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Fairfield U's Bellarmine Museum Exhibits Photos Of 'Vaults Of Heaven'

"The Virgin of Tenderness, New Church of Tokali (Buckle Church)," part of the "Vaults of Heaven" exhibit running now through September at the Bellarmine Museum of Art.
"The Virgin of Tenderness, New Church of Tokali (Buckle Church)," part of the "Vaults of Heaven" exhibit running now through September at the Bellarmine Museum of Art. Photo Credit: Ahmet Ertug

FAIRFIELD, Conn. – Fairfield University’s Bellarmine Museum of Art is presenting a new exhibition, “Vaults of Heaven: Visions of Byzantium,” now through Friday, Sept. 16.

The photography exhibition features the splendor of Byzantine sacred art, preserved in early Christian churches in both Constantinople (Istanbul), the capital of the Byzantine Empire, and the Cappadocia region of Turkey.

“Vaults of Heaven: Visions of Byzantium” features eight large-scale works by Turkish photographer Ahmet Ertug. The exhibition documents the interiors of four churches: the Karankik Kilise (Dark Church), the New Church of Tokali (Buckle Church), and the Meryem Ana Kilisesi (Church of the Mother of God) in Cappadocia, and the Church of Christ of Chora (Kariye Camii) in Istanbul. Each church is more than 900 years old.

The photographs include images of the dramatic church interiors and closeup views of elaborate wall paintings and mosaics depicting scenes from the life of Christ and images of saints. Ertug’s photographs capture the evocative mystery and grandeur of the ancient structures, all designated UNESCO World Heritage sites.

Ertug is a 1974 graduate of the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London, who has practiced architecture in England, Iran and Turkey. His commitment to photography started with a yearlong fellowship to study architecture in Japan, where he traveled extensively and photographed ancient temples, Zen gardens and festivals.

Returning to his native country, Ertug came to a realization: "The foundation of creativity is the profound knowledge of one's heritage." He has photographed much of Istanbul's impressive Byzantine, Ottoman and Roman remains, using a large-format camera that has enabled him to capture their full splendor.

Over the past three decades, he has produced 25 books of his photographs. Ertug’s work has been exhibited around the world. A permanent exhibition of his photographs is on display in Hagia Sophia in Istanbul.

The Bellarmine Museum of Art is open weekdays in April and May from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Check the museum website for summer hours.

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