At a recent festival, I came across some Turkish “clapping spoons.” Not only were the spoons beautiful, but they were unique in that they weren’t for eating or simply for decoration, they were a percussion instrument traditionally used in Turkish culture.
Turkish art has been on the rise since the 80’s, but recent factors like efforts to become part of the European Union, and a rise in independent collectors who have made contemporary art trendy, caused a boom in the contemporary art scene.
Although Turkey seems like it would draw mainly on Asian and Middle Eastern influences, Turkish contemporary art actually draws more on European influences rather than Middle Eastern.
“Turkish contemporary art definitely deals with issues of the day, be it Turkish domestic issues such as Turkey’s problems with the PKK, Turkey’s problem with the EU, problems of urbanization, [or] Turkey’s relationship with Europe,” said Isabella Içöz, an adviser to Sotheby’s on Turkish contemporary art. “But then there are more general issues that the artists cover, such as the war on terror, gender issues, the role of women, [and] gay rights.”
The influence of Europe is not new to Turkish art. Even traditional art drew on both Eastern traditionalism and Western secularism because of its location between Europe and Asia. And while contemporary art is on the rise in Turkey, there is still a place for traditional art and its old-world beauty that adds elegance to interior decor.
In addition to Oriental rugs, handmade lace and tiny and elegant China cups, which were mentioned in the above article, traditional elements of Turkish culture can be used differently than they originally were, which further puts a modern spin on traditional art.
The clapping spoons, which really only seem to be used as instruments in Turkey, can be used to add a strong cultural element to interior decor. Hung on a wall they could add spice and liveliness to a kitchen, and placed among an eclectic collection of items on a living room shelf they add earthy culture.
Also, the traditional Turkish technique ebru, which is “a marbling technique using a rectangular bath and special acrylic paints to create a design on water,” can be used to create more contemporary designs but still capture a very old and traditional piece of Turkey.
Perhaps the new style will completely combine the new and old, giving credibility to the contemporary and hip, visual attraction to the traditional.