Nancy's Excellent Adventure

Chicago Art Girl Nancy Gardner of Nancy Gardner Ceramics took a trip to Turkey this summer amidst her busy art fair schedule.  Here is her account of her trip overseas....

Turkey has long been the meeting point of East and West, an ancient crossroads and seat of power where layers of history exist along side a vibrant culture.   It is fascinating to see the remnants of centuries of civilization, coming from a place where old means 200 years. 

It is in this special place that the International Art Workshop has taken place for the last 4 years.  Originally held at Anadolu University, it has been in Olimpos for 3 years, a place of natural beauty and stunning ruins.  50 artists from all over the world are invited to work, make presentations, socialize and explore the local landscape, which include ruins from ancient Greece, Rome and early Christian civilization.  The largest contingent of artists work in ceramics, but there are also painters, sculptors and calligraphers.  Professors from around the country also do presentations on their areas of specialization, which include either historic or technical work.

The common language was English, which was lucky for us, as we spoke no Turkish, Japanese, Korean, Serbian, Chinese, Polish – you get the idea.  It was amazing how well people could communicate using what is a second or third language for most of the participants, with a little help from some truly bilingual artists. 

Our day began with a typical Turkish breakfast followed by artist presentations.  These could be short or long, often with translators, but some just gave up and showed the work.  Most of the work has not been seen in the US or in US publications.  It was really interesting to see what it going on in the world.

After the presentations we worked in the outdoor studios, which were provided by the host Pension, until lunch.   After lunch, more work and afternoon presentations, which were generally more scholarly in nature.  I found the historic and archeological lectures particularly engaging.

Another afternoon work session was usually followed by a walk to the beach.  To get to the beach you had to pass through an outdoor archaeological museum; entry was free to participants.  Each day we followed a different path, and were blown away by the beauty, mystery and accessibility of what we were walking through.  Exploring these ancient sites with nothing roped off was a profound experience.  As the sun set over the mountains, the light would find its way into tombs and basilicas, all overgrown and half hidden which was purely magical.  I was talking about this to the Turkish artists who I think had no idea how amazing all this was, having lived with ruins of this sort all their lives. 

The idea began with Turkish artist  A. Cyunet Er  who was attending workshops in Europe and Asia and thinking that it would be great for the students at his University to be exposed to international artists.  Anadolu University is a college specializing in deaf students and he felt it would benefit them to meet and work with artists from all over the world.  Since moving the workshop to Olimpos this has not always been possible due to funding issues, but he is determined to keep the workshop going.  The focus this year was building a wood kiln, achieved by much hard work and expertise by the Korean potters and their assistants.  It’s a beautiful kiln and will be great for next year’s participants. 

Things I learned:  Lots of people speak a little English and it doesn’t take much if you are motivated to communicate.   I have no natural affinity for the Turkish language. There is a huge world out there and artists are all getting together and working together and we have no idea.  If you are creative, you can do amazing things without huge gobs of money.  There are around 500 potters living in Machiko, Japan and every spring and Fall people come from all over Japan to buy pottery.  This lasts 10 days each time.  Turkish time is much looser than USA time but everything seems to get done.  Swim in the Mediterranean every chance you get.  The ice cream bars there are great and really too cheap to not have one every day.

Comments

Dear Nancy, we are so lucky

Dear Nancy, we are so lucky that we know you both, please meet again. Thanks for this comprehensive writing about our workshop. You were the part of it, so it was wonderful. all the best wishes :)

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