Gumusluk Academy

Gumusluk Still Life II, detail

For the month of May I am an artist in residence at the Gumusluk Academy, in the village of Gumusluk on the Bodrum peninsula of the Aegean coast of Turkey. The Academy’s complex of buildings occupies a very nice plot of land on a hill overlooking the valley, the sea and several ruined hilltop windmills. Down below us and stretched out along the hillside opposite, are houses, both local and vacation homes, the latter which look like small white wooden blocks (although they’re concrete) perched on the hill.

The Academy buildings are clustered in small blocks. My room is in a complex of three, all of which are situated over the art studios below, with a huge, wonderful deck out front with a beautiful view over the valley. In addition to 13 residential rooms, the Academy also has a kitchen/living room complex with a tiny cinema upstairs, a library/meeting room complex, and a theatre overlooking a large fish pond. The grounds are wonderful, full of lush semi-tropical vegetation and flowers.

Here is a link to the Academy website.

See pictures here, here and here.

My intention while I’m here is to photograph the ruins in the area and to continue working with found object assemblages and installations.

Monday evening I set up a still life ensemble in my room, consisting of two small lamps, two candles (lit), a vase of wildflowers picked from the roadsides here in Gumusluk valley, a shallow dish of seed pods and petrified pomegranates sprinkled with silver glitter, my two mannequin hands, crepe paper ribbons and a necklace of dried eggplants. Tuesday I tried a small outdoor still life tableau, with my small wooden table and chair, a vase of wildflowers, the shallow dish of seed pods and pomegranates, and the hands holding their necklace of dried eggplants.

Also, yesterday and today I have been working on the components of a planned installation. I have been collecting up materials and supplies, including wooden doors, wooden chairs, candles, flowers, pottery, and korek plants and dried stalks. I wandered the hills around the academy, and gathered bamboo-like sticks and plants called Korek. These are very interesting, very large plants, with bamboo-like stalks and large flower-like protrusions that remind me of Queen Ann’s lace, except they’re not white but green. These plants are everywhere on the hills and grow enormously large. I can see their outlines against the sky along several hilltops in the distance. I am in the process of painting them different colours and, later on, I intend to set them up in various locations, along with other items, and photograph them. I have been scouting out locations and am toying with the possibilities of the pond, the disused cistern, and a ruined house on the hill above the academy. I like the idea of using the pond, but at the moment it is quite full of frogs, a water snake and bees buzzing around the perimeter; if I can overcome these obstacles, I will try to use it as a setting.

Gumusluk Still Life I, detail
Gumusluk Still Life I, detail

Gumusluk Still Life I detail hands

The hands in my Gumusluk Still Lives I and II reference Fra Angelico’s 1425-30 fresco in the San Marco convent in Florence. Painted in tempera on the wall of one of the monk’s cells on the upper floor, this fresco is quite striking and very modern in its treatment of the theme. I can remember being very struck by the hovering disembodied hands and spitting face the first time I saw this painting.

Fra Angelico, The Mocking of Christ
Fra Angelico, The Mocking of Christ

The Mocking of Christ by Fra Angelico

See pictures of Still Life I here and II here.