North Cyprus has a healthy regard for art, and perhaps due to the island’s centuries long history, there is a surviving enthusiasm for culture that has lasted down the ages, keeping it alive and well amongst the local population. What’s more, Cypriot art and culture is equally popular and of interest to visitors, and some of this interest has resulted in foreign artists producing their own books about art in North Cyprus.
Lefkoşa is the main centre for all things art related in North Cyprus, and you will find a host of galleries and exhibitions to attend in the city throughout the year. You can also find out about what’s on in the arts scene in Cyprus Today, which has its own culture reporter Heidi Trautmann who often enthuses about several exhibitions at once! You can find art exhibitions featuring everything from painting, sculpture, ceramics and photography, often with bi-communal participation confirming that art really does have no borders.
There are well-known artists living in North Cyprus, and they sometimes offer tuition on the various art forms that they specialise in for those who wish to study and progress in a particular genre. Foreign artists sometimes hold talks and shows too, and the British Council, which has offices in Lefkoşa, is heavily involved in bringing the arts to people’s attention.
Although you will often find art exhibitions literally taking place on the streets of North Cyprus, cultural and artistic venues are in abundance, both North and South of the border – and you can find out about what’s going on through various media channels. You can join art related group outings which are organised, and a lot of organisations have their own websites and are constantly updating their offerings, and if they are really modern thinking then they can also be found on the social networking site Facebook!
You can buy art from a number of places in North Cyprus; the Round Tower in Kyrenia and Büyük Han in Lefkoşa are popular places for artists to display and sell their own work for example. You can also sometimes find stalls set up in the summer months along Kyrenia harbour, with local people displaying their own wares and arts there. There is the Archway Gallery in Karaman too, as well as the Crows Nest pub which displays art for sale in the village. The HASDER Folk Arts Foundation and Institute is also very active within the local community, promoting and keeping the traditional Turkish Cypriot art and culture alive and well.
For those who have the free time and who want to try something different, you can join an amateur painting and drawing group based in Kyrenia, there are weekly lessons for all abilities. If you would like more information please call +90 (0)533 8485780 or +90 (0)533 8667936.
As well as finding various forms of art on display at many of the yearly festivals in North Cyprus, below are some of the more prominent arts venues and organisations:
Atatürk Cultural Centres
You will find that each of the cities as well as the major towns in North Cyprus all have their own Atatürk Cultural Centre, these being set up to remind people of and continue the efforts made by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk to bring Turkish culture into the modern era. You can find out what’s happening through the local press.
Local artists in various disciplines have come together to form this group, and they regularly hold events and exhibitions at venues island wide. They are also involved in the organisation of many bi-communal events. You can find out more about them via their website which has some, if limited, English language pages www.emaacyprus.org.
This venue, based in Lefkoşa, is a former church that then became the Haydar Pasha Mosque; it became home to the HP Gallery in 1994 and now displays exhibitions and shows on a regular basis.
Sacakh Ev (Eaved House)
Located in the Selimiye District of Lefkoşa, the Eaved House is located on the walking path tour of the city and holds regular exhibitions for both local and international artists. The venue itself is wonderfully historic with parts of the property dating back to the Gothic period, it also features Ottoman style restoration.
The Sidestreets organisation is based opposite the law courts in Lefkoşa, and they hold regular talks as well as exhibitions, film screenings and workshops in creative writing for example. You can check out what’s on at the group’s venue through their website www.sidestreets.org. They also have their own Facebook group – just look up groups in North Cyprus and you will find them.
Another place to visit exhibitions is at the larger university campuses which often house international and local artists’ work in their own state of the art exhibition and conference facilities.