Every piece of art created by Nuray Ada has a sincerity drawing you in. For this reason, it’s inevitable for her to one of the divine figures of the art of ceramic. For example, whenever I take a work of hers in my hand, I enjoy it very much. I feel special! Sometimes even watching it gives me joy. I’ve always wondered the secret of this. Thus it was important to meet Nuray Ada. If you ask “Did you find the answer?” yes, I did. I think you also will after reading my interview with her. Talking to Nuray Ada is very pleasant, as she’s an impressive woman with her attitude and soul. Her stance peculiar to those who go after what they believe affects you immediately. Perhaps this is why she says, “I came here by being tactless”. Plainness is a prerequisite in her works; nothing she’s not satisfied with leaves her workshop. And her resilience in this regard grows day by day! She likes to walk on empty streets at quiet hours of Istanbul. So you can encounter her at Gülhane Park at a time it’s deserted. Here’s what she had to say…
-Ceramic is a pursuit molded with the soul and enriched with labor and experience. How did it ooze into your life? How did you come to these days?
In my early twenties, while I was living abroad, I started to deal with ceramics as a hobby. In those years, it was not as widespread in Turkey. It was quite troublesome to acquire a furnace, to find glaze and materials. I used to work in workshop in difficult conditions, and the most appealing thing was using the lathe. I can’t repay my debt to master Hasan from Menemen, from whom I took me a course and learned the basics of lathe teaching. In time, I bought my own furnace, and I came to today by being tactless!
-You have a full life. How are your life experiences, things that happened to you reflected in your works?
At first, you struggle with the material, so it takes time to find your own style. As my lifestyle was shaped, “plainness” became the prerequisite in my output. Very rarely does a color or shape leave my workshop. In this sense, my resilience has grown fairly in recent years.
-I think you opened your first workshop in 1985. Now, the ground floor of your house is your workshop. I guess you like this closeness?
I’m quite fortunate in this respect. My first workshop was within a two-thousand square-meter garden. They were the most clumsy but happiest years of my career among citrus fruit trees. For the last 18 years, my house and my workshop are in the same building at Tünel, Beyoğlu. Nevertheless, I’m very lucky, because if it weren’t for that, there was no way I could manage increasing load of the workshop. I start working early in the morning, and absolutely give a break in the afternoon. Afterwards, I get down to the workshop again and continue to work. In this way, my day passes between the two floors.
-At one stage, you also gave lathe classes for a long time. Who attended these? What did they get from you? What did you give them?
I gave classes for as long as 15 years. My first student was a student at the German School of Istanbul. Last year, he visited my workshop with his students. We opened a workshop for the foundation with Ali Nesin, and I also gave courses to children there. I had students from all walks of life, bankers, general managers, lawyers, architects… Three very talented artists (Yasha Butler, Gamze Eskinazi, and Tulya Madra) met mud for the first time in my workshop. By this means, I made very valuable friends.
WHITE, GREY, AND SMOKE DO ME GOOD
-Color is very important in your works. How is your world of colors?
I like color in nature; trees, flowers, sea, sky, earth… I’m not very fond of color in my own living space. White, gray and some do me good.
-For instance, red and black in your works affect me very much. What do they correspond to in you?
Red gives energy, while black is resolute.
-Also, all of your works give the impression that they are tailor-made for the viewer.
I’m very pleased if that’s the case.
ALL KINDS OF CALLIGRAPHY INTRIGUES ME
-Your choice of names you apply to your works, your motives and the meaning you ascribe to them… In this sense, how does your creative process work and what do you feed from?
All kinds of calligraphy intrigues me. Chinese, Japanese, Ottoman… I can see them in books, at exhibitions or hung on a wall, in a frame. What I value most of all is visual quality. I can say that the meaning and graphics of the lettering I use have an equal importance.
-You convey messages of peace, beauty and goodness… Which means establishing a spiritual tie with the receiver, I think?
I guess so! For instance, most recently, I found a Jordanian artist’s writing which means „greetings“, and I use it very frequently. Both its meaning is nice, and I’m satisfied with its plainness and appearance on the ceramic. According to information from shops, Malaysia, Germany and USA are the countries they’re sold most. I feel like I’m saying „greetings“ from us to those places.
I LIKE THE DESERTED HOURS OF GÜLHANE PARK
-You like walking very much. Perhaps you think while walking and you rest while walking. Is walking a part of your creation process?
Solitude is a state I need frequently. I also like to change routes every so often while walking, which is easier when one is alone. On the other hand, thinking about goings-on, making plans and looking around and at the people does me good. Especially getting close to the nature refreshes my head (even if it’s not easy).
-How is your walking route in Istanbul?
As I live in the middle of the city, my chances of stepping on soil are slim. Sometimes I grit my teeth and walk to Kabataş, sit at a shore coffee and look at the sea. I like to go to Sultanahmet and walk towards the sea. Especially on Sundays, finding the busiest streets empty always surprises me. Desolate hours of Gülhane Park are incredibly fascinating to me. Back in the day, I used to walk along Bosporus more frequently, but now heavy traffic and lack of time deter me.
I DON’T SETTLE ACCOUNTS WITH MY LIFE MUCH
-Are you in good terms with life? Could you get what you want from it?
I don’t settle accounts with my life much. What makes me “myself” today are my life experiences. There’s an ever-increasing tension in our society. I’m annoyed with rudeness and aesthetic shortcomings; most of all, I worry about the entrapped, desperate mood of youngsters around me.
- And of course Istanbul. We love this city for all its faults. Moreover, Istanbul is indispensable in the hell of optimists. How is your relation with the city?
I’m not from here. In the past, I used to find Beyoğlu reminiscences of my mother very cliché. Markiz Patisserie, strolling with hats, et cetera. Despite this, I follow high pace of the unplanned, fait accompli transformation in my district in recent years with dismay. Demolished movie theaters, conversion of shops to brand stores, failed paving of the street and huge shopping malls are only a few of the changes… Just this morning, I saw that an exceptionally precious, beautiful shop with a historical décor, stairs and mezzanine was converted into a jewelry shop with whiter than white lights!
I APPRECIATE THE WORK OF SAHİ
-You have a boutique working philosophy. However, market conditions are tough and brutal. In this sense, how do you shape your output process?
I’m crazy about my job! Fatigue and so forth are just details. I try to do my best at what is demanded from me, but commercial part of the job is backbreaking. Especially for me who’s not good at money affairs. I can say that I achieved the luxury of choosing customers only in recent years. I usually don’t accept dealings I’m not comfortable with.
-Let’s talk about your collaboration with Sahi. Which products of yours does it include, and will there be others?
I appreciate the work of Sahi. We are astounded at their product choices. They make attentive choices. Other than pieces I stylized and adapted the art of calligraphy, which I’ve been fond of for years, we also produce products in which we use simplified forms traditional calligraphy. I hope that we’ll try different innovations that are in demand in time.
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