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Edinburgh World Heritage/International/Welcoming our Turkish colleagues to haary Edinburgh

Welcoming our Turkish colleagues to haary Edinburgh

Neil Ogilvy

13th September 2018

Neil Ogilvy

I’d like to start by introducing myself. My name is Neil and I’ve joined Edinburgh World Heritage as International Project Officer working primarily on the KORU project in Turkey. I come to EWH having worked for the last few years for the Edinburgh and Lothians Regional Equality Council where I ran their ‘Routes to Roots: Adopting Scotland as a Homeland’ project. This explored the shared heritage of diverse communities in Edinburgh and the Lothians and the experience of people from around the world of making Scotland their home. Having studied History and International Relations at university and grown up in a variety of cultures in Africa and Asia, the KORU project felt like a fantastic fit.

Since our last update, the project has delivered training for eight stonemasons in Mardin, who all gave positive feedback overall. In particular they commented that the training had increased their confidence in their craft, they had improved their knowledge on the appropriate materials used for different purposes as well as their awareness of health and safety issues. They found the practical elements, especially the visit to the quarry, particularly useful.

Between the 13th and 15th of August we hosted our Turkish colleagues from the Kültürel Mirası Koruma Derneği (Association for the Protection of Cultural Heritage) (KMKD), our project partners. The trip was planned so that they could meet with our staff here in Edinburgh, learn more about the work that EWH do and exchange knowledge and experiences between the two organisations. With this in mind, a packed schedule of meetings, trips to various sites in Edinburgh and events at the Traditional Building Festival (held at EWH’s offices) took place over three days.

We started the week discussing the plans for the project’s Buildings at Risk Register with EWH grants assistant Waseem Albahri. We looked into registers that exist in the UK as well as EWH’s own Buildings of Concern register to discuss the takeaways from this and what was applicable to Mardin’s circumstances. This was followed by a visit to the City Observatory on Calton Hill, a restoration project that EWH is helping to fund. This was to show KMKD a current EWH project in the city and also give them a view of the city that highlights the contrast between the Old and New Towns of Edinburgh. Of course, this being Edinburgh, the haar was in and for the majority of our time on the hill we couldn’t even see the top of the Nelson Monument, never mind the city. Nevertheless, we were given a fantastic tour of the site by Lori Anderson.

Visiting the City Observatory on Calton Hill

Spirits unperturbed we headed down the hill to Howies, another of EWH’s grant projects, for lunch, before heading back to the office for an afternoon discussing communication with a focus on audience development, promotion, social media and advocacy work with EWH’s comms team Nick Hotham and Stuart Buchanan. That evening saw us sampling the atmosphere of the festival at Holyrood 9A and Bristo Square.

The next day, we continued our discussion on communication by looking at learning and engagement with EWH’s Mary Stones. We looked at the various learning elements of the KORU project and looked at EWH’s learning and engagement strategy for inspiration. This was followed by a visit to the #OurWorldHeritage exhibition at the Tron Kirk. We then moved up the High Street to have a quick look at Riddles Court, the venue for our Edinburgh Leadership School in December. After lunch the KMKD team attended a blacksmith talk at the Traditional Building Festival. This was followed by a travel security briefing by Adam Wilkinson.

Left: Mary Stones talking about the #OurWorldHeritage exhibition outside the Tron Kirk. Right: stonemason training back in Mardin

On Wednesday, the final day of the trip, we met with Yann Grandgirard to discuss energy efficiency and a visit to the Basil Spence redevelopment project on the Royal Mile. Energy efficiency is a key element of the KORU project’s restoration lab in Mardin. Another visit to the Traditional Building Festival, this time for a decorative plaster demonstration, was followed by a steering group meeting to wrap up the trip and discuss ongoing actions in the project.

A captivated audience at the Traditional Building Festival

Commenting on the experience of the trip, Banu Pekol said: “Our recent meeting proved once again that KMKD and EWH work together toward a common vision of heritage preservation, and this makes our collaboration very special. This teamwork and collective skillset is the main strength of the project for all involved. We challenge and also inspire each other, working and moving forward together in this project. We all aim to make a project that serves as an exemplar for the region, and this common goal is very fundamental to our collaboration, making our work very rewarding.”

This month sees a week-long summer school in Mardin for 24 young people to learn about heritage interpretation, furniture restoration and stone conservation. The school will focus primarily on practical learning but will also include discussions, film screenings and presentations. Following this, preparations will move up a gear for our December Leadership School. Keep an eye on our blog for more updates!