Ayhan Akikol / Mehmet Toparlı

Ayhan is a third year undergraduate student at Mardin Artuklu University, Faculty of Fine Arts, Department of Painting. In 2020 she participated at the group exhibition of the Department of Painting students entitled “Corridor”. She also participated in the online group exhibition named “Stone Sketches” at the Gallery Artuklu of Mardin Artuklu University Faculty of Fine Arts in 2021. Some of her work was published at an e-magazine platform.

Mehmet Toparlı

Mehmet Toparlı, Mazıdağ Provincial Director of Youth and Sports, learned the art of felting from his father Şakir Toparlı. Master Şakir, a pupil of Master Amso, was the last felt artisan in Mardin. Master Mehmet aims to preserve the art of felting, with his work that brings  forth traditional motifs combined with modern designs.


Felt is a thick textile product that has been used by the Middle Asian Turkish nomads with waterproof and climate control qualities that provide warmth in cold climates and coolness in hot ones. Virgin wool, right after shearing, is cleaned by burr picking, and scribbled to its fibers using bow and maul. After the wool is laid on a straw mat following the traditional patterns, it is sprinkled with warm water and soap. Then, rolled in the mat, the wool is felted with elbow and foot strikes, using intense physical strength in a humid environment. During this operation, which is performed in humid environments as fountains and hammams for about 30 to 40 minutes, the wool fibres interlock and felting occurs. Wandering in the market area of Mardin, not hearing the “huh-hah” voices of the half naked masters in sweat and blood, refers to the disappearance of the felting art. 


In almost all cultures, women are associated with nature and seen as the source of fertility, fruitfulness and healing. As the symbol of fruitfulness, women’s relationship with earth results in  earth’s feminine representation in our minds, and has led up to the “Mother Earth” expression. As a result of the political and economic processes in history, masculine mindset has dominated the social sphere, and an asymmetric and uneven relationship between men and women was set, casting a secondary role to women.

In the joint work of the artist and the artisan, “Femina” sets off from women’s relationship with nature. On a felted background, that is formed from a natural material, wool, moistened and compressed into felt, a woman resembling ‘Pieta’ is depicted by felting. In the depiction, while the branches far from the woman’s body are dry, the ones at her hand heal and start to give sprouts; nature comes into life again in the hands of the woman.