A skilled calligrapher in Turkey's southeastern Gaziantep province is making a name for herself through the unique art of decorating dry leaves. Since studying traditional Turkish art forms at Gaziantep University, for the last eight years, Saliha Aktaş has been teaching courses in illumination, calligraphy, and miniature at a vocational school run by the Gaziantep municipality.
Seeking a less traditional way to practice her art, Aktaş started decorating the leaves of plants in her home around two years ago, before later extending this to dried tree leaves.
"I was working on paper," she said. "After a while, I began looking for a difference and said to myself, 'I have to create more remarkable works.' I started to work on this delicate, brittle leaves using a very fine processing art of miniature and decorative art of illumination and calligraphy."
The technique is difficult, but fun, Aktas said, adding, "It requires fine craftsmanship. The leaf is so brittle and can be easily torn, but I'm very happy to introduce the very special Turkish arts with leaves."
Aktaş first dries the leaves before beginning to paint them using acrylics and poster paints.
"While doing illumination and miniature on leaf, I mostly try to reflect our traditions and customs. I draw bridal ceremonies, traditional Gaziantep houses and historical monuments. I try to blend traditional motifs with my imagination."
She said her artwork had drawn a great deal of interest.
"Some people want me to teach them how to do it. I want to spread this art as much as I can."