Sunday, 5 July 2009

Northern Cyprus 2002

This post has been bubbling under for a while. These images were taken in Northern Cyprus, I think during the summer of 2002. It was the last time I was there both Emin and I vowed that I would never return, for a range of reasons.
Not least from my part that I was so tired of holidaying in the same place over and over again. I wanted to try new places, and I have.
My first time in Northern Cyprus was just after I had met Emin, He spun such an amazing tale about his childhood holidays, his evacuation during the war of 1973 by the British Army. I was enthralled and enraptured.
The reality of this place was soooo different. The house is a hideous concrete box this image below is of the kitchen. that first day was such a shock, I had never seen so much formica and as you can see, that is who buys those utterly vile tiles. I promise you the bathroom is grim too.

You also need to remember the country is not recognised, by the international community so the only trade comes via Turkey, everything has to be reused and recycled. If we use the washing machine we collect the water to flush the toilet, all plastic has to be washed and reused. There is refuse collection apart from central location in the city. During my first year we had to pasturised the milk, the water arrived every other evening which is piped into a tank on each property. Water is heated via pipes on the roof, electricity was sporadic. No supermarkets, poor roads. Most people are aware of Cuba but Cyprus was in a much worse state physically and economically. Now it has all changed. Saudi Arabia has paid for new roads. A new hospital is being built, they have a number of supermarkets, and they now have their first ambulance!

You can, as one of his cousin's did furnish your house beautifully, however as you see ,the house is at best spartan. When they were young the girls were so good, they shared a bed when temperatures would stay in there 20's during the night. They had no luxuries only a small fan to cool them, yet they kept themselves occupied. We would go to the beach about 3ish when it cooled.

And what a beach, Bafra. We found it via some friends of his who were staying nearby. It is hidden down very pot holed road, past some semi derelict villages. Only a few locals know or knew of its location. Now the beach has been carved up by conglomerates into grotesque hotels and casinos. It is heartbreaking when it was such a beautiful sheltered place, perfect for families, with two local beach cafes. Some families even lived here during the summer, it was so idyllic. Now locals are not even allowed in the hotels.

His cousins house, very rural, my girls have even threaded tobacco leaves here. Not all houses are like this, another cousin lives in a small palace up the road. He made million servicing black cabs.
Therein lies what has changed here. Thousands fled during the war settled in London and else where and made there fortune doing all the jobs the English hate. cafes, dry cleaners, fish and chip shops. All this money has been plowed back into their homeland, sadly many are in too ill health to return, like his mother and father who both died in England. But thousands are returning. Amazingly I will too, probably this Christmas. I have a project i want to complete whilst his village remains untainted by tourism.
These photographs were taken on a second hand twin lens reflex camera I have. The negatives have aged badly and so I have had to tweak them a lot on Photoshop. I have kind of gone for a retro feel, in keeping with the place. There are not many. Leyla was still a toddler and barely walking, so I had my hands full with her as well as the other two angels. The rest of the set are on Flickr

His cousin preparing dinner.
In the background are her sons fatigues. Every man has to complete two years national service. You have to pay your way out or do it even if you carry a British passport. Emin is allowed to stay for just 90 days a year before they make him do it even when he is 50 plus!
I have hundred more stories to tell. The size of the cockroaches... The state of his cousins fridge, their obsession with plastic flowers and bad taste decor. next time perhaps, the tennis is on and I am willing Federer to win.


materfamilias said...

I've just spent the happiest half hour or so browsing through your photos on Flickr -- beautiful!
You absolutely have to go back to Cyprus to do more of this series -- they're wonderful. Evocative, almost timeless, with a simple daily materiality to ground them. The children are beautiful without being sentimental, ditto for the other subjects (older woman, clothes drying) -- again, I ask, when's the exhibit, my dear?! (you know, in your spare time -- hah!)

indigo16 said...

I am so glad you saw the ones of the girls, as I just panicked and removed them. Don't ask me why, but I still feel really strange putting them 'out there' Stupid I Know.
I do finally feel I have found my voice, even though these are very old images I now see their sense of place and value.
I also now finally realise this is the journey I want to explore. He has not booked the tickets yet, but I am very keen to document this stunning place before capitalism takes hold.
Thank you for the praise.