Thursday, September 18, 2014

Ebru Painting

The New Hampshire Turkish Cultural Center in Manchester offers Turkish cultural classes in the arts, language, cooking, and more for New Hampshire’s growing Turkish community. They are proud to have skilled artists like Hümeyra Ozcan living in New Hampshire and to be able to share this cultural tradition with other community members.

Ebru is a traditional Turkish form of painting that is described as “painting on water.” It has been practiced in Turkey since the 13th century. Marbled paper has been used as a background for calligraphy, religious texts, and to decorate special books. For many centuries people have thought that Turkish artists’ marbling styles were the best in the world.

To create the marbled paper, water is thickened by adding the gum from the tragacanth plant. This creates an oily surface which helps paint pigments float on top of the water and not get absorbed. An Ebru artist then takes a needle, a special comb, or brushes made out of horse hair to swirl the paint pigments together in endless patterns. Most Ebru artists spend years apprenticing or learning from a Master teacher. Once the artist is happy with the pattern, absorbent paper is carefully laid down on top of the water and lifted back out in one motion.

The New Hampshire State Council on the Arts has been working with photographer and community scholar Becky Field of Fieldwork Photos to identify immigrant and refugee community members who are respected in their communities as traditional musicians and craftspeople.  

Left: Hümeyra Ozcan leading an Ebru painting
workshop at the Turkish Cultural Center in Manchester, NH