We are not making restorations, we are making constructions
We live with thousands of years of history. It comes out the more we dig.
And whatever surfaces, it necessitates the rewriting of history.
Yet not a day goes by without hearing new news about a restoration scandal.
We see cement being laid down on the floor of an archaeological theater. Or missing parts are complemented by cement blocks.
We are always after the new looking like old. Yet what we should do is conserve what is left to us as it is.
Restorers have no word on this business. In fact it is not such a difficult thing to understand. There is lack of historical and aesthetic concern.
Restorers Fatih Çelebi says restoration is seen just as a structural endeavor; the elements and ornaments that reflect the historical period are neglected. As there is ignorance on how to treat them, usually they are either uprooted or they get damaged during the works even if the intention is to leave them as they are. He says no special measures to conserve them are being taken.
Çelebi also mentioned problems about wages. “I can tell you as a restoration technician if restorers continue in this profession even after having worked for two or three years, they do so because they really like the job because the wage you get in exchange for the work you do is nothing. We work for minimum wage. My first wage was 530 liras. Even though the minimum wage was 630 liras we used to give back 100 liras. You get minimum wage in exchange for working in dangerous, unhygienic places with harmful chemicals in the midst of dust with the utmost attention and precision, for the passion to learn the job. Actually we do not get the proper restoration education in schools. The graduates don’t learn much at schools. The job is learned in the field.”
Because they are graduate of two-year schools, he says they are being looked down by the architects and that their proposals are not taken into account.
“While a lot of money is being spend for construction, not enough attention is paid to the architectural and the aesthetic. Our state and our administrators need to be aware of that.”
Çelebi criticizes the use of cement as well as low-quality material.
“The inspections should be done in a much better way because what is done will not be undone.”
Half of the constructions that are currently been facing restoration will probably not be on their feet anymore in 50 years. Or they will become unrecognizable.
They don’t do the originals. They make imitations. But what is the criteria of being similar; is that just color. Sometimes they don’t even keep the same color.
Çelebi asks: “Is no one seeing this? Or if they do, why don’t they raise their voice; why do they keep silent?”