Heidi Trautmann

679 - 1st International Akdeniz Terracotta Symposium - First Day

From 08 to 22 September 2014 in Ayia Irini –

First Day


Getting in touch with the ghosts of the past


By Heidi Trautmann


With some excitement I drove out to Akdeniz, through the village, along the old sand road towards the beach and the Carretta Restaurant, and there… hidden under some high pine trees I found the site, the site of the 1st International Akdeniz Terracotta Symposium.  Huge tables were set up, water stations for cold and hot water, a working camp….and many sacks of clay were waiting in the shade to be transformed into the figurines of the past. There were some kicking wheels prepared and in the back, the clay was soaking in ditches. People from the village and from Akcev-Der were doing last preparations to make the guests and ghosts feel at home.

I was early so I could talk to Rauf Ersenal, the initiator of the event, which I am sure has taken some months to prepare. Please find my article announcing the event at the end of my text with the details of background history and programme of the symposium.

Rauf was filling the freshly created cavity with the new figurines from his own hands and the hands of other local ceramic artists - including  those by Sevcan Cerkez who had not come yet - where once the original terracotta figurines were discovered. The project will have a continuation next year when a 100 sqm place will be dug and prepared and all figurines created during the symposium will find their home replacing the old ones which were once taken away. A huge heavy glass plate will cover the cavity so visitors can come and see the place.


The international guests (Egypt, Litvania, Estland, Romania, Iran, Bulgaria, Turkey and Cyprus) came around 11 o’clock ; they had arrived late the night before and were taken to the new Lambousa Hotel in Lapta. The president of AkCev-Der, Tayfun Tüccar and Rauf Ersenal welcomed the community of two weeks working together. They were introduced to each other and shown to their working places under the pine trees. Ayhatun Ateşin, the ever active curator made the introductions and distributed photos of the original figurines, the artists could choose from. Tools for the ceramic work were available and soon a busy atmosphere reigned under the trees. Clay was beaten to get the air out and make it pliable and soft, there was red and white clay.

The artists soon built up smaller and bigger sized forms and I had much pleasure at following the progress of their working.  In a couple of days the works will be dry and they will be brought to the kiln set up at the entrance of the village as it is too dangerous to do so among the pine trees.

There will be a presentation on September 19 by Nezih Basgelen (Historical Researcher) at 18:00 hrs and finally the exhibition will be ready to see on September 20 at 18:00 hrs.


I will continue to report on the progress on the occasion of the exhibition. Please find the names of participants on the poster.


My announcing article from some weeks ago:

The news of the event has caused some ripples of curiosity and excitement in the history and art interested communities of Cyprus. 36 ceramic artists from North Cyprus and Turkey will create replicas of the terracotta figurines that were found in a site near Ayia Irini/Akdeniz village and were excavated by members of the Swedish Archaeology Institute in 1929-1931. Half of the figurines are today in Stockholm at the Museum of Mediterranean and Near East Antiquities, you can find the photographs on their website, the Carlotta database, and the other half are in the Archaelogical Museum in Nicosia South.


It sounds very mystic to have these many artists assemble in Ayia Irini to create the images of the past, the treasure of a temple from the Late Bronze Age, figurines that guarded the altar, about 2000 of various sizes. Several times I have stood in front of the figurines lined up in one room at the Museum in Nicosia, a seemingly high culture, and I wondered what these people of times past have been like.

Now, some people in 2014 have got together and have organised an event to take place in the same area as the figurines were once discovered and lifted from their tomb to be taken to other places. It is two people mainly who have organised the event with the help of  AkcevDer, the Akdeniz organisation, that is Rauf Ersenal from Evkav (Board Chairman)  who had the idea in the first place and Ayhatun Atesin as curator; they know each other quite well since they have been organising ceramic art events together before. They sent out a call for participants to take part in this 14 days symposium and 34 artists confirmed their participation, not counting Rauf Ersenal and Ayhatun Atesin who are excellent ceramic artists themselves.

I had the occasion to interview Ayhatun some years ago – which is included in the first volume of my book ‘Art and Creativity in North Cyprus’ and I had also invited Rauf Ersenal repeatedly for an interview but he is so very busy; I had wanted to include him in the second volume of the book soon to be published.

The artists will get together on 08 September in the Church of Ayia Irini to work there and bring to life the ‘army’ of figurines; I wonder how many they will be able to create, perhaps they will have to have a second symposium. I have already seen some samples done by Rauf Ersenal in his own studio, the bronze age seems to be his passion.

Anyway, the firing process is set to be on 13 and 18 September; firing in a kiln especially and strictly built to the information available of a bronze age kiln.


There will be a presentation on September 19 by Nezih Basgelen (Historical Researcher) at 18:00 hrs and finally the exhibition will be ready to see on September 20 at 18:00 hrs.


The names of the participating artists are mentioned on the poster,  and as far as I can see, there are twelve ceramic artists from North Cyprus.


I love the area around Akdeniz, it has a very special atmosphere with the wind mainly coming from the west bending the trees and carrying the sand far inland. Once there were small kingdoms at this foremost western post of the island, the royal tombs are witnesses of it. Let us go and see whether the ceramic artists have accomplished to establish contact to the past of the island.


here the link with photos

Rauf Ersenal welcoming the guests
Rauf Ersenal welcoming the guests

Birol Bebek, Rauf Ersenal, Tayfun Tüccar, Ayhatun Atesin and Celal Arap
Birol Bebek, Rauf Ersenal, Tayfun Tüccar, Ayhatun Atesin and Celal Arap

Ayhatun distributing photos of figurines
Ayhatun distributing photos of figurines

here they are the new figurines already done
here they are the new figurines already done

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