Islington People: archaeologist unearths a new talent

There is no obvious connection between the excavation of a 9,000 year old Neolithic site in central Turkey and the creation of artisan crafts in north London, but archaeologist Beliz Tecirli is the missing link in a fascinating chain that ties heritage management to contemporary design.

Beliz, 29, who lives in Wallace Street, Canonbury, looks after historic artefacts for the Museum of London by day but spends her spare time making crocheted fashion accessories inspired by her knowledge of ancient cultures.

Her inspiration came when working on an excavation site in Catalhoyuk, Turkey, where women from the local village were selling edge lacing for headscarves.

She said: “There’s a rich tradition of edge lacing, going back several thousand years. My idea was to make larger versions and modernise them with bolder, more dynamic colours.”

Beliz’s idea has since evolved from a hobby into a burgeoning small business.

She continued: “I started last summer, making a couple of scarves as gifts for my friends. Then their friends wanted some, and it grew from there.”

She is keen to sell her designs as locally as possible – currently, her accessories are available in Stoke Newington and Brick Lane, and she hopes to seee her creations stocked in Islington soon.

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She added: “I loved art at school and always used to doodle in class, things like new designs, dresses, and accessories.

“But I recall my art teacher saying you’ll never make money in fashion, so I abandoned that dream.

“So it’s nice when boutiques and shops take on new designers, especially designers who don’t have an art background.”

Beliz, whose accessories take up to three hours to create and generally retail for around �20 to �30, sees the demand for her handiwork as part of a wider cultural appreciation of traditional skills in the modern world.

She said: “The practice of arts and crafts is coming back. It’s no longer seen as ‘granny’s work’, it’s very young and trendy. I know that knitting clubs and crochet clubs have popped up all over the area.”

“I see this at the Museum. We organise workshops about lamp making or ancient Chinese paintings and lots of people sign up.”

Beliz’s greatest desire is to encourage Islington’s young people to participate in this trend.

She added: “Growing up, if I had read of someone making something at home and selling it locally, I think I would have started much earlier.”