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How Should Vandalism To World Heritage Works Be Prevented?

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A few weeks ago, I went for a walk on Ataşehir Meriç street. It is a long street with one-way motor traffic, it takes about six kilometers round trip from side to side, and I meet the daily goal of ten thousand steps. There are pictures on the garden exterior wall of Ataşehir Primary School on the way. They gave each artist a space of 3-4 meters in width, the height is two meters. Painters made oil paintings here on the wall.

Some are original on topics of their own choosing. Istanbul landscape, women’s rights (disturbed child bride), village landscape, Atatürk in a black business suit at the blackboard, Atatürk in military uniform on a horse immediately come to mind. There are copies of Van Gogh sunflower paintings, various other famous copies.

As I was passing by, I saw a young girl painter sitting on the floor on a mat, painting a new picture on the white wall reserved for her. She chose a hyper-realistic theme. Large bees were depicted on large honeycombs. I liked it very much, congratulated her. The picture will probably be finished in a few days. Then the rain will come, it will be under the influence of mud, the people passing by will touch it, it will wear out over time.

The interior space is on the right at the lower door exit of the Ankara Metu university library. There are oil paintings of famous Turkish painter Yalçın Gökçebağ on the exit wall. Who knows when the artist made these paintings there. Over time, the pictures have worn out. It was very good that the METU management provided plexiglass protection for these pictures to be protected. Be sure to see it if you pass by. There is a summer view on one side and a winter view on the other.

Between 1496 and 1498, Leonardo Davinci painted the famous “The Last Supper of Jesus” in the interior of the church of Santa Maria Della Gracia in Milan. Jesus and his twelve apostles were depicted in this painting. You make an appointment online to see the wall picture, you pay 15 € (2015 price) per person over the internet, you enter the church in groups of fifty together with other people for fifteen minutes in the time allotted to you. There is this famous painting on one wall of the venue, and another painting by another artist on the other wall. It is not possible to move it as it is a wall picture. Instead of transportation, the place has become a museum.

From 1498 to 1812, the painting remained in the place of worship within the church. When Napoleon soldiers came and occupied Milan, they made the church their barracks, behind the wall became a barn for cavalry horses. They opened the door under the picture for horse passage. Time has passed, the Napoleonic soldiers are gone, the door is closed. The picture has been preserved again. Today, it is not possible to approach the picture less than two meters away, there is a barrier wall between spectators and the picture. You already go through a very tight electronically protected security to enter.

Recently, two young female activists threw canned tomato soup on Van Gogh’s Sunflowers painting in the National Gallery in London. They wanted to draw attention to environmental pollution. They were released on bail because of their young age. Museum officials took precautionary measures earlier, there was a plastic transparent light protection film on the precious painting, so nothing happened to it. They cleaned the painting and it was back on display six hours later. There is nothing to be forgotten in this case. I would say that other means of protests, attitudes and explanations should be made for environmental awareness.

It is impossible to get closer than two meters to Laonardo Davinci’s “Mona Lisa” painting in the Louvre Museum in Paris. There are armed guards on both sides of the picture and an unbreakable glass security measure on the picture.

The painting collections of Amsterdam Van Gogh, Moscow Tretiakov, Madrid Prada, Rome Vatican, Florence Uffizi, New York Metropolitan museums are very beautiful. You must visit when you go.

We have many valuable oil paintings in Ankara painting and sculpture museum. My favorite painters Osman Hamdi, Yalçın Gökçebağ, Nedim Günsür’s paintings are there. My favorite painting is the Ankara castle view made by Nurettin Ergüven. My late father had bought the “Ortaköy” oil painting depicting Nurettin Ergüven before the Bosphorus bridge was built, from the artist himself, and carried the original painting home himself. We also bought a picture of “village place mosque at night at full moon” with it. Where is that Ortakoy picture now? The other picture remains with us.

Who knows what artifacts there are in the mansions of Büyükada? One of them is the Büyükada clock square painting by the artist named Ilbar Ahmet Veli, hanging in the open space on the wall of the pub at the entrance of the open market. Its value should be known and it should be taken to an inner sheltered place.

World Heritage Sites should be protected, they should not be targets for nonsense environmental protests or nasty actions. Serious deterrent measures must be taken. The vandal act in London’s National Gallery should be a warning to everyone and preventive measures should be taken.

Haluk Direskeneli

Haluk Direskeneli, is a graduate of METU Mechanical Engineering department (1973). He worked in public, private enterprises, USA Turkish JV companies (B&W, CSWI, AEP, Entergy), in fabrication, basic and detail design, marketing, sales and project management of thermal power plants. He is currently working as freelance consultant/ energy analyst with thermal power plants basic/ detail design software expertise for private engineering companies, investors, universities and research institutions. He is a member of Chamber of Turkish Mechanical Engineers Energy Working Group.

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