Could you tell us about yourself?
Melanie Mehrer is a Canadian artist and art teacher based in Istanbul. She has lived and worked in the Dominican Republic, Taiwan, Shanghai, China, the United Arab Emirates but likes to call Istanbul home. She has had several small exhibitions in Istanbul of her paintings that show the whimsical side of istanbul life.
Why did you come to Istanbul? What has changed in your life since you arrived?
I first came to Istanbul at the end of a three month backpacking trip through Egypt , Jordan, Syria and Turkey, so my first stop in Turkey was actually Cappadoccia. My sister and I had plans to travel for three weeks down the coast of Turkey, but we loved Istanbul so much we dropped our bags in Sultanahmet and didn’t leave for three weeks. In 2009, I came here for a year to decide what to do with my life after living in the Emirates and not liking my job and life there. I was so inspired by the city, I started a series of paintings on life in istanbul how I saw it that was very successful. I decided I wanted to fulfill my dream of being an artist/art teacher in Istanbul so I went home, got an Education degree in Visual arts and came back to Turkey to fulfill my dream in 2012.
What is the first thing that comes to your mind when we say Istanbul?
There is a really strong creative undercurrent in Istanbul that exists no where else I have ever been, so I never cease to be inspired by the people, the history, the physical space. I don’t think it’s possible to see all of istanbul in one lifetime. I can walk the same routes everyday and still experience something new. There are so many currents and crossroads that cross paths in Istanbul I feel you get addicted to the energy. My friends and I joke that we are ruined to live in another city in the world.
Which aspect of Istanbul excites you?
Two suggestions I would have is for people living here to buy a copy of John Freely’s “Strolling through Istanbul” and do a few of the walks ad see where the adventure takes you. One of my favourite things to do is go have a Raki and Salgam under the Galata bridge and watch fisherman pull fish up while you have a drink and admire the view of ferries coming and going on the Bosphorus.
Could you tell us a memorable moment in Istanbul?
I think the best night I had in Istanbul was going with friends to see the Leonard Coen Concert in the Hiton-Harbiye Amphitheatre in 2009. It was a hot night with a full moon, the amphitheatre was full and beautiful and intimate. As a Canadian I was surprised that Leonard Cohen was so popular among Turks. It goes to show what an international city Istanbul is.