Coffee Cup Conversations
A successful, family run, business in North Cyprus brings almost everyone together: mother, father, son and daughter; for many it makes sense to “keep it in the family”. With arts and crafts an important part of our island culture, again it’s a good business move to work in this field. With over twenty years of experience in his line of work, Hasan Anılır is a man who knows what his country needs and is providing it.
On the 5th of November the Anılır Art Gallery opened in Hamitköy, a village located just outside the capital Lefkoşa. The enterprise, spearheaded by Hasan, also includes his son Ahmet Anılır. Whilst chatting with this father and son duo I learnt that although they don’t class themselves as artists as such, what they do is, in itself, a form of art.
Hasan and I first met many years ago when he opened a photograph exhibition at the then newly opened Değirmenlik Art & Culture Centre. It was a collection of old Cyprus pictures taken by famous Armenian photographer Haigaz Mangoian. Hasan had painstakingly reproduced the photos from the original negatives. Catching up with him recently, his love for Cypriot life and culture has not diminished. Hasan tells me “The new Art Gallery will be a place to showcase local arts and crafts and will be a centre for artists to display their work.” Quite rightly Hasan points out that there aren’t many places in North Cyprus where artists can hold an exhibition.
Hasan’s son Ahmet, an archaeologist by trade, is happy to be part of the family business. Hasan is keen to share Cypriot art and culture with the younger generation and Ahmet is his tool to do this. Both father and son work in a studio where they create very innovative pieces of art. They use local material to recreate traditional Cypriot life. For example they have a model of a clay oven with a girl dressed in an old-style village dress, using a wooden stick to place the dough for the bread into the oven to bake. Another scene that is brought to life is an old outside water tap with buckets near by waiting to be filled with pure spring water – again with dolls dressed in appropriate gear. Hasan proudly tells me that it is his wife who hand makes the dresses for the dolls.
One of the most significant facts about Anılır Art Gallery is that they have a unique selection of frames that is unrivalled on the island. These frames are used in the silk and lacework that they also produce and sell at their shop. Hasan buys the silkworm cocoons from local producers and give them to be worked by the villagers he employs to make these pieces of art. Supporting local individuals or businesses is something that Hasan is very adamant about. Ahmet often helps in designing the patterns that the silk and lace will eventually be stitched into, and he also designs the frames that will be used in decorating and hanging these priceless crafts. Because they use all local products and buy in bulk their prices are very reasonable and affordable to most.
For those that have visited the Büyük Han (Great Inn) in the old quarters of our capital, you may have come across the Anılır souvenir shop on the upper floor. With a wide selection of art and crafts – from postcards to key rings – there is always something for the tourist to take home as a memento of their time in Cyprus. If you are in the area pop in, and if you want a location for an exhibition then definitely go to the gallery. To find out more and to contact the Anılır family go to their webpage www.anilirartgallery.com.