Ipek serves the coffee in a homemade cup. But cups aren't what she's known for. Her unique bowls are internationally popular with art collectors and galleries. But the journey to get there was not easy. “Pottery making saved my life.”
“I am from Istanbul. As a child of secular, highly educated parents, I always had to perform well. My father wanted me to study law. But I didn't want to be a lawyer, so as a compromise I did marketing and communications in the US, where I later got a job. After ten years I returned to Turkey. I was so unhappy that at one point I only weighed 44 pounds. And I still thought I could lose another pound. If you come from a family where you always have to be the best and are constantly criticized, that does something to you.”
“I quit my job and enrolled at the age of 30 at the Rhode Island School of Design, one of the top art schools in the US. This time I didn't ask my parents for permission but just told them. Once there I tried different disciplines. When I discovered pottery, tears ran down my cheeks. I always knew I had to do something with my hands to get in touch with my body. It was that simple.”
“Within six months I conquered the eating disorders and my depression. The pottery and special therapy helped me with this. But I cried a lot at that school, every day during the first year. Because I was so grateful!” She smiles when she thinks about it.
“In addition to my regular work as an artist, I also offer personalized courses. People seem to really need to work with their hands and with natural materials. Together we will look for that creative child that we all have in us. I often hear that they also experience it as a therapy.”
“I came to Leiden from Amsterdam three years ago because of love. The potter's wheel and this city are doing me good, but I'm sure I'll move on at some point. It is in any case a privilege to live here.”
See also: @ipek.kotan