So, WHAT'S Katie up to???

Monday, October 18, 2010

Kapadokyan Tourist.....

This 9-minute video gives a very good overview of Cappadocia (Kapadokya), where I have been workig the last couple of months. It's in Turkish, with English subtitles. The translation is a bit odd, but quite typically Turkish. Hope you enjoy it!

I tried to load the video directly onto my blog, but have finally given up, after several hours of monkeying around.......

All for today

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Vacation with André

After a 5 hour bus ride from Avanos to Mersin, and another 1.5 hours on the local bus, we arrived at Mesut Pansiyon, at Akkum Plaj. A lovely little spot at a tiny little sandy beach, just around the corner from the large tourist beach. At this time of year, though, all the beaches are pretty empty. The northern sun-seeking tourists have not yet arrived, and the Turkish tourists have all gone back to work after their summer holidays.

We FINALLY got warm! Our long hot day of walking the coast was nicely capped off by a tea at one of the many beach-side bars in the town.

The little town of Akkum boasts 3 castle-style fortresses, two of which are built right out on the water in the bay.

After our single day in the heat, the thunderstorms moved in, as they did all over Turkey. So we headed inland next morning to the hotsprings restort town of Kozakli. The town is tiny. Farming is definitely the major occupation in this flat, dryish region. Lots of wheat fields to supply the many flour mills down on the coast.

There are at least a dozen 3, 4, & 5 star hotels outside the town servicing the many visitors to the mineral hotsprings (which also supply heat for vegetable greenhouses nearby). Most of our hotel guests were Turkish, and, to my surprise, most women were in conservative Muslim dress. This made sense, however, when I learned that the owner of our particular hotel is a conservative Muslim man who lives in Mecca. So conservative folks seeking a place they'll feel comfortable are inclined to choose this hotel. I did feel a little out of place in my (even by western standards) unusual attire. I felt a little like the mealtime entertainment.

Luxuriously appointed, we actually found the service in our 5 star hotel to be only average. Although breakfast, dinner, and pool use are covered in the overnight fee, we were disappointed to discover extra charges for things like the tea and water that usually accompany any Turkish meal. The rooms were very luxe, but our jaccuzi tub, though very fancy, didn't even have one of those little bars of soap with it! Over the years, though, I've discovered that the Turkish view of 'service' is not the same as the North American view.

And speaking of views, although the lands around Kozakli are very flat, and (to one from the Coast of BC) pretty uninspiring, the sunset view from our 5th floor room was superb.

Three days of lounging, swimming, eating, and soaking our aches away in the mineral springs proved to be just what we needed. And we returned the 80 kilometres to Avanos in a tiny local bus.

The day after we returned to Cappadocia was André's 54th birthday. So, of course, we had to celebrate. What better start to the day than a hotair balloon ride at dawn over the stunning Cappadocian countryside?

Sunrise was less than impressive, and it rained a little. But that did nothing to dampen either our spirits or the breathtaking experience. The soft, quiet wash of the breeze is broken only by the periodic whoosh of the hot gas flame. Our 2 hour flight was controlled by our expert pilot as we soared close to the treetops and dipped deep into the colourful valleys of this amazing landscape.

And, at the end of the trip, a champagne & cherry juice spritzer, chocolate cake, and a toast to the Birthday Boy!

A little Turkish dancing in the studio,

And, of course, the cake -- a delicious hazelnut torte decorated with caramel sauce. After the one special piece was cut for André, the cake was devoured 'a la Turque', which simply means that everyone grabs a fork and digs in. We managed to destroy this work of art in very short order. & there is something very friendly and warm about everyone eating from the same plate. I think kids at home would LOVE this way of eating birthday cake! And cleanup is a breeze, since the whole table is covered with newspaper beforehand. One simply rolls up the remnants of the meal in the paper and makes it disappear! In this case, there were not many remnants; and the newspaper went straight into the woodstove. I think I like this style of housecleaning!

All for today. Back to a little clay work this afternoon. So, who knows what pix will show up here in the nst few days?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Opening Reception

Yes, it was quite a night! About 40 people attended the Opening Reception -- not bad for an unknown foreign artist.....

Above, Istasyon Sanat Galerie owner Emel Düzenli with one of her hard-working art student helpers.

A proud moment for both Katie and Avanos artist Erdogan Güleç, who was largely responsible for this whole affair in the first place.

