Archive | August, 2011

The 8th International Artist Camp, Kariklevi Hotel, Cappadocia ,Turkey, 19th – 29th of June, 2011

12 Aug

View of Cappadocia mountains

This June I was invited to participate in the 8th International Artist Camp at Kariklevi Hotel which is situated amidst the picturesque setting of Cappadocia, one of Turkey’s most popular tourist destinations. The camp is organised annually by Hotel Manager Mr Abdullah Sen. Mr Sen is an avid art admirer and eight years ago decided that his hotel would be a perfect venue to host an international collection of artists, so that they could paint outdoors and gain inspiration from the ancient cave houses and mountain ranges. I must admit that I was astounded by the beauty of the region, the crumbly calcium carbonate rocks appeared like petrified sand dunes and changed colour according to the time of day.

Kariklevi Hotel, Cappadocia Turkey

There were roughly twenty artists invited to the camp and for the first time in my experience I noted that they were predominantly women. Half were Turkish and the other half from all over the globe including Ecuador, Mexico, Croatia, Hungary, Germany and Italy. As with most of these types of events, the intention was that the artists would live and work together for ten days, and during this time exchange their stories, share their artistic processes and discuss the nuances of their cultures. However, I felt that at this particular event this element of cross-cultural interaction was lacking.

The camp organisers were generous, providing luxurious rooms decorated with old Kilims, antique wooden furniture and artwork from the previous camps. Daytime meals were taken at the hotel, and each evening we were driven to a new location, my favourite spot (although the food was not particularly great) was inside one of the old caves that used to be a pigeon-house but was converted into a restaurant. Abdullah even took us out to his private shack set within the fields, and cooked us fish and kepaps, while we drank our Raki and watched the sun sink behind the sorbet pink stones. These were wonderful moments of hospitality.

The issues I had with the camp were related more to the lack of adequate communication between the International guests and the host organisers. This is often part of the excitement and chaos of art camps, each artist is trying to express themselves maybe with a limited grasp of English. Yet, usually the host organisation has staff in place that can effectively speak English or a common language to explain the rules of the event and to clarify any questions. There was only one English interpreter at this camp, and although she had good intentions, I still felt that a lot of our needs were not addressed. Most of the artists would have been happier if we had someone explain at the beginning that there were only two canvas per artist available, the reasons why and also where we could purchase more materials if we wanted to. If this was addressed at the beginning of the camp I am sure the attendants and the organisers would have got along better. For some reason this issue was unresolved through the entirety of the camp, and because things went unsaid or were inaccurately translated, many artists left feeling disappointed.

I always enjoy listening artist talks during workshops because I can learn about their regular arts practice, which may differ to the work they experiment with during the camp.  Unfortunately, this was not integrated into the schedule for the Cappadocia art camp and so I left knowing very little about the artists involved. Usually this would be a chance to break the ice between participants and find common ground to discuss when making their work. In future, I hope that the camp will see this as a vital component of the schedule.

As usual, the ten-day camp only allowed time for three or four days of painting which was interrupted with visits by school groups, or trips to explore the Fairy Chimneys. I actually accepted this part of the camp, I enjoyed having a few days to explore my surroundings and respond gradually to the environment. I know this process is not for everyone, and I could see many artists were frustrated with the interruptions. I think that if you are invited to an art camp, then it should be seen not as a solid amount of time to work on a series, but rather, an opportunity to deviate from your regular process, and stir up new ideas for work. I painted two large paintings (much bigger than my usual work) but also went on regular walks and took photographs, wrote in my journal, and sketched my observations. I know that these recorded impressions of my experiences will emerge in my work over the coming months.

Fairy chimneys, naturally occurring rock formations converted into houses, Cappadocia

Kim Goldsmith, Peephole Cappadocia, acrylic painting

The two paintings I produced were Peephole and Cloud and were meant to be displayed as a diptych since each represents the opposite of the other. Through the Peephole the landscape is calm and idyllic in contrast to coarse foreground of craggy rocks. In Cloud, the chaos and energy of the rock is transferred to the form of the cloud, that seems heavy and disturbed, and which, casts an uncertain shadow across the serene landscape. Each work expresses a sense of ongoing alternation between two internal states of being; calm and stable or unstable and in trauma.

I would say that this camp has very kind hosts, with good intentions, and offers an idyllic setting to gain inspiration for new work. However, if you are an artist looking for a workshop with engaging debates about art, and opportunities to show your work in a professional setting, then I would look for an alternative camp. The exhibition opening seemed to be a promotional event for the hotel, with government officials and hotel owners in attendance rather than any serious connoisseurs of art. This was anti-climatic, because the camp ended without a chance for the artists to properly celebrate the work or share it with the public in an open floor talk, nor did they have an after party in which to bid farewell to their friends. Despite these minor complaints, I have to say that overall, I enjoyed my time immensely at Kariklevi hotel: all of the artists were interesting and easy company, and the landscape was spectacular. I chose to see my time there as a holiday with a bit of painting, and so left very satisfied.

In a further post, I hope to focus on some of the works produced by participating artists.

Kim Goldsmith, Cloud Cappadocia, acrylic painting