So, WHAT'S Katie up to???

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Kybele - Mother of All Things

The first view I had of the Kybele figure was in Ankara's Museum of Anatolian Civilizations. She's a very impressive figure: matronly, regal, voluptuous, seated on her throne which is flanked by lions. An 8-thousand year old ceramic embodiment of all things powerful, in feminine form. No wonder she is omnipresent in Anatolian art & culture.

Erdogan Güleç's reproduction is of the classic Kybele on display in the Ankara museum.

I think I promised a view from the rear.... undoubtedly, in my humble opinion, her best side.....

Gotta love that bum! & those arms! And from her pose on her throne, you just know that she knows she's the Queen. There' nothing tentative or unsure about her. She knows who she is, and she's great.

Of course, there are many renditions of Kybele. Several ancient ones have been unearthed in various locations throughout the Anatolian Plateau (the high central plateau that covers much of western & central Turkey) and other areas further to the south & east.
Whatever her poses, she has that ample, regal, confident air about her.

Kybele's image is not to be found in Ottoman art. She is from a time long before Islam made its mark on Asia & Europe. She does, however, find her way into images and sculptures, and even every-day pottery from regions like Cappadocia, where people proudly retain their attachment to their Hittite (& earlier) roots.

She is often stylized almost beyond recognition. But something identifies her: her voluptuous hips, her proud demeanour, her nurturing breasts, or perhaps just the proximity of the animals over whom she reigns.

So now, I'm thinking of what Kybele would look like where I live. Surely her presence can be felt. Aside from her more obvious feminine capacity of reproduction, and her ample & shapely figure, what does she look like on our North American West Coast?  There are no lions, of course: so those are out. Perhaps eagles? Bears? Orcas? Or some more docile or less majestic creatures? And what about the trees?

One thing I am feeling these days is that, for all her confidence, Kybele would not be very proud of us. We have not been very careful custodians of her legacy. So for now, the Kybele figures growing in clay from my hands seem to all have their heads bowed in sadness, or turned quizzically to the side.

That's all for today.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Turkey, 2012: The adventure continues

September 6, 2012 saw me winging my way from Vancouver towards Istanbul, where I arrived September 7th. I expected to take the comfy night train from Istanbul to Ankara before a short bus ride to my final destination of Avanos, in Turkey's beautiful Cappadocia region.

Taking me from Europe to Asia, still within Greater Istanbul, was a ferry just like the one pictured.
Dozens of these foot-passenger ferries ply these waters daily, along with several car ferries, carrying folks between various city points.  Driving between these points would take at least 10 times longer on average. The ferries share the waters with 200+ passenger tour boats, ocean cruise ships, freighters, coast guard cutters, tugs, deep-sea longliner fishing/packing ships, and tiny wooden dories skippered by single fishermen. How everyone manages to miss hitting each other is a marvelous thing!

The ferry docks are primitive by BC Ferries standards. Some have been recently upgraded for more orderly boarding/disembarking. But most are like this one, with primitive gangplanks hauled into place as the boat touches the wharf.
This station, Hydarpasha, is particularly appealing to me, its exterior being decorated with the lively coloured Ottoman tiles for which the Istanbul region is famous.

Upon arriving at the train station behind the ferry dock, I was surprised to learn that my comfy berth on the night train was not possible. Apparently the train is discontinued for two years while the tracks are upgraded to accommodate faster trains. Lesson #187: Always check the details for every leg of your journey before leaving home!

After a challenging hour finding the street with the various bus-line offices (In Turkey, as in much of the older world, all vendors of a similar type are gathered either on the same street, or in very small little clusters in a particular neighbourhood), I bought my ticket & prepared for the 12-hour overnight bus journey to Avanos. Not exactly a private berth with porter service......

Arriving the next morning in Avanos, I enjoyed the brilliance of the September sunshine while visiting a few old friends and making my way very slowly to the studio of Bei Kaya (Cave Man), my potter friend Erdogan Güleç.

That day's project was the finishing of some wrought-iron stands to hold round-bottomed pots.
Nothing like sipping tea with the left hand while working with the blow-torch in the other! Not to mention the newspapers & other flammables within inches of the flame.  Never mind. When the paper did catch fire once, the welder just stamped it out with his shoe & continued on working. No respirator or mask either; but at least he's working outdoors....

Reigning supreme over the atölye (studio/atellier/workshop) this year is Erdogan's sculpture of the Kebele -- the goddess of all things to do with nature & fertility & protection & family & the earth. In short, as I like to call her, "the Queen of everything"!
The original of this sculpture sits on a pedestal under a plexiglass cover in Ankara's National Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, where Turkey's history is chronicled, from pre-Neanderthal times, through the Hittite period, Assyrian, Mongolian, Greek, Roman & various other occupations, through Ottoman days, to the present. Erdogan's Kebele replica stands (sits) at just over two feet high, is made of local white clay, and is surprisingly lightweight for her size. And if you think her front is voluptuous, you should see her absolutely wonderful rear!

All for now. The adventure continues as I get down to work in the atölye.......