Gibsons ceramic artist Pat Forst came all the way from Canada with her husband Bill! Actually, they are on tour throughout Europe this year. But it sounds impressive, doesn't it? And it was really a treat to have them there. Bill kindly wrote an article/review of the show, which, together with a photo, was published in the October 8, 2010 edition of the Coast Reporter (purveyor of all that is newsworthy to Sunshine Coast residents......) Many thanks to them for their support.

A happy group, including a couple of new Istanbul friends, as well as my long-suffering and very supportive husband, André, Bill Forst, and Seda Üngün, an Istanbul art teacher for whom I'll be doing a clay workshop before I return to Canada.

The party spilled outside into the warm autumn evening on this tiny little pedestrian-friendly sidestreet off Istanbul's prestigious Istiklal Caddesi, where Turkish & foreign shoppers browse the designer shops and boutiques. In this photo, to Katie's right, are Turkish pop icon Edip Akbayram and his wife, Ayten. They are avid supporters of the arts, and have become friends over the ten years I've been working in Avanos, where they have a summer home in a beautifully restored ancient stone house.

Live music was a pleasant surprise, and a welcome addition to the festivities.

Talking to the local press.... "Why do you do what you do?" .... hmmm .... "Because I can't help myself?"

The artist with the exhibition's title piece, "Sevgiler". You can see I was having a LOT of fun!

Everyone's favourite piece, the large "Avanos" tryptic. And this started out as a figurative show..... Maybe Paula o'Brien is right: maybe abstracts and landscapes really are more popular than figurative work.

A celebratory dinner in the nearby seaside town of Tuzla, with the most fabulous array of food, much of which came from the adjoining family garden.

So, yes, I would say "a good time was had by all", and the event was a success. Sales? Well, we have still about 3 weeks until closing, and I really have no idea what's sold. I'm almost afraid to ask................

Stay tuned in a few days for a few pics of my seaside & spa holiday with André -- well deserved by both of us!

All for today.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Preview, final part

Today's photos are the last of the Exhibition preview, which of course is no longer a preview, since the opening was last Friday evening. However, time & circumstances being what they have been, I'm only just getting to it today.

The above panel, "Sari Uçurtma", or "The Yellow Kite", began as "Kite Girl" -- a photograph which my husband André sent me while he was working in Peru. Peru, Turkey, Canada -- anywhere children play -- their unbridled love of life shines through.

"Küçük Mavi Cami", "Little Blue Mosque", perhaps as opposed to the BIG 'Blue Mosque' -- the famous one in Istanbul. However, in Turkish, the Blue Mosque is referred to as "Sultanahmet", since that is the name of the Sultan by whom it was commissioned several hundered years ago. This little gem just popped up out of my head one day.....

"Öpücük", "The Kiss", is a little less successful than I had hoped, although it works as a piece on its own. The intent was to convey the sensual softness of the woman's skin by the softness of the man's kiss upon it. It hasn't quite arrived at that point yet. This piece must "stew" a bit more in my mind before its next iteration.

"Mektup", "The Letter", whatever its message, is not a cause for celebration. Could it be a 'dear jane'? Perhaps a loved one has died? Or maybe a difficult decision looms.......

The "Avanos #2" tryptic is so much more stunning than this photo conveys. By far the favourite of exhibition goers so far, completing it has sown a seed for further landscape abstracts.

So ends the 'preview' of the "Sevgiler" exhibition. I am happy with the work. I learned much about my materials, my methods, and about myself. Merely having completed such a body of work in the short space 0f 6 weeks, far from home, in a very different work environment, with vastly different materials and available services, and myriad glitches appearing every day, I feel an incredible sense of accomplishment and pride. That the pieces are satisfying as well is a great bonus that makes me smile!!

Stay tuned for photos of the Opening Reception. It may be a day or two. André and I are off for a few days' holiday on the Mediterranean coast to the south.

All for today.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Preview, Part 3

I like the fluid motion in this Dancer abstract. It just makes me want to get up and move.

The colours in this small Cappadocia landscape took me by complete surprise. It's chemistry at its finest, with the iron, copper, manganese, salts, and ammonia all playing together with beautiful results.

Spending time clambering round in the Cappadocian rocks, one is struck by the interrelationship of the natural landscape with prehistoric, Hittite, Selcuk, Christian, and Islamic influences -- several of which are represented in this small panel.

Ah!! The Hamam! The sensuous caress of warm fragrant water. Soothing aching bones & tired muscles, replenishing the skin, rejuvenating the spirit. The tender, loving care each of us needs.

