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From the generation that created contemporary Turkish ceramic art, Prof. Hamiye Colakoglu laid the foundations of the culture house while she was alive. However, she couldn’t live to see the "Hamiye Colakoglu Ceramic Museum"s opening. Hacettepe University, of which she founded the Ceramic Department, exhibited an example of loyalty and brought this museum to life and opened it.


We talked the foundation story of the Hamiye Colakoglu Ceramic Museum and remembered her with her closest two students, Prof. Dr. Candan Dizdar Terwiel and Assoc. Dr. Mutlu Baskaya. Their efforts were the most in the establishment of the museum.

What does Hamiye Colakoglu mean to you? Could you tell us a little about her?

CANDAN DIZDAR TERWIEL: There can be an important person, a happening or numerous other factors in an artist’s life that creates him or her. The master person, the main figure that brought me together with art in my life, was Hamiye Colakoglu. As I came to Hacettepe University Fine Arts Faculty with no knowledge of ceramic art and through the time of being her student, I looked at art by going through both the training of a master and academic education. With the environment she set we got familiar with art education, nurture and manner. And the years between 1984-88 which I was a student of her, were the times where there was an urging need for a new perspective, an aesthetical environment-consciousness not only in universities but in all segments of the society. Hamiye Colakoglu was like a life source for me in this arid climate... Here I want to call her as “My Professor”. She first showed us how to look at Anatolia and the world and then the values we have and how we can comprehend these values and their aspects from local to universal, through ceramic art. In this way, My Professor has led the way to raising many artists, changing of our university’s figure and stepping up international events. Lifes she touched, her life serving as a model and her fund of knowledge in ceramics have all brought us to these days.

MUTLU BASKAYA: She has a brave, humane, kindly personality that approaches everyone friendly and enlivens and cheers up the environment she involves in. She was seeing every person equally... She would communicate with people with no sexual, racial, color, language, religious, ethnic root, sexual identity, philosophical and political view discrimination at all. Regardless of their statue or sex she would call people “darling” and make them feel that they’re very special. All of the students, teachers, employees, technicians or friends in our department were a darling to her. Prof. Hamiye would trust her feelings and often act with her emotions. When she first meets with someone she would or wouldn’t warm to him or her right at that time. She was motherly, giver and sharing to those she warmed to. She wouldn’t behave badly to those she didn’t warm to but stand aloof from them. She would support and smooth the way for as much as she can for the students she loves. She loved me very much and so I did her too and believed her.

She would believe that people are born artists and see some of her students as artists and some as students. So, she would always communicate with others with her artistic attitude but never forget she was a human being too. She didn’t get married, so she didn’t have a child but the students she loved were all her children. For I’m one of her children I put a great effort with Candan to make her most desired dream in life real. There was a culture house we endeavored a lot together with our friends and supported our teacher for its’ establishment. This house was a three-story villa in Turkish House type there were ceramics belonging to her, objects with high ethnographic value and artworks presented to or bought by her. She made this house carefully thinking every corner that there’s a small wall panel at the entrance that she made herself using refractor materials in Canakkale Ceramic Factories. She even designed that genuine wrought-iron window guards herself. She asked the design of the chimney of the house from me. Because the title of the post-graduate thesis I finished in 1997, was “Raku Textures in Modern Ceramic Interpretation of Mugla Chimneys.” I made that chimney inspired from the Milas Chimney. Standing still like a statue on the roof of the house, the chimney is complemental for this house which’s designed as a Turkish House. The number plate at the entrance of the house was made by another one of her students Prof. Dr. Candan Dizdar Terwiel in majolica technique. 

Altough this house was finished when she got ill, she couldn’t make the dreams she desired real. Her biggest dream was this culture house being a foundation and museum building in her name and her name being protected and embalmed with her works. For this, she has opened Hamiye Colakoglu retrospective exhibition two times. She has created an area in the attic that she was thinking to host her foreign guests. We would be organize symposiums and this house would host important art events. But her family thought that it would be better for her works to be protected by an institution so they wanted to empty and sell the house. And the most suitable institution for this was Hacettepe University that includes the Ceramic Department of which she was a founder and served in.

