By Heidi Trautmann
Nilgün Güney is an artist, daughter of Ismet Güney, first Turkish Cypriot painter who designed the national flag on the occasion of the foundation of the Republic of Cyprus in 1960. Born and brought up in Nicosia she knows the local art scene better than anybody else. She was the founder and President of EMAA, the European Mediterranean Art Association when she realized that the voice of one artist alone remains unheard.
She is retired now as an art teacher in highschool and as President for the younger generation to take over, but she will always remain an institution and with her still active studio a place where artists go to meet and talk, and students come to learn from her.
With her son, Ates Kozal, also an artist, she opened her Studio Café ‘Cadi Kazani’ (The Witch’s Cauldron) in the Arabahmet area, an old family house she had revamped in the old style, with a lovely inner courtyard and occasional art activities. I love going there because she is always available for a good talk on the arts, about artists and the newest developments and gossip in the art scene.
Whenever I am approached by journalists, writers, artists to learn more about art, I take them to Nilgün, sometimes invite members of the art association in the Greek part, or the current President of EMAA, to satisfy their curiosity with the immediate responses by the artists themselves. So, two years ago we started together another project to talk about the arts to German speaking tourists who come by for a drink or coffee. They are very much interested to learn about the life of artists before and after the Cypriot conflicts and I am sure that they go home with a complete different picture in their mind than can be found in any tourist guidebook.
On the first floor Nilgün has her studio she shares with her students who for years now have come to work with her, have exhibitions together and do common projects with a social and political background around the history of Cyprus, especially Nicosia, the divided city.
There are many cats around, integral part of the café, part of the witches’ scene, and they sit on the counter and stare at you, or sit on top of the piano where musicians come and play for the audience, for example my friend Armin Ratip, with Jazz and love songs.
The Café opens at 17:00 hrs and is in Tazimut Sokak, that is close to the moat opposite the Ledra Palace.
Published in Cyprus Observer Oct 20, 2012