"Mavi Havlu", "The Blue Towel", for after the hamam, or any time. There's no reason it's blue. Just because I wanted it to be.

The piece is intended to convey not only the woman's body, but her love for it. More than just acceptance. Definitely not resignation. Not really pride, either (though she probably walks proudly). It's the kind of understanding and enjoyment of the body, and all it can do and convey, that makes one want to care for it well and treat it with tenderness. To love it.

Part 4 of the show preview tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Preview, part 2

Oh, that Cappadocian landscape. There really is no other like it anywhere in the world. This small panel, "Cappadocia #1", is one of four small pieces depicting various elements of this landscape that moves me so much.
"Balikçil", literally, means "fisher", which is, of course, what herons do best. There aren't any herons right around Avanos, since there aren't any marshes. The river is probably too fast flowing to be very attractive to any wading birds. There are, however, within an hour's drive, some beautiful marshlands (very salty) with abundant birdlife and other swamp-dwelling critters. Besides.... I just like the shape of herons.

"Benimle Dans" means "Dance With Me", which pretty much tells it all for this one.

"Dansöz" means Dancer. This little abstracted dancer is one of 6 similar pieces that play with shape, texture & relief. The colour is really only intended to emphasize the texture of the various spaces.

There's a lot of dancing going on in this post......
"Kadinlarin Irmakta Banyosu" is called "Bathing Ladies" in English. The actual translation from Turkish would be "ladies bathing in the river". When the piece was first done, another Avanos potter commented that he could remember when, as a child, he watched as Avanos women did laundry down at the edge of the Kizilirmak (whose waters were then clean enough to drink). When the washing was done, they stripped off their own clothes and bathed in the clear waters.

Exhibition preview part 3 tomorrow.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Exhibit Preview

I've decided to post these in no particular order, which could appear disorganized; but I figured it would be more interesting to see landscapes interspersed with figures and other abstracts, rather than each genre's pieces all lumped together.
The small tryptic above is entitled "Kizilirmak", which is of course the Red River that runs through Avanos where I am working.

It seems fitting to begin this process with the Artist's Statement that goes with the exhibit. As you will see, this whole process has been a very emotional one for me, and one from which I have learned and grown a great deal. Of course, It's also been fun, in a hard-working & stressful kind of way!

Sevgiler, as the closing of a letter between friends or lovers, can be roughly translated into English as With Love. This, then, is the genesis of these pieces.

The tenderness of a kiss; the warmth of a lovers’ embrace; the love of a mother for her child; the lover’s willingness to sacrifice; the ache of a broken heart; the sensuous pleasure of a warm bath; the wondrous perfection of the human form; a child’s unabashed love of life; the love of a special place – so many loves: so many ways of showing and feeling love. These works celebrate the love we have for ourselves, for each other, for special places, for moving, and for life.

Created with love, in a very special place, each piece conveys love in some way. Collectively, the work asks each of us to think of what we love in our lives.

This exhibition is made possible by the kindness and generosity of my friend, Avanos artist, Erdogan Güleç, and by the unending love and support of my husband, André Sobolewski. To both of them, I say, thank you, and


"Avanos" #1. A small panel depicting my 'home away from home', with its houses nestled (or rather crammed) onto, below, and into the hillside.

"Benim Kalp", which translates to "My Heart", and symbolizes the sacrifices one is prepared to make for the love of another.

"Anne & Bebek", "Mother & Child. Is there any love more powerful or enduring?

And this, as they say, is where it all began. This is in fact the second (& much larger) iteration of "Love in Ruins", which is the piece that originally secured for me the exhibition in Istanbul. The lovers are lying amongst the ancient ruins that abound in this part of the world. But their love is apparently far from 'in ruins'. The double meaning is lost in Turkish translation. So this piece became the literal, as well as the figurative, symbol for the show, and is appropriately entitled, "Sevgiler".

More tomorrow.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Studio #12

The studio work is finally done!! This "Little Blue Mosque" is one of about 15 small panels ready for the show. All together, there are 27 pieces of various sizes.