When did the story of Hamiye Colakoglu Ceramics Museum begin?

CANDAN DIZDAR TERWIEL: Since the days she was serving in university Hamiye Colakoglu was always in search of a museum-like place where she can meet and work with artists and exhibit her know-how and for this purpose, in 1994 she bought a detached house located in Ankara Beysukent and with a great effort she turned this house to a “culture house” in her own saying. The most important feature of this house is that it’s close to the university thereby she could meet with her student even after her retirement. This foresight has made things easy for us during the establishment of the museum. The Culture House was opened with a big ceremony in 1996 with the participation of many elite guests. But it has never been possible to turn this house to a better use as she always wished. So after this, it has led the way to the idea of a real museum. As ceramics department we have claimed from the very beginning that Hacettepe University should be the place where our teacher’s valuable collection belongs. Hamiye Colakoglu Ceramics Museum is the fruit of a long and tough journey beginning with our teacher’s retirement in Septemeber 2001 and ending by its’ opening in March 2020. Hacettepe University Senior Administrations were also supportive from the very beginning of this issue. And in the time period following our teacher’s passing (31st December 2014) works being made for the museum have gathered pace.

Mutlu Başkaya and Canan Dizdar Terwiel

MUTLU BASKAYA: As I mentioned before, this time period in fact, has begun after we lost Prof. Hamiye in 2014 and as a matter of fact the biggest reason was her desire for this when she was alive but not being able to make it real. Even the vice-rector of the time period following the loss of our teacher, Prof. Dr. Hasan Bayhan was open up to turning it to a museum, it couldn’t be began at that time and it became possible in the time period of Prof. Dr. Haluk Ozen whose term office has ended at the time. Prof. Haluk has said that this work maight be a matter of scientific research project and offered us to talk with HU Scientific Researches Department President and Vice-Rector Prof. Dr. Vural Gokmen. We have invited Prof. Vural to Prof. Hamiye’s Culture House and in the meeting we did he got really excited when he saw the works and said that he will have a talk about this with Prof. Haluk. Right after that, Candan, I and a group of friends from our department who will work in this project, have made another meeting with our Rector Prof. Dr. Haluk Ozen and Vice-Rector Prof. Dr. Rahime Nohutcu at our Prof. Hamiye’s house. By chance that day, 22nd December 2016 was Prof. Hamiye’s and my birthday. After a while we have begun this project together with Prof. Dr. Candan Dizdar Terwiel, the project coordinator from HU Scientific Researches Department and some of my friends from the department. Overcoming all obstacles and obstructions we have supported Candan to finish this project.

The Museum location was Beytepe but there were some questions about the place. Unfortunately Rectorate didn’t have the budget for a new museum building and it was thought to be established on the areas in already existing buildings. With the thought if we can turn the unused area in the first considered place, HU Tuncalp Ozgen Culture and Convention Center, under the chairmanship of our Rector Prof. Haluk, we have met again with Prof. Dr. Candan Dizdar Terwiel and Prof. Emre Feyzoğlu from the project group, HU Art Museum Curator Academist Dilek Karaaziz Sener, Our Dean Mumtaz Demirkalp, HU Art Board and Public Relations Manager Kamuran Zeren. Our Dean and HU Art Board were in the opinion that these this area was not suitable for a museum and Tecaher Hamiye’s works might be added to the already existing Hacettepe Art Museum thus it would be better for the family to protect the current culture house with all the works in it. After this meeting Proffesor Haluk and Proffesor Rahime continued their search for a new place with us so that the museum could be established.

