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The sculpture park you can see from space

From Ivan Watson CNN
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • In Cappadocia, Turkey, artist Andrew Rogers has created sculptures visible from space
  • His "drawings on the Earth" are made from rock walls, some up to eight-feet tall
  • Rogers has also constructed "contemporary ruins"
  • The sculptures are best viewed from a hot-air balloon above the spectacular landscape

Goreme, Turkey (CNN) -- Australian artist Andrew Rogers has a vision. He wants to create massive "drawings on the Earth" that are visible from space.

So far, he has succeeded far beyond expectations, building dozens of structures in 12 countries on five different continents.

But sometimes his ambitious projects don't go according to plan.

"One truck ... stuck!" a Turkish truck driver informs Rogers in broken English. He points to an 18-wheel truck. Its driver struggles to drag a trailer loaded with an enormous 50-foot-tall column of solid basalt rock, up a crude dirt road.

A few hours later, when crane operators try to use steel cables to lift the 60-ton obelisk off the trailer into an upright position, the normally unflappable Rogers allows himself a moment of worry.

"Those cables don't look so thick, do they," he murmurs to himself.

Eventually, the stone pillar will support a four-story-high archway that is part of a sprawling stone sculpture park Rogers has constructed in the hills of the central Turkish region of Cappadocia.

Some of the installations could be described as "contemporary ruins" -- clusters of columns decorated with blindingly reflective 23-carat gold, reminiscent of the ancient Greek and Roman temples that dot the Turkish countryside.

We're trying to make people think about what's gone before and what's going to be important in the future.
--Andrew Rogers, artist
Video: Sculptures visible from space
RELATED TOPICS
  • Sculpture
  • Turkey
  • Middle East

"We're trying to make people think about what's gone before and what's going to be important in the future," Rogers says.

Other structures are best seen from the sky. Fortunately, Cappadocia is a popular tourist destination with a growing hot-air balloon industry.

Up close, many of Rogers' structures look like little more than a series of strangely-curved rock walls, some up to eight feet tall.

But from a floating balloon and wicker basket, tethered to a jeep bumping down a dirt road far below, the kilometers of winding rock walls reveal themselves as huge, ornate drawings on the side of hilltops, in the shape of giant horses, mythological beasts and ancient tribal symbols.

"We always try to work with the local people and ask them what's important for their history and their heritage and what they want to show the next generations," Rogers explains pointing to a mammoth double-bodied lion he says originally decorated a centuries-old tomb built by ancient Selcuk Turks.

Some locals admit they were baffled when Rogers first launched his project in Cappadocia.

"We didn't understand what they want," says Mustafa Sevin, one of the army of more then 1,000 local workers that has been employed to construct the sculpture park.

"After time, we can see the different shapes. It looks nice. When we are finished, we can be very happy."

Sevin talks as he and dozens of other stone masons chisel into the limestone of a hilltop with sharp picks. The clanging blades strike up an unusual syncopated rhythm, accompanied by flying stone fragments and explosions of fine limestone dust.

"This is the creation of an amphitheater," Rogers explains. "People will be able to come up here and sit and look up the valley ... and think what it all means and what's important in life."

Rogers says one of his goals is to create "sacred spaces for contemplation." He has built similar works of land art in barren, hard-to-reach destinations like the Atacama desert of Chile, the mountains of Nepal, and the arctic highlands of Iceland.

Cappadocia stands out because of its combination of otherworldly landscape and ancient civilization. Visitors flock to see its bizarre fairy-chimney formations, carved out of volcanic rock valleys by thousands of years of wind and water.

The rippling rock walls are also honeycombed with thousand-year-old cave dwellings. In the fourth century A.D., Christians sought sanctuary in these valleys, carving pillared chapels out of the soft rock and digging deep tunnels to hide and protect themselves from attacking armies.

Residents say the sculpture park will add a new artistic dimension to Cappadocia's rich natural and cultural treasures.

"These giant sculptures are going to be a bridge from the past to the present," said Ozgur Ozarslan, an official from Turkey's Culture and Tourism Ministry.

He spoke at an opening ceremony for the sculpture park, held within a ring of stone columns on a hilltop. Later, an orchestra played works by Vivaldi and Sarasate, the first of what Rogers hopes will be many concerts to be performed in the location.

Locals say the name Cappadocia stems from an ancient word that means "land of beautiful horses."

A hillside leading into the sculpture park, is now decorated with a giant stone horse. Rogers titled this work of land art, "The Gift." It is a gift built to withstand the test of time.

 
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