Elele Magazine

Olca Tansuk Interview of Elele Magazine published in 2008

Reflections from the image to the object itself

For Olça Tansuk, mirrors shed light to a symbolic reality, just as in the case of mosaics: ‘In fact, each reflection serves as an unmatched mirror showing us ourselves—until all images understand their true self…’

Dilek Dinçer

Mirrors where she uses glass mosaics and the sanding technique to create her unique illustrations transform the space they are placed in into a totally different atmosphere. In addition to designing, she organises music and festivals and individual and mixed exhibitions. She also realises creative workshops for children and adults. Tansuk also teaches art focusing on glass techniques. We talked to her about her art and life…

Mosaic is a value we face in all forms in life. It is a formation where each single piece represents the whole.

‘The oldest known mosaics were made with pebbles in Anatolia. Glass mosaics extend from ancient Greece to the Byzantine era. In Islamic culture, however, we see it in tile decorations. I think my style is more predominantly a Greek style’.

You have created works in the area of lighting, decoration, tile mosaics and painting as well as many other areas of art. Where does Olça Tansuk position herself more closely among all these areas or does she complement herself with all of them?

 I have been painting since I was a child. I still keep my sketch books with me as visual diaries. I received art, graphics and sculpture education at high school. I then preferred the Ceramics Department and came into contact with glass. The effect of colour created by glass when it comes into contact with light and its decorative versatility compelled me to use different materials in my design. I had worked as a designer at one time in the area of fusion in a glass factory. The movement glass goes through in heat processes is a phenomenal journey.

Mosaic is classic form of art and has a deeply rooted past in Anatolia in particular. The rich art of mosaics dates back to the depths of history in the world in general. How did you come to be involved in mosaics, how did this love affair begin?

The oldest known mosaics were created in Anatolia, using pebbles. Glass mosaics go all the way back to ancient Greece and the Byzantine era. I think the Greek style is more predominant in my work. Because, rather than the standard, square like dimensions in stone, the steined glass forms in unlimited colours cut from glass affect me more.

 The ‘Angel Face’ uncovered in Haghia Sophia Museum and the ‘Gypsy Girl’ discovered during the Zeugma excavations were featured in both the local and international press. How do you evaluate this rich history? Are you inspired by the masterful skill in these treasures?

Indeed I am…it was during my university years when I first visited the museum in Antakya and I was deeply impressed by what I saw. Immediately after that I visited the Zeugma Museum and with the inspiration I got from the photographs I took there, I designed 16 large scale glass mosaic tables. While I was reinterpreting the two different mosaics of women in portrait form: ‘Soterya’ and ‘Peace of Mind’ located in the Antakya Mosaics Museum, I was extremely excited until I placed the last piece.

In mosaic work there is the widespread belief that the most expensive floor coverings of the Roman world were the large marble coverings rather than mosaics. Byzantine writers knew the names of different types of marble one by one and described them in detail while they mentioned mosaics briefly. However, mosaic is perhaps one of the most artful among art forms Based on this approach, how do you evaluate mosaics?

At the end of the day, mosaics is a value where each piece represents the whole and it is something we face in all forms of nature. It also embodies a geometric harmony that is not random. From a decorative perspective, I could say man has aimed to bring together this aesthetic element with his own harmony throughout the ages.

Take colourful stones and place them to your heart’s desire. There’s an original composition for you. Is this the secret to the ease with which you do it and the enjoyment you take from it?

Maybe so…In fact, this way, your sense of form develops further. It is like reaching the abstract, just as design is infinite.

Which materials do you prefer working with, glass mosaics or tile mosaics?

I like working with both materials. Tile mosaics is of course a harder material. However, once you complete the entire project, that is, the design, from A to Z, your entire tiredness vanishes into thin air. The last time I worked with tile mosaics was in 2009. The multicolour kitchen bench comprising house layers I did in a house in Galata drew attention.

What do you consider when you are decorating a space? How do you decide on the design material that is going to capture and reflect the spirit of the place?

I predominantly try to design my work by translating personal preferences and functionality in the home to each and every process in different spaces. Sometimes a piece of work, a painting or sketch that I have previously designed can naturally find a place for itself in the space I am working in.

What is the last space you worked in and the mosaic design you have realised?

This past summer I designed pieces of work for two different venues in August. The first was the Yeniköy Baps Pilates studio. I designed mosaic lamps for the massage room. For the same venue I designed a lamp in the form of a 120 cm diameter concave illuminated mosaic emplaced in a niche.

The second one was the mirror application on the restaurant wall in the entrance of the Gümüşyan Hotel in Tünel, Asmalımescit. It was a work using cut out forms where the antique mirrors spread out on the wall resembled pebble stones.

You have a special interest in mirrors…

Just as in the case of mosaics, mirrors shed light on a symbolic reality. In fact, each reflection serves as an unequalled mirror showing ourselves to us, until all images understand the real object. In addition to this approach, Goethe has said, ‘Behaviour is the mirror where everyone shows his/her face.” To say the least, mirrors have always reflected light. We come across mirrors in cartoons, poems, sayings, anecdotes, lullabies, fables and songs as a concept. Moreover, the goddess Kubaba in the Ankara Anatolian Civilisations Museum holding a mirror, and also the carved figures seen in Etruscan mirrors in antiquity have always impressed me and been important for me with their artistic and period value in addition to their beauty.

Where and in what different forms have you utilised mirrors? 

I participated in an art festival in Berlin in 2003 with ‘Antique Mirrors’, each comprising a different tone.  I had combined the mirrors I had created using my own illustrations and the sanding technique with the handmade frames a carpenter from Berlin had created many years earlier.

My works in larger dimensions are the Bomonti Yılbay Collection and my applications at the MKM are the first ones that come to my mind. I can also cite the artistic mirror designs placed in the wooden niched at Meşhu Takı and the ones in the Kuledibi Cafe in Galata, the Syria Han in Tünel and those in the Sultanahmet Köftecisi…

You also like reflecting light. How does light find a new lease of life in your works? 

 Yes,  I like using light. I created lighting at one period with the bottles I collected. In addition to these there are the glass bricks and illuminated panels. Recently I have developed lighting designs mainly in glass mosaics.

During the pre-design period where do you get your inspiration from for your symbols?

When you start a painting or a design you start out with a concept, the rest just takes care of itself and takes you to where you want to go…What nourishes me most artistically are all of my observations in nature, universal harmony and often my travels…

How do you paint your inner world?

One becomes unhappy when one does not progress, develop, create and transform.

Therefore, one should not let go of that which is creative and exists as an essential feature. I personally have been dancing at this point for many years…I also organise voice, breathing and movement therapy sometimes.

 Have you done any work abroad?

We had designed lighted panels called ‘Dancing in the Rainbow’ for a doctor’s clinic in Munich with an architect who had overseas contacts. I then participated in exhibitions and art programs. I took part in creative workshops, art festivals and exhibitions in Istanbul, Germany, India and Greece.

 What are your projects in the near future?

Recently, in October, we had a very enjoyable exhibition called ‘The Works of the Jinns’ at Gallery Artist in Çukurcuma with Ayşe Domeniconi, a friend who lives in Berlin. I believe I will increase the number of exhibition programmes next year.

I am also planning to prepare different products for some design stores during the year…I hope I will start teaching at the UKKSA Art Academy in Datça within the framework of this project. Additionally, I have been teaching glass and mosaic courses to 6th and 7th formers at the ‘Elim Sende’ association.