One of the many things that make Fethiye special is that just when I think I have found out all there is to know about the town, something really wonderful happens.
One of the many things that make Fethiye special is that just when I think I have found out all there is to know about the town, something really wonderful happens,
This time a suggestion from a friend sent me scampering to the Cultural Centre.
This building I have no love for, lacking as it does any aesthetic value or facilities for the disabled despite having been built as recently as 2005 and apart from attending concerts or cultural events, I wince whenever I have to go near it.
That said, I was as pleased as Punch to learn that hidden away in its innermost parts were some small studios where local residents are creating a whole range of arts and crafts of which Fethiye should be rightly proud.
The ceramics studio is a small, well equipped room.
The teacher Sibel, has a group of enthusiastic students who can pay on a monthly basis to attend for as many days as they want. Courses run throughout the year.
In the summer months there are courses for school children.
Jean Evans joined in 2005, shortly after the centre opened and is now enthusiastically working on some tiles depicting whirling Mevlana. “I have always been creative,” she says, “but since retiring and coming to live in Fethiye, coming here is a great way to meet people and learn about new crafts and Turkish culture. I would recommend it to anyone!”
Sitting next to her is Cihan Akman, a spritely septuagenarian has just finished intricately decorating a large, elegant vase. We all admire the result.
The unglazed items are purchased from Kütahya.
These together with special paints are supplied by Sibel’s husband, who is also there to fire up the kiln when it is full.
There is also a potter’s wheel and moulding facilities.
The students produce articles based on traditional designs.
Across the corridor is the fine art studio where students like Carmen Şahiner, originally from Spain, are painting intricate miniatures with tiny brushes.
She is surrounded by artists with different ideas; some large surreal paintings dominate the room.
Their teacher helps when necessary. The atmosphere is quietly industrious and the results are astounding.
Down the precipitous stairs I discover some more studios that are also accessible from the street.
Dr Coşkun Keskin is surrounded by delicately hand-blown glass ornaments: all his own work but he is always happy to run a course for students curious about this craft. The fragility of the pieces, glittering jewel-like in the sunshine, makes this a tempting idea!
Next to him is Meryem Balık夣305; and her carpet workshop.
She studied carpet and kilim weaving at university and has had several British and German students.
The results of this demanding skill decorate the walls and she is only too pleased to discuss the different techniques, patterns and traditions.
The science of the dyes used in carpets makes a fascinating topic and she happily chats away whilst weaving a traditional Kaya rug.
Finally, I find a mysterious studio…. mysterious because until now I knew nothing about the art of Ebru or marbling.
The accoutrements of this ancient craft that flourished during the Ottoman period are intriguing.
Horse hair brushes, oxgall (size), kitre (a kind of gum) and pigments drawn from natural elements and minerals are neatly lined up behind a galvanised steel tray which has something in it that looks like water.
I watch, entranced by the teacher, Esin Sükan’s skill.
A drop of this and a splash of that; sadly, this craft is dying out in Turkey.
It certainly isn’t something that can be learnt quickly but it is something that can open up a whole new world of unique swirling patterns.
She draws the paper out of the tray revealing a rich mono-print. I am hooked!
It has been a joy to find this creative beehive of creativity.
I am ashamed that I took the Cultural Centre at its ugly face value and didn’t investigate it before.
This is my loss. Now I shall have to confront another dilemma; which craft shall I attempt first.