March 21, 2023

The “Little Girl Aiming High” exhibition of Göral Özkan, the first Turkish Cypriot female artist to receive academic art education abroad, was presented to art lovers at the Art Rooms Gallery in Girne on 5th July 2022.

Born in Nicosia in 1938, Özkan graduated from Victoria Girls’ High School. At the age of 15, she went to Ankara with a scholarship given by the Republic of Türkiye and completed her academic education first at İsmet Paşa Girls’ Institute and then at Ankara Technical Teachers’ Training School for Girls.

She graduated in 1959 and returning to the island became the first Turkish Cypriot female educator and artist and after her teaching years the first woman inspector in this field. Özkan is also among the first artists to realize abstract figurative works in the north of the island.

The exhibition was organised in cooperation with Arkin University of Creative Arts and Design (ARUCAD) and attended by the Minister of Labour and Social Security, Hasan Taçoy; ARUCAD founder, Erbil Arkın; the Rector, Prof. Dr. Asım Vehbi; Head of the Plastic Arts Department, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Eser Keçeci; Göral Özkan’s granddaughter academic, Göral Erinç Yılmaz and Oya Silbery, the Art Rooms Gallery Director. Speeches were made about the artist and a book published with contributions from ARUCAD was presented. The book includes Özkan’s biography including her  socio-cultural studies and works. Assoc. Prof. Eser Keçeci had donated and bequeathed the works to the Özkan family and friends.

The Founder of the University, Erbil Arkın, said he was pleased to bring together the exhibitions of the University’s first graduates and valued artists such as Göral Özkan. “I am proud of ARUCAD enabling such meaningful events to take place shedding light on the art history of Cyprus” he said.

Asım Vehbi: “With this exhibition and the book, Göral Özkan’s art will reach a much wider audience”

University Rector Prof. Dr. Asım Vehbi, said: “We are excited to hold 10 simultaneous exhibitions shaping the cultural and artistic life of our country and the region with such events. There are 7 solo exhibitions in 7 different venues by our first graduates as well as “The Sculptor of Passion, Rodin – A Selection from the Private Collection of Erbil Arkın” in Antalya and Dr. İsmail Gökçe’s (Head of the Photography Department), photography exhibition and this, Göral Özkan’s retrospective exhibition. As ARUCAD it is a great honour for us to support the exhibition of our female artist and the publication of her book. I am sure that this valued artist’s works and contributions to Turkish Cypriot art history will now reach much wider audiences”.

 Minister of Labour and Social Security, Hasan Taçoy expressed his pride of once being a student of Göral Özkan and thanked ARUCAD and the Arkin Group for their contributions in the realisation of the exhibition.

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Eser Keçeci also talked about  the artistic life and published biography of Göral Özkan. She was her real life aunty, affectionately addressed as “lady”.

Göral Özkan: “Artists should find their own unique techniques”

Özkan’s granddaughter, academic Göral Erinç Yılmaz, passed on a message that the artist wanted conveyed to the youth. Yılmaz said, “Young artists should always follow the artistic developments in the country and abroad. They should evaluate social events according to both the acceptance level by society and by their own perception level. Each artist has a unique view of the world and a way of expression. Having understood this, they should develop their own unique techniques”.

Yılmaz ended her speech by thanking everyone who had contributed to the creation of the exhibition and of the book, ARUCAD University and Art Rooms Gallery personnel.

Source (Turkish): Arkin University of Creative Arts and Design (ARUCAD)

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