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North Cyprus Fest 2007

Source: Londra Toplum Postasi  
15 March 2007

The first North Cyprus Festival to be held in the UK, took place in North London's St Monica and Apney Hall last week. The six-day cultural festival was well attended by members of London's Turkish Cypriot, Turkish and Kurdish communities, and attracted wide attention numerous communities from across the Capital. The festival, which was a mixed bag of folklore dancing, theatre, concert singing, a piano performance and a caricature and art exhibition was organised by theatrical artist Ilke Susuzlu and supported by the London TRNC Representative, and TRNC Prime Ministry.

Sumer's Art Intervention

Celebrating Turkish Cypriot artistic talent, the festival commenced with an Art and Cartoonist Exhibition at Apney Public Hall in Church Street, Stoke Newington on Thursday March 8, where North Cyprus Prime Minister Ferdi Sabit Soyer opened the exhibition. In a passionate performance, 17-year old Eser Oktem played the piano, while renowned artist Sumer Erek unveiled "Dolama" a lamentatious performance, where he sat seated holding a portrait, while Italian performance artist Elisa walked around singing Dolama (a traditional Cypriot song) sung in a non-existent language.

Artist Sumer Erek, was also at hand to discuss his work of art, Pom-e-grante Hand-granade, which he claims is the continuation of an art intervention last November in front of the visiting North Cyprus Prime Minister, where he appealed for help and support to make the "explosive" ineffective at the TCCA building in Haringey. The performance, Sumer claims has both personal and public messages.

Among the distinguished guests were Prime Minister Ferdi Sabit Soyer, London TRNC Representative Yonca Senyigit, Conservative Enfield Councillor Dogan Delman, Labour Enfield Councillor Ahmet Oykener and Liberal Democrat Islington Councillor Meral Ece. CTP London Representative Ilker Kilic and TCCA Chairperson Turkay Hadji-Filippou also attended . In a last minute change of heart, UBP London leader Mehmet Bayramoglu who had previously protested that Greek songs were going to be sung at the festival came to watch Havasu Garayanni and extend his support in the end.

Havasu Garayanni

For the first time, Ilke Susuzli's semi-political and historical performance "Havasu Garayanni" was screened at 20:00 on the 9th March at St Monica's Hall, with a humourous and very traditional Cypriot performance by Ozgur Tascioglu, Alper Susuzlu, Ercan Saymen and Fatos Ozturen completed fully in the Cypriot vernacular. Music lovers were treated to a concert of traditional and popular Cypriot songs by up and coming singer Umut Albayrak on Saturday the 10th of March. Local resident Ismail who attended the performance, said: "I really enjoyed the performance, which was magical, its not often one gets to listen traditional Cypriot songs in London, however I was a little saddened that I could not hear any Greek songs, as I grew up in Cyprus hearing both languages like any normal Cypriot". "Listening to songs in both languages is part and parcel to being Cypriot" he added.

A Cypriot Bandabulya (Pantapoulia)

Visitors to the event, which took place on Sunday March 11 at Apney Hall were able to buy hand-crafted lace wear and baskets made locally in Northern Cyprus and talk to the artists who made them. With the art and caricature exhibition continuing until Wednesday the 14th, the organiser of the festival sought to create a real life Cypriot bandabulya or market. With free koftes and other sticky Cypriot treats, the event, finished Cypriot style with a performance by Nicosia Youth Centre’s folk dance and musical group.

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