The Hasankeyf Print is a limited edition, relief print, with added hand-work in charcoal and gold leaf by artist Michael Alexander.
How this project came about
Alexander’s inspiration for this work came from a photograph that a friend of his took while travelling in Eastern Turkey. When he saw the image of the partly destroyed sculptural relief from the side of the El-Rizk mosque which was built in 1409, he says that, ” something in my inner-self wanted to restore the relief in a print.”
People have called Hasankeyf home for 12,000 years, evidence of human habitation goes back to the Neolithic period. The Romans used it as a military bastion. Constantine the Great had the city fortified before it became the Byzantine Bishopric of Cephe. The Turkmen Artukid and Kurdish Ayyubid Islamic dynasties changed its name to Hisn Kaifa and developed a medieval Islamic capital, whose traces remain, but this will all disappear if authorities have their way. It is estimated that 80 percent of the ruins and Hasankeyf town will, by 2019, be submerged under 10.4 billion cubic meters of water held back by the Ilisu Dam.
Geometric Kufic script
The original sculptural relief was carved in a geometric form of Kufic script, which is one of the oldest forms of calligraphy. Some of the extant oldest Qu’rans were written in such. The inscription names Mohamed (peace be upon him) Abu bakr, Omar, Othman, Obaid, Talha, Sayed, Zubaid and Abdurahman, these men were some of the close companions of the last prophet.
Alexander says, “I am hoping by making this multimedia print that this 1409 remembrance of these noble humans will not be lost by the flooding of the Hasankeyf town.
How the Hasankeyf print was made
Firstly, a copy of the original had to be made in reverse and this transferred to the Linoleum by hand, drawing the grid and then marking each square that is to remain, which when viewed together shows the the Kufic script.
Then, the carving out of the new relief, first done with a straight blade to give sharp edges and then using a gauge to cut away the parts of the linoleum that are not wanted, thus relieving the image to be printed.
Next, ink is applied to the linoleum, paper lain over the block and using a Japanese baren or rubbing tool. The paper is then pulled from the block and the ink allowed to dry. This printing is done fifty times in order to complete the limited edition.
Charcoal dust is then brushed onto the dry print to darken the background.
Then the 24K gold leaf is applied, by masking off the area to be gilded, painting a glue to the area to be gilded.
Delicately dropping the leaf onto the glue and rubbing it in place.
The masking tape is then removed leaving the Gold only in the area required.
The price of one of Michael’s limited edition prints (out of 50) is €75.
If you would like to see more of Michael Alexander’s work, please click the link below.
Michael Alexander. Mobile: 642-128-797 (add 00-34 out side of Spain)
“Never underestimate the Cultural Power of an artist.” Sean Skully.
“Nunca subestimes el poder cultural de un artista”. Sean Scully
Written by Michael Alexander.
Photos courtesy of Michael and Fred Shively.