"The Blue Towel" is one of the mid-sized figurative pieces that form the core of the exhibit. To begin with, all the pieces were figurative; but some landscapes crept in over time, and I like them a lot. (pics to follow tomorrow)

The work is finally done. The panels are ready to be shipped up to Istanbul on Sunday. I've finally reached the end of the 17-hour days, the 24/7 thinking of new designs, new techniques, new possibilities, and new ways around myriad obstacles that popped up daily. I've tapped into my creative energy in many new ways, tested my patience, amazed myself with my resourcefulness and adaptability, and gained new skills and confidence. All that remains is to put the work out there and see what happens. I'm feeling a little lost at the moment. Haven't done or thought about anything except studio work for the past 6 weeks.

Over the next couple of days, I'll post a little preview of the show, for those of you unfortunates out there who are unable to make the Reception next Friday night.........

All for today.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Studio #11

Peppers hang all over town these past couple of weeks. At the Friday market, the air around the red pepper vendors is heavy with the pungent aroma of slightly over-ripe fruit. Strings of red & yellow & green peppers in all shapes and sizes hang in windows, from lamp posts, on clotheslines, on tree branches -- anywhere available. The dried peppers, and stuffed pickled ones of the familiar large red variety we know so well, are a winter staple here, where the temperature hangs below freezing for much of the time between November and March.

The first set of panels is fired, assembled, and sealed. In these photos, they don't look too much different than they did before firing. But there is in fact a big difference in the clay colour. The terracotta fairly sings with energy, and contrasts nicely with the black outlines & highlights.

A lot of unseen work went into these first panels, since I had to "fix" the blue accents after the pieces were fired. (All the blue fired to black.) It was a somewhat tedious process that took the better part of an entire day. But I'm happy with the results.

The small abstract panels on which I "fixed" the colours looked pretty horrid at first. But, with a little (a lot, actually) brushing to remove unwanted oxidation, they turned out pretty much as I had originally hoped they would. So, one set of pieces saved from disaster. Whew!

Saturday was spent cutting out the backing wood, and mounting the tiles onto it with silicone. It's not what is generally used here; but I'm used to it, I like the wiggle-room it gives during the mounting process, and it remains flexible when dry. These backing pieces are not very thick, so I was a bit concerned that bending of the back could cause cracking of the panels or lifting of the tiles if a hard glue was used.

After the tiles were mounted on the boards and dried overnight, I sealed them, since they aren't glazed. At home, I would use a sealant designed for stone floors. Here, I used what everyone else uses. It's called "Lef Lef", and it's actually for shoes! Why anyone would want shoes with a shiny plastic-y finish is beyond me; but, it works great for the clay. It's non-toxic, the shine-level is easily adjusted with water, and it gives a very satisfactory finish when dry.

More pics tomorrow. All for today.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Studio #10

Yesterday morning, I had breakfast with my friend Serife. As I said, she lives at the very top of the town, and has a fabulous view. I'm having my morning tea in the hammock. Her garden is rudimentary, and looks pretty sad by Sunshine Coast standards. Every tree and plant needs a well around it to hold the water it's given. And typical gardening tools include a pick-axe to break up the rock-hard clay soil. Composting is not common here, so there isn't much organic matter around to add to the soil. Kitchen scraps and compostables go to the chickens or the neighbourhood cats & dogs.

But, considering the harsh conditions, Serife does a pretty good job. These aubergines will soon be ready for picking. She also grows sweet and hot peppers, summer & winter squash, tomatoes, & herbs, with miscellaneous flowers sprinkled throughout. There are fruit trees (apples, apricots, and mulberries), grape vines, and nut trees. This unusually hot and dry summer has apparently taken its toll on the veggy crop.

I see this lady every day on my way to the market. She spends a lot of time sitting outside her house talking to friends and neighbours. & she loves to pose for pictures!

This crew lives just up around the corner from the studio. They come every day to ask "Uncle Erdogan" for clay to play with. Most times there isn't any for them. But occasionally he gives them each a small ball to work with. Sometimes they bring their work back to the studio for him to fire, which he always does, with great care.

This triptic is unfortunately a little hard to see. Each part is about 12" square. It is my impression of Avanos -- houses all higglty pigglty, tucked against the hillside at every imaginable angle, caves & ruins sprinkled here and there, all against the backdrop of rugged red clay mesas and mountains, with the Kirzilirmak (Red River) running in front.

I've finished building my last panel today, and will stain it tomorrow morning. The wood arrives tomorrow for the panel backings, and we begin the process of mounting the pieces. In a few days we'll fire the rest of the work, and complete the mounting. All the panels will be sealed to protect them, since they aren't glazed. Then, we'll ship them up to Istanbul for the opening on October 1st.

All for today.