By Margaret Sheard …..

Opening ceremony of the 1st Catalkoy Vounous Terracotta Symposium on 7th September 2017 by President Mustafa Akıncı.

We had visited Vounous prior to the official opening ceremony to meet up with Rauf Ersenal and to enable us to have a quiet look at the site which contained many straw huts which had been constructed for the ateliers during the symposium, which will be open until 16th September.

We visited the people who were busy working on their clay models, all very different and unique.  Everything seemed very relaxed and the artists were very engrossed in their individual designs.

Rauf told us that the following day they would be welcoming artists from Russia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, South Cyprus, and Turkey to join with the Turkish Cypriots who were already there.  He was also honoured with the attendance of Japanese artist, Masakazu Kusakabe, who will be giving a talk on the 11th September about the Japanese history of ceramics.    We also sat with Erman Salih who had come over from Australia and we spent a long time talking to him.  Professor Dr Zeka Mazhar, an Associate Professor at Middle East University, also spent some time with us.  We found everyone so passionate about this wonderful event.

The official opening of the Symposium was by President Akıncı on Thursday 7th September and so we made another visit to be there for this grand occasion.    As always there are many familiar faces attending this type of event and we were pleased to be able to say hello to Heidi Trautmann, Ayşe Oztoprak who was helping out at the event, Ziya Nasifoğlu from Girne Municipality, MP Zeki Çeler, Oya Kutsal, Pearl Mitchell from the Anglo Turkish Association (ATA), amongst others.

Picture courtesy of Celal Dimililer

We had arrived early so there was time to again look at how the artists were progressing.   Gradually more and more people were arriving, including Çatalköy Mayor, Mehmet Hulusioğlu,  and Girne Mayor, Nidai Gűngördű, and by the time the President and First Lady arrived, there was a huge gathering of people.

President Mustafa Akıncı and First Lady Meral Akıncı arrive for the opening ceremony

The opening was in Turkish and English and Idil Akcal, a teacher at Necat British College, gave the following welcome in English:

Honoured President, Dear Guests, welcome to the First International Vounous Terracotta Symposium.

During the year 1930, the Kyrenia police identified a number of objects discovered through illegal diggings.  These objects were taken to the Archeology Museum in Nicosia and examined by an archaeologist named Dick Aius.   He identified them to be from the period BC2300-2800, 5,000 years before the Bronze Age.  He started the first official diggings in this area and the objects discovered here showed that the people who lived here were from a different culture.

In 1933, an Australian archaeologist couple, the Stewards, found that the people of Vounous were from Anatolia and possessed a very different culture.

The objects previously found here are now on display at the Louvre Museum in Paris, the British Museum in London and the Metropolitan Museum in New York.

Our aim is to create the same objects as the stolen objects, from the same soil using the original techniques and baking methods.  We wish to win them back for the village and for tourism.

We thank you for joining us for this special event at Vounous.

Rauf Ersenal commenced the opening ceremony by welcoming everyone and this was followed by the welcome in Turkish and English.  The Mayor of Çatalköy, Mehmet Hulusioğlu, then gave his speech and this was followed by President Akıncı who spoke to the many people who had attended this wonderful event of Cypriot history and culture.

It was now getting dusk and lights started to appear around the village.   The event would be continuing for many hours with traditional entertainment and we were unfortunately not able to stay to see all of this but we have included some pictures, courtesy of Celal Dimililer from which our readers can see what a wonderful opening event it was.

Picture courtesy of Celal Dimililer

The symposium will be running until the 16th September, so it is well worth a visit.  As there will be various events away from the village for the visiting artists, it is advisable to see the programme by clicking here.

See below a slideshow of the work which is currently going on in the village.

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