Artist, public to create together

FETHİYE - British artist Tina McCallan will bring the classic work of Turkish artist Turgut Zaim to the Çalış Carnival in Fethiye this year, where carnival-goers will be invited to paint a collaborative masterpiece based on Zaim’s "Yörükler."

The project, in which each participant paints one square on a canvas divided into 100 squares, was inspired by a 15th century Renaissance painting workshop. McCallan chose a democratic version of this method as a way to deconstruct the idea of art as elitist and inaccessible by inviting ordinary people to participate. She hopes to create a social environment in which different people come together to participate in a shared creative process, allowing them to interact with the work, uncover their latent artistic talent and socialize with other members of the community at an event celebrating local culture and aiming to integrate locals, expats and tourists.

McCallan came up with the idea after researching the Old Masters. Her research revealed that some of the Old Masters didn’t actually paint all their own pictures. They had assistants. She then had the idea that she too would have assistants, but that they would each paint one square and be credited in a democratic way.

"Usually a painter will spend hours in a studio producing work that is identifiable as his or hers," she said. "They are then sold and highly prized for their individual style. I wondered what would happen if I invited other people to paint my paintings for me. I would provide the skeleton in the under-drawing and divide the image into a grid as the Old Masters did."

Since coming up with this idea, McCallan has completed many projects. Each one is unique depending on the location, the event and the participants. She is interested in combining professional artists with the untrained public, particularly those who do not usually visit galleries. She says that although the paintings are made from a patchwork of styles and talent, the end result can often be dazzling.

McCallan says her aim is to create a whole gallery of recreations, a kind of alternative collection of Old Masters in which "ordinary people" create each work.

"The project is about attempting to copy something, which is in itself impossible, but the beauty of the project lies in its imperfections," she said. "The act of recreation enables one to inhabit the mind and vision of the original artist, to study details and make it anew. The preciousness of the original is translated into a different kind of preciousness Ğ that of human idiosyncrasy. It’s as if you are looking through a hundred different eyes all at the same time. I like the idea that these reproductions act as visual Chinese whispers silently emulating their original masters."

The original '"Yörükler'" shows a female shepherd with her flock. Although the landscape in the painting depicts Cappadocia, it was chosen because yörük shepherds can still be seen occasionally tending their sheep around the Çalış area. The event starts at 10:30 a.m. Saturday.
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