Art and Culture

The image of Democracy created by sculptor Zehra Şonya


By Heidi Trautmann …. ….

The closest I could get to a simple interpretation for democracy on the internet is….

the belief in freedom and equality between people, or a system of government based on this belief, in which power is either held by elected representatives or directly by the people themselves…

Zehra Şonya’s idea of Democracy is at the moment being created in the Old City of Nicosia in the SOL Atelier. Recently I went to see her and her work there.  It is a most convenient

Lefkosa Mayor Mehmet Harmanci and Zehra Sonya

place for sculpting work, it has the space to accommodate the construction with the scaffold around and to deposit the parts done; and it offers all facilities for her to work here, even through the nights, and there is water and electricity.

It was in May of this year that the Municipality of Lefkoşa entrusted her with the task to complete a statue for Democracy, according to the model she had presented. Zehra Şonya was born in 1972 in Limassol and she studied sculpture at the Faculty of Fine Arts at the Hacettepe University in Ankara. I had an interview with her in 2006 which was published in Cyprus Today and is also included in my book ‘Art and Creativity in North Cyprus, Volume I’. Since that time I have been following her in her many activities as a sculptor, as President of EMAA (European Mediterranean Art Association), as coordinator, creator of many art activities and international workshops and exhibitions, and finally as archivist in the project Visual Arts Archive of EMU, Eastern Mediterranean University and as teacher at the same university. She is a hard worker and we all admire her energy to carry her projects through with great care and always with good humour; for many artists, especially the young ones, she is a role model. Now, on top of all her work in the many diverse fields, she spends her nights working on the statue; she has six months, already two are spent and she hopes to finish it within the time limit.

At the moment she works on the second half of the statue, i.e. she applies clay onto the infrastructure of wood and metal. The first half is waiting, laid out in individual pieces of cement on the floor of the Atelier for further processing.

What gave her the idea to give ‘democracy’ a human form cut in half, I was asking her. “Democracy can never be an entity, just as man and woman can never be a complete entity, they will always be two halves, equal halves, halves with equal rights to democracy.”

And Society, are the two halves representing society? There is a gap between the two halves, what is the meaning of the gap in between, I was asking.

“It means that whoever is standing in the midst of it, whoever acts in the name of the two parts, has to be aware of the equality of these two parts, whatever their background is, it means that both parts have to be treated with respect and impartiality.”

Well said, I thought, and we certainly do need such a 4m high manifestation to be reminded of the basic values of democracy.

There will be some more months of hard work to finish the statue. Some processes towards the finale Zehra cannot do all alone, she needs the help of friends, and they will come, just as she has never hesitated to come to the assistance of others when needed.

I wish her courage and the energy she will need to finish this very demanding project.