To visit a workshop of a master of ceramics is like getting into the looking glass of art forms, where a piece of clay is a source to create a variety of items that surprise with their beauty. But not anyone can breathe life into the clay, only real creators are able to do this, only those who considers the pottery a real meaning of their own life.
Gulyara Babayeva, a teacher at the State Academy of Arts of Turkmenistan, is one of these enthusiastic masters. Since childhood, she liked to paint and attended the Turkmenabat Art School. And once, on a TV program, she saw how a ceramist was making interesting figures from clay.
Having decided to master the craft she liked by all means, the girl got involved in the process. Clay – the main material of the ceramist – was found in the home garden.
“I thought I would be able to mould anything I want from the very first, Gulyara says. “But that was not the case, the clay was falling apart in my hands, not wanting to be shaped. Difficulties pushed me to search for information. I went to the library, looked for literature on ceramics and everything related to it. Friends told me that those who make bricks and tamdyrs have the best clay. Dad helped with the finding of the raw material. I am grateful to my parents that they supported my desire. I think that my interest in the craft came from my family. My grandfather was engaged in woodcarving, and most probably, at some point, it was the genes that predetermined my choice.”
When Gulyara succeeded with making her first clay crafts, she exhibited them at school exhibitions and competitions. And after graduation, the young girl enrolled to the Ashgabat Art School to study ceramics and pottery. A red diploma, diploma with honor, was another confirmation that Gulyara found her vocation. Therefore, the journey into the world of the potter’s wheel was continued at the Academy of Arts of Turkmenistan.
“The pottery tool is magic, and before you start to clay, you need to realize what mood you are in. If there is no inspiration or you are depressed by something, then it is better to wait for a while. Clay absorbs and conveys all the emotions of the master, his feelings and thoughts. If you start sculpting in a bad mood, you will not be able to concentrate on the clay, and the sculpting process itself will seem uninteresting.”
In ancient Asia, potters were wearing the blindfold on their eyes to develop their tactile sensations, as the hands of a blind person are hypersensitive. It is thanks to the concentration that the plastic substance takes shape in the hands of the craftsman.
Gulyara’s workshop is near the creative “laboratory” of the famous sculptor Saragt Babayev, who is also a husband of our hero lady. The creative family spends most of their time creating sculptural compositions and ceramics. As Gulyara says: “A person is a temporary phenomenon, while art is eternal!”
Following this postulate, the ceramist every day spends at a potter’s wheel, thousand turns of which give born to amazing oriental jugs, vases, figurines of pomegranates and varieties of souvenirs. Ceramic items are fired in an oven, after which the craftswoman paints each of them by hand.
Gulyara Babayeva teaches her students the pottery, holds master classes and participates exhibitions. We asked her: “What character trait should have an artist?” She answered like this:
“Anyone can become an artist as many people have the ability, but even a natural talent requires constant development. Hard work is, perhaps, the very character trait that is necessary in any business.”