Valentine Van Herpenrecently met with Ayşe Dağıstanlı about her work as a pottery teacher and artist. Valentine is originally from Amsterdam and first came to Kaş over 20 years ago for a rest from a heavy work schedule. She spent two rehabilitative years in Kaş and, and, as is often typical of Kaş artists, decided not to return to live in Holland.
(Photos of Valentine and her work can be seen on the Bougainville Turizm Facebook Album)
Valentine van Herpen is a ceramic artist who has lived in Gökseki just a few kilometres outside of Kaş since 1992. Her home and gallery are in an old village home she acquired and renovated. She exhibits her work there in what is a three floor art gallery along with the paintings of Helmer Gross.
Over a delicious plate of marmalade and apple pancakes (jam and apple flappen in Dutch) and coffee, Valentine told us she was born and raised in Amsterdam. She got married when she was 20 years old and settled into domestic life. She has one son and three grandchildren. In these early years, Valentine started as a student at a four year art school in the evenings. The first year of this school was an introduction to a variety of art; painting, sculpture, ceramics and others. She decided early on that ceramics was what she wanted to study and her second and third years were where she concentrated her efforts. The fourth year of her school was devoted to the pedagogy of young artists, introducing them to both the practice and the teaching of art to others.
After she graduated from the art school she decided that living in the city did not suit her well and they moved to a country setting outside of Luxembourg. After they settled into life there, she decided to enrol in a two year course of hotel management where she learned a new art–cooking. They then took over the management of a hotel where they daily had over 100 customers for lunch and dinner. After three years of this she decided that the hotel was getting to be too much and she was no longer enjoying her work. They moved back to Amsterdam where she became the manager of an art gallery where she was responsible for scheduling of exhibits, sending invitations, gallery set-ups and general hostess for exhibitions. This lasted for two years.
Valentine felt at this time that her real love and interests were in creativity and teaching and she decided to start her own art school. She also had a part time job as manager of a large distribution centre and warehouse for vegetable merchants. She also had a teaching responsibility for over 100 students every week as well as her own creative work on top of it all. She managed this hectic pace for almost 20 years. This finally became too much and after an illness her doctor prescribed rest somewhere away from all the pressures of her life at that time. Valentine decided to take his advice and came to Kaş, a place she had only visited before but which had an attraction to her and was far from Holland her work. She stayed in Kaş for two years and it was then that she decided to stay on in Turkey and not return to her life in Amsterdam. Valentine’s son, his wife and her grandchildren come to Kaş often to visit and she closes her studio for a month and visits her family and friends in Holland during the Christmas holidays.
After she decided to stay in Kaş, she started her studio (atölye in Turkish) which is located at the intersection of Necipbey Caddesi and Yeni Cami Caddesi across from the Kaş Culture House. The studio has been at that location ever since. She had one firing kiln for many years but it recently started to malfunction and she found a place in Istanbul where she could purchase a new kiln and get her old one repaired giving her two functioning kilns. These are both in use for her work and the work of her students and since the new kiln can fire to 1200 C +, other artists in the area sometimes take their work there for firing.
Valentine teaches courses in making pottery, ceramics, sculptures, and tableware such as bowls or plates. She teaches courses for adults on Tuesday and Thursday from 13:00 until 16:00 and for children on Wednesday from 15:30 until 17:00 and Saturday from 11:00 until 12:30. She is taking new students all the time and since it is the start of her current season, her classes are not full at this time. She charges 12 TL for her adult classes and material costs are extra. Her cost for children is 10 TL and she provides the materials. She has had students as young as five years old and one youngster in particular has been a student for three years and at the ripe age of eight, can make anything he can visualise. Tourists who have extended holidays often enrol their children in her courses, they find out about the studio mostly by word of mouth.
She once had a student who was sent by her mother who thought her child could sell the work she made. When the mother found out that it might take years, if at all, before that might happen, she took the child out of the course. Valentine believes her students come for the joy of creativity, not for commercial gain.
Valentine says that many of her students, both adult and children, come to her classes thinking they are not creative. She said many of them come saying they have “two left hands” and they start out afraid they will not make anything useful at all. Most always they end up surprising themselves.
Her contact information:
Phone: +90 0 242 839 70 78
Mobile: +90 0 536 438 67 26
Atelier Kaş: +90 0 242 836 31 39
Address: PO 78, Gökseki 75, 07580 Kaş, Antalya, TR
Valentine told us of her romantic meeting with Helmer Gross whom she met one day about four years ago on Uzun Çarşı. Helmer was in Kaş for a visit from Marmaris, and as she approached he spoke to her and asked her to sit down with him. “I have waited 20 years for you” he said. She was charmed to say the least and broke into a broad smile recounting her story to us. Helmer later decided to move to Kaş and set up his gallery.
In 1992 Valentine purchased an old village house in Gökseki and started renovating it over the years. This home is now also the gallery for herself and two other artists; Helmer Gross who is a painter and graphic designer and Cees de Wilde who is a photographer and sculptor. They also design beautiful postcards of their work which they sell for 4 TL each. The proceeds from the sale of their art, after expenses, are donated to the schools of Kaş.
Their web site is called GalleryGökseki.com.
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