METİN ERTÜRK x ART UNLIMITED

Anyone can produce with clay, anyone can produce bowls on a lathe, but in order to qualify it as a craft, there needs to be continuity, clean workmanship and experience to meet the demands. And this is something that only happens over time. There are processes such as apprenticeship, journeyman and mastery. We cannot call every form art. It is important to start from a certain idea and to reflect that idea well with form and technique.

Let’s start by talking about your artistic journey. After completing your education in the ceramics department, you graduated from Uşak University Faculty of Fine Arts, Department of Ceramics in 2015. In 2013, you worked at the Michel François Porcelain workshop in England and received training on workshop pottery. What inspired you to become an artist and how did you start making art and how did you realize it?

My entire academic career, from vocational high school to doctorate, has been on ceramics. When you start the faculty of fine arts, you move towards that path, but I didn’t set out to make art or become an artist. The path brought me here. I just started to describe the events, situations and people that happened to me with the techniques I learned while making ceramics. But if you ask where the inspiration comes from, I can say that I get a lot of support from psychology. As Rollo May said, psychology is the stepchild of creativity.

How does your local culture and environment influence your artistic work? Do the materials and techniques you use in your art find an echo in this network of interaction?

Culture is an important value for me. In the countries I visited, I always focused on their culture. When I returned, I synthesized it with my own culture, questioned what was not, and improved what was. If you want to understand something, looking at the past really shows you the way. I am from Eskisehir and local culture and Anatolian culture is an important value for me, so I use local potter’s clay as a material. I also describe myself as a potter. I cannot deny the craftsmanship at the center of this work. This is one of the reasons why my work stands out so much. Every technique I learn as a craftsman allows me to present the subject I want to tell in a better quality. My introduction to studio pottery in England is one of the biggest reasons for this attitude. With the perspective I gained there, I am now able to make these interpretations.

You teach clay making at Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University. Do you call the forms shaped with clay craft or art? What kind of a bridge is built between your academic side and your artist side?

It’s all about the way you set out to produce a form. You can’t call everything shaped with clay a craft or art. We can call it a production, but for it to be a craft, you need to be a master at it. You need to have the experience and knowledge to solve the problems you encounter during production. Anyone can produce with clay, anyone can produce bowls on a lathe, but in order to qualify it as a craft, there needs to be continuity, clean workmanship and experience to meet the demands. And this is something that only happens over time. There are processes such as apprenticeship, journeyman and mastery. We cannot call every form art. It is important to start from a certain idea and to reflect that idea well with form and technique. In other words, you can make the same form with hand shaping or mold shaping. The mud lathe actually has its own language, its own pleasure (I like to call it the potter’s wheel or the wheel more, but our language is used to the mud lathe). When you learn it, what you want to do takes shape with it. I only go to university to be in touch with the younger generation, to share what I know, but I don’t have any other expectations. Personality-wise, I am not very suitable for academia anyway. But chatting with my professors at the faculty, chatting with students always keeps the mind fresh. I still go to learn. I mean, I am also a student as I continue my PhD education.

The sculptures we saw at Mamut Limited belong to the Darkness series. Aiming to express the emotional states in our inner world that we cannot make sense of this series reinterprets local culture with Terra Sigillata primer inspired by Ancient Greece. Can you tell us the story of this series?

Darkness is a series I produced specially for Mamut Limited. When we met for the exhibition, I was going through an interesting period about myself. It was a process where I encountered the dark aspects of the people around me and myself. I had been working on a series I called Emptiness for many years, referring to the emptiness within us that we cannot make sense of. Every part of the form is closed, and you cannot use (reach) the emptiness inside. I created black surfaces by processing these forms with different firing techniques. It shows the dark sides that these people reflect to themselves or the other side when their interests change or when they face / cannot face their personality disorders. That’s why the name of the series is Darkness.

For you, is producing a successful work about personal satisfaction or recognition from the art world? Why?

For me, personal satisfaction comes before everything and everyone. Of course, the appreciation of the art world flatters one’s ego and even becoming famous can push one to another production process, but in my opinion, what is art and who is an artist is very variable according to time, so it gives more pleasure to produce inside instead of producing according to the outside.

How do you balance the artistic and technical aspects of photography to achieve the results you want?

When I take photos of my works, I try to create a frame that fits the story. I focus the light and shadow according to the point I want to emphasize. Sometimes I create completely different stories using forms, then photography is already a work in itself. The form I make turns into a form that only supports the story of the photograph.

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