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Edinburgh World Heritage/International/27 students see success in summer school

27 students see success in summer school

Neil Ogilvy

3rd October 2018

Neil Ogilvy

On the 10th of September, 27 students from across Turkey arrived in Mardin to participate in a week-long summer camp focused on building their capacity in heritage restoration and interpretation.

Getting to know Mardin

Divided into three groups, the students spent the week improving their knowledge on stone restoration, craft and furniture restoration and heritage interpretation. The camp centred around practical and hands-on experiences with the students working in our Tamirevi (Restoration Lab) and Mardin Museum.

The Edinburgh World Heritage team arrived in Mardin for the latter half of the training camp and were able to spend a couple of days there. It was a chance for us to meet the students (some of whom will be attending our Leadership School in Edinburgh in December), get a feel for the city of Mardin and have face-to-face meetings with a host of project partners there.

Over the two days we visited the carpentry workshop where students were working on repairing and restoring a damaged wooden door from a nearby property, a coffee table and window frames. The students were also talked through the process of restoring water damaged books.

Students working on the restoration of a door

Şeyda Soybelli, a student studying City and Regional Planning at the University of Amasya said: “I first built my own consciousness in this field, and then my aim became to instil awareness on cultural heritage protection in my future colleagues and my social circle. What I have learnt showed me that even the smallest stone can have a great story behind it. Unlike other ordinary associations and organisations, KMKD is a warm family, an adventurous journey, a great story. I wish and hope that we will have more beautiful adventures and learnings together.”

We also got involved with the stone restoration group who were working in the project’s Tamirevi building. There, students were working on removing concrete pointing in the interior walls and carving their own designs onto pieces of limestone. Krzysztof and I were able to get hands on and attempt our own, far more basic, design. The stone restoration students were being taught by stonemasons who had attended our stonemason training in July and it was fantastic to see this knowledge being passed on.

Krzysztof Chuchra being shown the basics of limestone carving

Rotinda Çetin, who is studying the Preservation of Cultural Assets at the University of Batman said: “I was really impressed by the wealth of knowledge, sincerity and modesty of the mentors. In the architectural conservation workshop, I learned about types of deterioration in historic buildings assets and the factors that caused these, through theoretical and practical courses. I also learned that historic buildings should be conserved with appropriate materials and techniques, without damaging the existing fabric of the building. These gave me a different perspective in analysing a historical monument. As told in the ‘Destruction of Memory’ documentary we watched: ‘When we save the past, in fact, we save our future.’”

The third group of students focused on heritage interpretations and we had a fantastic discussion with them about what heritage means to them, why it is important to preserve it and their ideas for how the Tamirevi building should be used and what the final exhibition would look like.

Banu Pekol, KMKD’s Cultural Heritage and Capacity Building Manager said: “All our hard work preparing the camp paid off and a dream came true when the students brought the camp to life with their talents, creativity and energy. The speed and eagerness in which the students gained skills, knowledge and awareness was exceptional. Through their learnings, they now feel empowered and emboldened to take action in the field. These students are our future; we believe in their power, idealism, courage and enthusiasm as current and future actors in the preservation of cultural heritage.”

A key goal of the project is the exchange of knowledge between the UK and Turkey. In this light we were able to bring Ffion Blench, a Scottish-based plasterer, to Mardin to give a talk to the students about the different techniques and uses of plaster in restoration. Her talk was well received and provided a different perspective for the students to consider.

Ffion Blench giving her plaster demonstration in Mardin

“My recent trip to Mardin provided me with a fantastic opportunity to work with other people who share a passion for the preservation of historic buildings,” said Ffion. “It was a real pleasure sharing my knowledge of traditional plasterwork with the summer school students and inspiring to see the KORU project in progress with an aim to involve the wider community of Mardin. I felt lucky to be invited to share my experiences following the Traditional Building Festival and it was wonderful to hear from other professionals at the summer school about the work they are do.”

It was inspiring to see the level of enthusiasm from all the student participants involved and their contributions were very pertinent. Project Manager, Krzysztof Chuchra, said: “It was heart-warming to see our bright students working enthusiastically on their tasks, stepping out of their comfort zones, learning new skills, and engaging with difficult discussions about the meaning of heritage in the modern Turkish society. Whenever I come back to Mardin I see how this amazing project changes everyone involved in it. I am confident that together with our partners, KMKD, we have developed a fantastic model, which uses heritage as a positive force for capacity building”.

We will be returning to Mardin in October to assist with a second stonemason training, as well as the next stakeholder meeting for our Restoration Lab. This will finalise plans for work to be done on the building. Preparations are also well underway for our Leadership School taking place in Edinburgh in December. Keep an eye on the blog for more updates, or visit the KORU project page here.