Ceramic glaze(çini) is one of the most elegant attires of Islamic architecture. The first examples of the kilned attires belong to the first half of 3000 BC, found in the burial ground pyramids in Saqqara, Egypt1 . This civilization, with a strong belief in afterlife, ornamented its most valuable buildings with turquoise ceramic glaze. Turquoise’s voyage started in Egypt centuries ago and continued from one realm to another.
    The use of ceramics in the Islamic architecture began in Mesopotamia in the 9th century 2. These long-lasting attires, we may find in different climates, colors and techniques generously help us follow the traces of the past. The memory of clay has both unearthed the technical details and provided information about the identity, belief system and artistic taste of the region in question.
    While ceramics continued to travel among civilizations, the adventure gained velocity in Anatolia in the 13th century, when the Seljuk architecture had reached its peak3 . The ceramics of the Anatolian Seljuk and Beyliks era of the 12-15th century went through a renaissance with the Ottoman Empire, the new ruler of Anatolia.
    “As of late 14th century, Iznik started to glitter a new ceramics center. Along with Iznik, which produced works to have decorated many Ottoman buildings for centuries, Kütahya flourished as a second ceramics center starting from the 15th century” 4
    The 16th century, when coral red was widely applied, was the golden era of ceramics. Iznik was the main reference point of this era.
Turquoise, one of the deepest colors of nature, is a passion. It was this passion which enabled architects and ceramic masters to create stunning pieces for hundreds of years. Rooting from the soil we breathe on this is a gift handed to the artist.
 Elhan Ergin is an artist, who is well aware of the multi-colored wealth of the land she lives on and who reaches to the depths of these colors. By penetrating in the motifs of the aforementioned adventure, she builds an intimate relation with them.
    The motif becomes distance, growing from its place in the most conventional sense, and dives into another dimension in a new environment, without losing its essence. We recognize the cloud, we know well. The chintemani resembles the conventional pattern, yet what is conveyed to us reflects Ergin’s vision. In the growing lines we see how she communicates with the motif. The rumis are now close to us, as we are sinking in the depths of his chintemani.
 With this rapprochement Ergin modifies the traditional language of the motif and somehow updates it. The modified language deforms the repeated rules via the liberating narration by the artist. As an artist, who plays with the technique of ceramics through the artistic touch she applies, Ergin has an approach creates a diversion, rarely seen in this art field.
The customary fragmentation –mostly lost amid the entirety- of the ceramic tiles come into prominence in some of her works, integrating with the motif and presenting a whole new entity. By incorporating a technical challenge with the motif, Ergin surprises the viewer.

    Elhan Ergin, uses motif of herbal origin –such as rumis, clous and hatayi- most of which are seen in ceramics along with the naturalist ones, namely tulips, carnations, rose buds and dahlia. Chintemani, galleon and waves are among her favorite patterns. In addition to the panels and tiles, she applies all of these motifs on various forms and plates. Repeating her instinctual effort in her attempts to build an intimate bond with motif, she plays with the dimensions of the pattern. While altering the size, Ergin interferes with the colors and toning. Her attitude is interpreted as a trick on the classical coloring language of ceramics. When it comes to colors, she repeats the new expression method she produced in ceramics.
Ergin does not use animal figures frequently. However she uses eagle and bird figures, both of which are often seen in Seljuk ceramics, nested in the tree of life. Meanwhile, the calligraphy, observed in the artist’s late works, conveys the intimate relation between her eyes and lines. Now, the viewer is inside the line, rather than the motif.
   Mostly employing Iznik background of 92% quartz in her works, Ergin designs panels with the ceramic and stoneware tiles she makes in her atelier. While perpetuating Iznik tradition in the technical sense, Elhan Ergin leaves a trace on her designs, by maintaining the close bond-she builds with the invisible magnifying lens she holds- between her and the traditionalism. Her traces point to a new language.
   By getting closer to the strong visual effect of ceramics and using the contrasts of the old and new, Ergin constructs a language, which pushes the limits and dives to the depths, between the past and today.


    1Gönül Öney, İslam Mimarisinde Çini, Istanbul, Ada
    2Yayınları,1987, p.13.
    3ibid, p.13
    4ibid, p.44



Elhan Ergin, who first met clay in Atölye Sir in 1999, has been creating objects and figures in hand building and throwing techniques in her atelier since 2004. Continuing clay’s passionate journey in the world of plastics in atelier Ayfer Karamani, Ergin here works majorly with hand building method. The connection first built with the brush, now is reshaped with the freedom of wet clay. The transition from the two-dimensional to three-dimensional design starts with the tutoring by Ms. Karamani.
Admitting that Karamani, in whose atelier she has worked for three years, had a deep impact and influence on her figurative works, Ergin continues designing sizable figures in her own atelier.
The human and animal figures by Ergin are particular items, every so often standing closer to an abstract narration.

Elhan Ergin describes her personal world of figures as follows: “I am inspired by nature while designing these ceramic figures. Any fish, bird or plant in my garden can act as a source of inspiration for me. In addition my human –particularly woman- figures reflect and express my thoughts about women. My women figures, completely covered with leaves, are symbolizing my view that women are inseparable components of the nature and that they should be preserved in its entire naturalism.
Now and then, I use human extremities and organs as models. Especially hands are forms I have always enjoyed shaping and believed to express the human soul.
Eventually, the figurative work stretches toward a story…”
Like the language she formulates in her ceramic designs, the artist generates a new narration language for the figures. This language is fortified with the natural firing methods.
Ergin’in figürleri, onun el izlerini saklayan derin anlatımlı zarif dokunuşlardır.
Constantly doing research on the possibilities offered by ceramics, Ergin follows the latest developments on her topic in the local and international arena. She finds a passionate pleasure in trying and employing unconventional techniques and including these new experiences into her own language.
Ergin’s figures are elegant touches with deep meanings, hiding her fingerprints. Her vessel forms, on the other hand, are far from reflecting insistent perfectionism. Yet, as a whole they do have a common language. Following clay’s journey, with her personal journey, she applies different glazes and slips on her vessels –just as she does for her figures- and supports her designs by obtaining authentic surfaces. In addition to her experimental coloring, she works with various clay types, particularly with porcelain and stoneware. She also works with clay versions of Cappadocia region, employing different firing techniques. The calligraphy she has been employing lately on her ceramic pieces is also observed in her vessels formed with this regional clay
The artist believes that her independent approach to ceramic vessels is mainly owed to her interest in the Japanese ceramics and her personal preferences. She always underlines that her choice finds its roots in her trips to Japan and the artists she met and ateliers she visited in this country.
Ergin enjoys researching the deep traces on ceramics and renovates her style, designs. Just like her figures, Ergin’s vessels are three-dimensional marks, sincerely enfolding the emptiness and hiding her fingerprints.
Elhan Ergin’s clay route stretches toward new lands and areas hand-in-hand with what they bring inside and what they come across during this journey.