After the robbery incident in Prof. Hamiye’s Culture House, the works have been slowed down a bit both due to the disappointment of the project group to some extent and the diffficulty of founding a place for the museum. But one day we have met again with our Rector Prof. Haluk, Vice-Rector Prof. Rahime, HU Public Relations Manager Mrs. Kamuran Zerene, Prof. Hamiye’s sister Ulku Polatoglu, niece Mrs. Hurriyet and some friends from the project group, in Beytepe for the museum building. At a point where Candan was nearly giving up, seen from the White House that we were having this meeting, the conservatory building was standing before us like it’s saying “I’m the museum building you’re looking for”… I remember we asked Prof. Rahime’s opinion for this right there... And thanks to her she didn’t turned us and said “Let’s go have a quick tour inside the building and think on it.” This way, by touring inside the building we have made our decision for the place we were looking for the museum in Beytepe for a while. With HU Rectorate saying that in HU Ankara State Conservatory of which’s construction is about to finish, a big hall and the depot under could be consigned for the museum, and the family also thinking that this new place would be suitable for the museum; the family and Hacettepe University has made a solid agreement and signed a protocol contract and works have been granted to Hacettepe providing that a museum to be founded.  

You also encountered a robbery a while ago and you suffered a lot. Are there any pieces stolen?

CANDAN DIZDAR TERWIEL: The first step of establishing a museum was made with a Research Groundwork Project we prepared for the university in 2016. The project was started to document an inventory that will bring together the collection holder successors (Our professor Hamiye’s sister Ulku Polatoglu was the one that made contact with us about this) and the University Administration that wants to be informed about the number and the qualification of the works. Titled “Hamiye Colakoglu Ceramics Museum Work Inventory Research” the project was still under study when thieves (two as stated by the witness) who entered our teacher’s culture house at midnight in June 2017, has stolen some of the artworks, computer and the camera. The most disappointing side of this as much as the loss of works, is that it also caused the project to last longer. Among the piecfes that were stolen there are Hamiye Colakoglu ceramics and pictures included in the collection. On the other hand, a few works of which the inventory studies of are finished, were left broken while being attempted to be stolen.

(From left) Hürriyet Ay, Candan Dizdar Terwiel, Soner Pilge, Hüseyin Özçelik, İlhan Marasalı, Füsun Kavalcı during inventory working

MUTLU BASKAYA: As part of the project being carried out, there were periodic visits being made and inventory works being carried out in Prof. Hamiye’s Culture House I mentioned above. Works were being photographed one by one, numbered in queue with their identity tags and recorded into inventory book. These works were being performed according to project’s groups availability and they were writing their names and signing into the book. Candan was coordinating with the family and whoever enters and exits the house, both from the family and the project group, was being recorded with cam. Even the cold winter days, dusty environment and lack of water was making the working conditions harder, without demoralizing, with the help of Hacettepe University administrators who believes us; Prof. Haluk, Prof. Vural and Prof. Rahime coming at first, we have worked hard to finish this project. 

Until the neighbor across has called Ceramics Department and said that two thieves are exiting Prof. Hamiye’s house in a rush... That day police, 3 members of the family, someone from the Rectorate and from the project group Candan Dizdar Terwiel, Dogan Ozgundogdu, Ilhan Marasali, Huseyin Ozcelik and I have immediately got there. The neighbor has said that there were two people looking like academics running away and that one of them dropped and broke one of the works of Prof. Hamiye while running. I remember that all of us have asked the neighbor that we are working here like workers but we’re academics and that if the thieves were looking like us, that what was the meaning of “looking like academics”, that if could be more clear. Upon the complaint of a member of the family, the police have collected the photos and id information of all the project team and fingerprints of all of us and those who have entered the house the very last day. Some civilians have also watched us at the door of the department for at least 3-4 days. They have come to department and interrogated me and some of my friends. Candan has even gone to the police station to give a statement.

