Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The French Turkish connection

Thursday Feb 25

Took a walk this morning before breakfast to get my bearings. Saw them setting up the fruit and vegetable market in the square. Passed by the studio and chatted briefly with Eric, a potter near the atelier we were introduced to when we arrived.  My French keeps sliding into Turkish.  There is a sizable Muslim population here. I dropped by a halal store looking for tahini but again found none and the man arranging meats in the glassed counter said he didn't know anywhere I could buy some.  I bought a can of halvah with nuts instead but it's too sweet and dry.  Made a simple breakfast of fruit and yogurt and the walnuts I shelled yesterday. The bread is heavenly here and the fruits from the daily farmers market are fresh and at the peak of ripeness.  I have the last few ends of bread with tapenade and coffee with heated milk.

 My first day in the studio.  I was alone as everyone else still had jet lag and they were still getting their bearings in the new locale.  Having spent the last few weeks as a tourist, I am anxious to get started working.  The studio is a bit airless and cool when the door is closed.  Takes awhile for the clay to dry.  Found a little heater to warm it up.  Made a fat little fertility fetish just to get started.  The other residents are all deeply schooled in pottery and I feel adrift, not really in my element. Then again, not really sure what my element is.  Vallauris also accepts artists for whom ceramics is not their main medium and I am in that category.  My work with clay has been in portraiture and figurative work so I am unfamiliar with a lot of the technical clay talk all around me.

Went by a local museum, Magnelli Municipal Museum, a Ceramic Museum with a special exhibit by the Turkish artist Alev Ebuzziya Siesbye.  She makes bowls.  Just bowls. Like Steinway just makes pianos.  Even with my limited knowledge of technique, it was obvious that these were perfect vessels.  The shapes, the glazes, the design elements were rich but restrained, almost to the point of austerity.   There was also a short video  showing the artist in her studio at every step of the way.  There is a huge poster of Alev joyously tossing a large pot in the air but as the film makes clear, her process is dead serious, as scientific as it is aesthetic.
Tomorrow we are all to meet to do informal presentations of our work.