In Istanbul, Ece Cingöz runs Parelion Studio in a neighborhood on the coast of the Sea of Marmara. She opened it three years ago as a space to run workshops and create her own pottery following nearly a decade of practice in ceramics. Starting her creative life by making video art, she pursued an advertising degree and ended up working in the offices of events and gaming companies, feeling disconnected from the art that inspired her.
Aspiring to visualize
Born in the late eighties when the contemporary art scene was forming in Istanbul, Ece didn't grow up surrounded by the art world that she'd later find work in. Her father was a paper merchant, and her mother worked at the Hilton hotel, but she says that it was a gift from a relative that kick-started her creativity. ‘My uncle bought me a camera as a graduation gift. I wanted to make creative work with that,’ she says. Together with a group of friends, she started making films featuring local seascapes and slow-motion dancing that were matched with music released on Myspace.
Nurturing a passion
Ece moved to Istanbul from her hometown of Izmir and studied advertising, but bemoans the fact that ‘in Turkey, young people are often pushed into a career before they have a chance to develop their passion’. She moved to Prague briefly to intern for a marketing company before returning to Istanbul to work in the gaming industry. ‘I was so sad in those days. I didn't want to make rich people richer, I wanted to work with my hands,’ she says.
But living in a flat close to a ceramic studio, Ece started taking classes. Soon, she found Teppei Yamashita, a Japanese pottery teacher in Istanbul who spoke fluent Turkish. ‘You have to work on your own and dive into the unknown,’ Ece says. ‘I waited for one and a half years to study with Teppei. I practiced every day after working at the office; it was a primitive practice. You have to go through the painful road of working by yourself. You have to trust yourself in that process, to keep going.’ Teppei supported Ece in her bid to become a teacher at a local studio and she soon earned a small circle of students.
Creating my space
When she noticed colleagues at her day job resigning with severance benefits, she proposed a deal to her boss who, somewhat surprisingly, agreed. The severance sum was enough for Ece to open her own studio. She found a space for Parelion close to the sea. ‘Teaching was a win-win situation. My students gained knowledge to produce fine work, and I started to earn a living,’ Ece explains.
At Parelion, the backroom kiln is constantly firing teapots, cups, plates and more. Her teapots are among her most iconic pieces, inspired by classical Grecian vases and ceramic artists like Geoffrey Whiting and Füreya Koral.
‘In two years, I envision Parelion as a country studio on the Aegean coast, focusing on special commissions,’ Ece says. ‘I do love teaching, but I'm still a student, too.’