Art and Culture

Çatalköy 1st International Vounos Terracotta Symposium

By Heidi Trautmann …..

Vounous…it sounds mystic…it is mystic, it is the story of the past of Cyprus. The island of Cyprus has always held a great importance for the people living around its circumference, only a stone’s throw away from the coasts in the north and the east and south, Assyrians, Phoenicians, Egyptians and Hittites took to their boats in those days of the Bronze Age, landed, settled, were conquered, started trading, and finally left samples of their culture in the soil of Cyprus, in the caves of the Five Finger Mountains, the Kyrenia mountain range. They buried their dead and gave them goods to have a comfortable journey into the land of the dead.

These goods were one day found, perhaps by a farmer, a shepherd tending his sheep and sold for good money; it attracted the interest of foreign archaeologists and they came and dug them out and took most of it to their countries’ museums. Thus the origin of the Cyprus population could be defined but the places of origin were left empty.

It has been the endeavour of Rauf Ersenal, the initiator and director of the upcoming symposium, from his early days on, to uncover the rich background of Cyprus history and I know that he worked on terracotta pieces himself for years to learn its secrets. I have been following him for some years now and I have the greatest respect for his deep interest and the work he does. The link to the first terracotta symposium in Akdeniz, which was a first of its kind, can be accessed by clicking here

With the help of other enthusiastic ceramists in Cyprus and abroad – altogether there will be about 80 of them joining in this year’s symposium (about 15 from abroad) – Rauf Ersenal has the vision to re-establish the island’s past in building a Bronze Age village with its village life and routine, creating copies of the household items, items that have been taken away from the island, from the places they have been found in originally. For months he went exploring the island to find clay in the valleys they could use to work with and they found beautiful soft clay, clay that was used in those early days.

The place is VOUNOUS, a Bronze Age necropolis near Çatalköy, where tombs were found in the caves nearby. There he and his team have erected bamboo huts for the symposium to work in and a place for visitors to come and see them working. It is exciting. I went there the other day, shortly after I came back from Munich and I found some members of the team working on kilns of the three different Bronze Age periods, where the goods created by the artists are going to be fired. All procedures are in the old way. The clay will be worked in basins with the feet – I think – tools similar to those days will be used, meals will be cooked on clay ovens.

I will not tell you anymore, here is the programme Rauf Ersenal sent me.

The symposium will be held from 1st to 16th September and the artists will work from 11.00 – 19:00 hrs. The first 2-3 days the artists will get accustomed to the place but from then on visitors are welcome to witness the process, learn the various techniques and in two visitors’ huts they will have the opportunity to do some work themselves.  What an adventure.

However the official opening will be on 7th September at 19:00 hrs. Road signs will be erected for visitors coming from either Girne or from the east.

The project is supported by the Çatalköy Belediye;  Rauf Ersenal is the director of the project; Celal Dimililer vice director and Cumhur Deliceirmak and Senol Özdevrim are the art advisors.

I heard there are some surprises planned for the opening but I am not supposed to tell you. I will continue to report.

In the meantime you may, if you have internet, search for some more information on the Bronze Age periods in Cyprus, there are many interesting articles.

To visit Heidi’s website, where there are many interesting articles and information about Cyprus art and culture, click here


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