Congratulations Heidi Trautmann

Order of Merit Award from Germany

By Margaret Sheard…

We were delighted when Heidi Trautmann informed us that the President of the German Federal Republic had awarded her the Order of Merit for her work in Cyprus.  The news was given to Heidi by the German Embassy in Cyprus in December, with the ceremony Medal and certificatescheduled to take place in January.

The presentation reception was eventually arranged for Friday 23rd January and was held at the residence of the Embassy Counsellor, Peter Neven and his wife Aigül.   It was a private reception so unfortunately we were unable to witness the event but Heidi has told us that it was quite exciting and of course she is very proud to have been recognised by her homeland for the work she has been doing for a long period of time in the field of art and culture here in North Cyprus.

I expect Heidi was very overcome with this gesture from her country but she delivered this lovely speech to those present which I think expresses her love for what she does.

“I am very proud to be awarded for my work but also humble in front of the fact that I owe it to the people of Cyprus, to the artists who have become my friends over the years, to the opportunity I was given to undertake this journey and that I just had to do what I did.

Tonight assembled are a handful of my friends, people of the first hour sort of, artists I have made my first interviews with and who opened the road for me to the art scene of Cyprus; artists who have left marks not only with their art but with their activities. Artists who crossed borders in the true and also in a metaphorical sense, who founded associations and kept them going strong which is – believe me – not easy.

I will never forget the bi-communal events when the gates opened, events that meant for the artists of both sides to make an approach and get to know each other; there were many others who helped all the way through, such as the Goethe Centre assisting in bi-communal events such as Art Aware, poetry readings, exhibitions and many more, later continued by the Goethe Institute.

I will never forget a project during one phase of peace talks in the UN controlled  zone with Greek and Turkish Cypriot art works hung up in the rooms where the negotiators met; a very strong movement.

During all these processes I was involved as an observer and in many articles I commented on them, in some of the events I took part myself.

I will never forget the first interviews I conducted, through which I learnt so much and which touched me so deeply.  I remember quite well the many hours I spent sitting with artists on the floor and leafing through old sketches. I spent hours with artists taking part in international workshops in their efforts to communicate with the outside world and then slowly going out, taking part in events in all parts of the world, today they are to be found in Germany, France, Italy….in the whole of Europe and beyond, in the Near and Far East as well, they have burst the bonds and travel in the name of their country and they were present at the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall with their work.

From poets I learnt the road Cypriot literature took, the fights they had, their philosophy and the pressure they lived under, highly sensitive people who have observed the course their country took with a literary eye.

For the last eight years I did not miss a theatre play and I have studied the mimicry of the excellent actors and actresses. I have taken part in their protests against powers that were about to destroy the theatre and I have witnessed the unbelievable strength of will to keep the theatre going. The last thing to die is hope.???????????????????????????????

Yes, this philosophy is still valid and I am glad and proud that I was to witness the struggle and live with all of them a stretch of Cypriot life.

A little story that goes nicely with my receiving this Order of Merit ….

I got one ‘Golden Star’ before, an appreciation for a work I did, that was when I was 12 years old. One morning in school we had a composition test and the theme was ‘Visiting Paris’ and as I thought visiting the city too dull I made a long poem of my visiting Paris, my favourite Greek, son of Priamus, who was asked to make his choice from among the most beautiful women and which caused the Trojan war. Although having missed the point of the composition I was given best mark plus a golden star. 60 years later on the occasion of my only class reunion my class mates still remembered it.

I trust that this time I have not missed the point and I am very grateful because it will always remind me of a very important part in my life.”

Congratulations Heidi, wear your Order of Merit with pride, it is very well deserved.

To see more of Heidi’s work, visit her website www.heiditrautmann.com