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