‘Prayers Long Silent’: Protecting endangered heritage in post-conflict Cyprus

April 13, 2017
The Collision Space (Smith Warehouse | Bay 10 | A266)

4:30pm

The Wired! Lab is pleased to host, in collaboration with the Computational Media Arts & Cultures Rendezvous, Michael J.K. Walsh, Associate Professor of Art History, School of Art, Design and Media, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.

“‘Prayers Long Silent’: Protecting endangered heritage in post-conflict Cyprus”

The walled city of Famagusta, Cyprus, with its French Gothic churches, exquisite 14th-century frescoes, towering Venetian walls, domed Ottoman hamams, and majestic British Imperial architecture, should be a UNESCO World Heritage Site – but it is not. Instead, as a result of the Turkish military intervention in 1974 and the ensuing political stalemate that exists to this day, the city and its heritage have become dangerously isolated – its architectural and art-historical treasures within its walls virtually forgotten.

Following the successful nomination of Famagusta to the World Monuments Fund (WMF) Watch List in 2008 and 2010, Nanyang Technological University in Singapore (with the WMF and the Famagusta Municipality) led a series of international efforts to protect, stabilize and study Famagusta’s irreplaceable heritage, and in particular its extant murals. This presentation will discuss this initiative, and highlight the interdisciplinarity of the project ranging as it did from emergency mural conservation to VR reconstruction; from pedagogical projects to the intricacies of international law; from GPR mapping to 700 year old Armenian archives. The presentation will include the screening of a short documentary film produced to highlight the relationship between culture and politics, and the interface between art history and technology.

Biography

Michael J. K. Walsh F.R.S.A., FRHistS., conducted his graduate studies at the Universities of St. Andrews, Cambridge and York, before joining the Department of Archaeology and Art History at Eastern Mediterranean University, Famagusta. In his time there he successfully nominated the historic city of Famagusta for inclusion in the World Monuments Fund Watch List (twice) and also acted as team coordinator for the United Nations project ‘Cultural Heritage Data Collection in the northern part of Cyprus’. He has edited and co-edited four books on Famagusta, including Medieval and Renaissance Famagusta (Ashgate, 2012), Crusader to Venetian Famagusta (Central European University Press, 2014), Famagusta: Contemporary Images from an Historic City (Datz Press, 2015), and City of Empires: Ottoman and British Famagusta (CSP, 2015). A fifth book entitled Prayers Long Silent: Famagusta’s Armenian Church and the Complexity of Cypriot Heritage will be published by Palgrave MacMillan this week.