By Heidi Trautmann
In North Cyprus bronze age figurines have often been found in caves by people who roamed about the hills, by youngsters always out for adventures, shepherds and the like; so I know of one who did and was fascinated about the culture; first he sold them, got punished when found out but he could not get his mind off it and today he makes them himself together with members of his family, officially authorized by the government and he makes them so well you would not recognize the difference. The Piro Family from Dikmen, there they have their workshop, in the first years they fired their ware in the kübkebab oven, today they have a proper kiln.
Sculptures to honour gods and goddesses go back to the beginning of thinking mankind establishing a relationship between nature and their life, and we continue right through the Greek and Roman epochs with its unbelievable strong presence of sculpting art to the middle ages with famous sculptors such as Michelangelo; everybody around the whole world will know them.
The first thing dictators are doing- seems to me- is to set themselves a monument either by showing how big they are or by showcasing their philosophy of perfect human society; we have had that in Communism, figures with hammer and sickle, representing the workers and farmers, still in North Korea to be seen. Sculptures for political and legendary heroes as we find them in most countries.
François-Auguste-René Rodin is one of the most significant sculptors in the 19th century and I am sure that everybody knows his The Thinker /Le Penseur which actually was not the image of an intellectual but of the French box champion Jean Baud. For a long time he was not recognized because of his unconventional style. Also his work ‘The citizens of Calais’ or ‘Balsac’ which I saw at the MoMo in New York. Phantastic works!
Just recently we had big Europe wide discussions going on because of Damien Hirst’s new statue Verity, a 20 m high statue now at home in Ilfracombe at the English coast. It is the statue of a naked woman with her skin partially peeled off to show her muscles and the glands of her one breast …and the baby in her womb, in her one hand she points a sword into the sky but the scales of justice behind her back. Funny enough, it’s mostly women who are adoring the statue for being a true strong woman, erect and fighting; many men among my friends were simply disgusted. From Ilfracombe itself came the most contradictory comments:
"Impressive," "She's a magnet. She's got a personality that draws you in."
"It's typical Damien Hirst, a bit Hannibal Lecter-ish. He can't help himself, can he?"
But shopkeepers were delighted at the attention the resort was getting because of Verity. The ice-cream parlours and fish and chips shops were doing good business.
People like harbour master Rob Lawson, who was happy to wax lyrical about the merits of Verity: "One half of her is calm, beautiful; the other half is provocative – the human as an animal." He is delighted the statue, on loan to the town for 20 years, has created a buzz. And if nothing else she will make it easy for visiting yacht captains to find Ilfracombe. "Some people say they find it difficult to see the harbour entrance from out to sea. They won't be able to miss it now."
Damien Hirst wants to shock, and he does so very successfully. He has already done a similar ‘Virgin Mary’ statue which according to my information is in front of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts with a more detailed contents of her womb.
I have observed a wave of street sculptures growing around the globe; the first ones I saw and met in New York and Washington but the more you travel the more you discover them everywhere. So, when you roam about in a foreign city with no one to talk to you find perhaps a bench and there is a bronze figure sitting right next to you reading the newspaper you will feel much better won’t you? Sculptures of people like you and me, going about their business, or resting a while before going on; workers coming out of the underground through a sewer cover; a bronze mom crossing the street with her kid and dog; boys playing with marbles; or even Roosevelt and Churchill discussing world’s politics on street level. Isn’t that charming? Here in North Cyprus we could do with some nice street sculptures, professional ones, I mean.