Although disappointment has interrupted the project after this incident, when Prof. Hamiye’s sister Ulku Polatoglu has said that she would give us support to continue the project, the most important meeting has taken place at the White House in Beytepe. As far as I remember they have tried to steal from her own works, broken one in rush and left one but stolen 3 paintings that are easy to carry by cutting them apart from the frame. Fortunately, they haven’t stolen too much works. 

It has gained its’ foundation while the Professor was alive, but could this project become real if Hacettepe University wouldn’t adopted it?

CANDAN DIZDAR TERWIEL: This project became real by favour of Hacettepe University which enlives with “to the best always onwards” principle. Creating a private museum is a matter as a seperate issue in institutions and when institutions has this richness they become stronger.

It must be the first private museum in Turkey that’s opened in the name of a ceramic artist. Are there any examples in the world?

MUTLU BASKAYA: I also don’t remember another example in Turkey so we can say that it’s the first private ceramics museum in Turkey that’s opened in the name of a ceramic artist.

When we think about the painting-sculpture field in Turkey there are many examples but less when it’s ceramics field. Instantly coming to my mind is Li Ziyuan Museum which is opened in the name of Grand Master Li Ziyuan, the President of the International Ceramic Artists Association which I’m a member of too and it has the works of him and the members of the association. 

There’s also Kim Yong Moon, Macsabal Ceramics Museum that was opened by Korean ceramic artist Kim Yong Moon in Wanju County, Korea but later closed by the recent municipality. It again had the works belonging to Kim Yong Moon and the works made by the artists in International Macsabal Symposiums… Unfortunately, all the works now have been put in a depot by the Wanju Municipality. Opening museums is important but maintaining them is more important.

How many works are exhibited in the museum? What did you look out for in terms of curatorship while arranging? What will the visitors come across with?

MUTLU BASKAYA: There are more than 120 works being exhibited. We have looked out for get the audience together with a selection that demonstrates a common dialectic, looks like they all made specific for this exhibition but covers the years of 1970s and 2000s. The collection in the first opening of this museum, displays our teacher’s artistic perspective that involves all times. Abstract expressions of ceramic, porcelain and refractor bodies can be seen in this exhibition. We hesitated to exhibit all of the granted works because the place was not large enough and we wanted it to be a more simple exhibition. We have completed the arrangement of the exhibition with the color transitions, low-high relation and ceramic paintings on the walls. 

To attract people outside to the museum we have dyed the outer wall and the different colored door to black and covered it with a fragment of black and white photographs. In the photographs in this fragment there are; Teacher Hamiye’s works, family, friends, people in the bilateral protocol signing day, her old students and our new students who have given their supports in establishing this exhibition. I’m proud of all of our students who, were with us with their full wills, during the establishment, from moving to cleaning and arranging. In addition, I congratulate our student Mustafa Anıl Diktepe for his works on the photography fragment of which we together selected the photos and edit the graphic works in computer for days. In the opening day, our students have watched works to protect them from the crowd, like they swore to protect our teacher’s legacy to future forever.

In future, there can be exhibitions with yearly planning, that includes our teacher’s autobiography and documents.

With the participation and great helps of our students too, Hamiye Colakoglu Ceramics Museum opening exhibition serves as a stand of respect to modern ceramic art. 

Photo: Mutlu Topaloğlu

Unfortunately, coronavirus outbreak has emerged after its’ opening. But museums also opened their doors with the new normal. How this museum will contribute to the modern art environment in Ankara?

CANDAN DIZDAR TERWIEL: Hamiye Colakoglu Ceramics Museum is a university museum, becaue of that it first has a characteristic of allowing young generations that are having education in university, to meet with art. A place where modern ceramic works can be seen for Fine Arts Education as well as the universal quality, substantial works of a pioneer ceramic artist Teacher Hamiye Colakoglu who’s an achievement of the Republic, this museum is considered as a culture source for those who study on art as well as to all art lovers. To be kept alive with modern museology in mind, this important museum is an achievement for not only Hacettepe University but also our country.


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