studio through an open door and happened to be sitting in my space. The two resident dogs, one of which has a deep hatred of cats, spotted him and went crazy barking, chasing and lunging at him. The cat must have been so scared he shit himself. Ilknur rescued the beast by chasing off her dogs and allowing him to make an escape from the studio.

See pictures here.