Heidi Trautmann

688 - 1st International Akdeniz Terracotta Symposium - Final Day – Exhibition and Presentation

From 08 to 22 September 2014 in Ayia Irini –


Greeting the ghosts of the past


By Heidi Trautmann


Towards the end of the second week of the symposium the initiator Rauf Ersenal as well as the curator Ayhatun Ateşın have been very secretive about how and where the many figurines would best be set up for the exhibition; it would be a surprise, they said and a surprise it was.


I have been following the project and the team of ceramic artists closely and wrote several articles on it. I repeat myself when I say that the atmosphere was very good, you could feel the excitement in the air and the waves of comradeship that went through the community working in a small forest under big pine trees where the working tables were set up. (See the links below).

The artists had moved all their accomplished work to the small church just outside Akdeniz Village where they were set up; utmost care had to be taken as some of the figurines were still not completely dried in order to undergo the firing process, i.e. they were still raw.

The day of exhibition had come and we arrived the moment when the sun got ready to set over the coastal land with its wind beaten bushes and trees. Hundreds of people had gathered around the church, village people feeling quite at home, sitting on the stone benches in the church yard greeting the many guests that were flocking in and among them the forty ceramic artists who looked happy and relaxed and sun tanned from the two weeks working in the open air. On long wooden tables they had prepared local finger food and drinks for the guests.

We were led into the church which was now inhabited by the figurines lit by hundreds of oil lamps and we were struck by the beauty of it. The figurines were facing us, be they soldiers or heroes, reminding us that the Phoenician culture had once been part of Cyprus history.

The area of Akdeniz/Ayia Irini has once been one of the twelve city kingdoms with its huge bay opening to the westerly winds.

Akdeniz has in the last couple of years found new interest as a nature and turtle breeding resort and new activities in this direction were initiated by the local association Akcev-Der and its President Tayfun Tüccar and its very active members. We often walked along the long deserted natural beach to gather new energy on occasions such as New Year or birthdays, it had become a ritual, sort of.

But now Akdeniz has become the centre of interest by the recent 1st Terracotta Symposium and the parties involved had all come together in front of the church to celebrate the conclusion of the event, the successful conclusion, and all of them said so in their welcoming speeches: Rauf Ersenal and Ayhatun Ateşın, Tayfun Tüccar and his helpers and Nezih Başgelen (Historical Researcher) and finally the charming lady Dr. Sibel Siber, Speaker of the Parliament, and friendly Mehmet Ali Talat, 2nd President of the TRNC and his wife Oya, they had come to the workshop itself and had taken great interest in it.


It is a historical moment, as Rauf Ersenal so rightly says, we have succeeded in reviving our history, making visible our roots, by recreating part of it, the figurines from Akdeniz, that were wrongly taken away from us, taken away from the island. They are here now with us in a recreated form as representatives of the past…..we have made connection to the ghosts of the past.

The atmosphere on the site of exhibition was just as harmonious as the past two weeks of workshop, it was simple, it was basic life,  among village people and their guests and we all felt welcome and part of it.


On our way out of the exhibition area we came past a subterranean ‘vitrine’ lit from below containing smaller recreated figurines to represent the site where more than 2000 figures were once found and excavated by the Swedish archaeologists. The idea was developed by Rauf Ersenal and he thinks of doing the same in a bigger scale one day.


He leads us to the blazing kiln, announces that it is time to open it and we follow him in the dark of the night, carefully across the rough field where he breaks open the opening for us to look into the blazing heat escaping from the wide kiln entrance….and there we see – through a curtain of flames – the tall figurines coming to life. What a moment of bliss.


The links below are my reports so far with more pictures.





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