“Citizens” focuses on people born and raised in Istanbul and who are masters of their domains. In this section, described as unsung heroes of Istanbul, we talk about citizens’ Istanbul, profession, yesterday and today.
BREATHING THE CERAMIC IN…
Inside the cocoon of Nuray Ada, there is a deep sense of creativity, a passion for the ceramic, and an unspoken truth of nature.  
Words: Pelin Kestanecioğlu
Images: Nazlı Erdemirel
I thought about the people that might have lived in these buildings as I was looking for the Yeni Hayat Apartment, the 108-year-old historical building that was built by the architect Belisarios Makropoulos, among the distinctive buildings of the Sıraselviler Street. It is almost impossible not to feel the aura and the natural rawness of the place.

The marmorino plastered walls that welcomed us at the entrance, the antique deluxe mirror and chandelier, and the stairs led us to a door which felt as if it opened to a different world. Passing through a long and narrow corridor, we proceeded under a melancholic light that was unique to the building. Nuray Ada’s voice was echoing behind the iron doors.

Her gallery is one-of-a-kind. There are two low-pitch doors across one another, a studio in which she creates all her peerless ceramic works and a splendid courtyard. On the right, there is a space where the production process and the ceramic classes take place.

The room on the left is Nuray Ada’s cocoon… It is the place where she can be by herself and rest. This unique place almost urges you to create and spend time with yourself. The studio is thought to have been the outhouse or the coal bunker of the building. The main reason for her choosing here was the access to light, which is an essential element for a studio. She likes places that have a soul, just as her works do.

The studio is thought to have been the outhouse or the coal bunker of the building. The main reason for Ada’s choosing here was the access to light, which is an essential element for a studio. Nuray Ada likes places that have a soul, just as her works do.

Childhood Years…
Born in Zonguldak, she has spent her childhood in an intimate relationship with nature living in different regions of Turkey because of his father’s duty as a mining engineer. She lived with her family in Malatya until the 3rd grade and later in a splendid settlement near Sazak village in Eskişehir. Seeing the animals, she read in the fairy tales with naked eye and getting to know them when she and her brother joined mining investigations with their father defined an adventurous childhood, full of new explorations.

It is not surprising that one of her greatest sources of inspiration is nature today. We notice the gentle movements of the leaves of the tree behind as we continue to talk. And I witness one of the inspirational moments of Nuray Ada when she suddenly says: “Pelin, look at that…Such a beautiful tree…”

Her environment and life conditions had changed during the years she spent in high school in Ankara. Together with her childhood years, these later years gave her the colorful character she has now. Music and nature were always irreplaceable in her life. “Then came an exploration of the abroad as well as the Aegean region, İstanbul and other places in Turkey. All of these years echo as experience and manners in my character and my work. Simplicity makes me feel good both in my work and social life.” says Nuray.

The Moment When My Hand Touched The Clay For The First Time…
Her meeting with ceramic moment goes back to 1977. A black and white photograph catch our attention as we stroll in the studio. This photo is a memory from the day her hand first touched the clay. A new chapter was opened in her life that would never close when an Italian origin instructor showed her a few methods in the studio of the Berkeley University in USA.

“After I began to engage in ceramics, I used to spend my whole day in the ceramic classes, messing with clay, in Oregon where we had moved to because of my husband’s occupation. I never stopped going after ceramics since then. I overcame and I still continue to overcome the happy moments, losses, grief and even the health problems in my life through my work.”

She settled in İzmir with her family after having lived in USA. She worked in İzmir Painting and Sculpture Museum. Nuray Ada remembers an artisan that she valued greatly at that time of her life; Artisan Hasan who did flowerpot work. What she has learnt from Artisan Hasan has a significant place for her. Later came the adventure of establishing her own studio in İstanbul…

Her path has crossed with that of Ahmet and Mehmet Uluğ brothers, the founders of Positive and Babylon in İstanbul. The brothers have become partners in buying the building that Nuray Ada had lived for 20 years in Tünel. “Beyoğlu Tünel was a great advantage for me at that time, I was lucky enough to witness the greatest time of Tünel. I used to spend my time living in the attic and producing downstairs in my studio.”

I Am Not An Artist, I Am A Craftswoman
“Craftsmanship is very precious. I do not create one-piece works. We do serial production using the ceramics each of which I shape with my own hands. So I see myself as a craftswoman rather than an artist. I am still surprised at the fact that I make a living out of my occupation, without doing any extra work. I think I am one of the few who can achieve this.”

She is currently involved in the design store opened in the historical Cağaloğlu Hamam (Turkish Bath). “We select and place the display products. The guys there ask me about the details regarding the design.” The service plates and pots of the newly opened restaurant 1741 are from the hands of Nuray Ada…

With the excitement of this work, she once again began turnery, which she had quitted for a while. “The works created using the turning machine have a distinguished place for me since they are each made singularly. They are unique and have a harmony of their own. The rest is made using the molds.”

With the excitement of this work, she once again began turnery, which she had quitted for a while. “The works created using the turning machine have a distinguished place for me since they are each made singularly. They are unique and have a harmony of their own. The rest is made using the molds.”

As she was serving the raspberry liqueur that she had bought from the Feriköy Bazaar, she explained us that the appetizers bowls they make for the restaurant are inspired by the Turkish bath bowls. We learnt how the Turkish bath bowls bought from the Feriköy Bazaar are used as molds, while she was pouring the liqueur into different elegant glasses.

As we were heading towards the end of our conversation, I asked where we could find Nuray Ada’s work. She said she is happy that her works are sold in museums, art shops and in some touristic stores and restaurants in Sultan Ahmet and Grand Bazaar.

We All Live What We Derserve And Choose
She used to give classes in her studio but now handed it down to young craftsmen that she works with. “One should mess with the clay by herself once she learns a few techniques. That is the secret to learning and enjoying what you learn. Experience doesn’t only come through work but also meeting with new people. I can understand what others think or feel when I look at them. The decisions you make in a path you choose designate your following step. We all live what we deserve and choose. It was difficult for me to choose İstanbul to start a new life with my children after having lived in İzmir for all those years. Yet all these challenging choices and paths took me to ceramics. And it made me feel that I could really breath, in every moment of my life.”

FROM THE ARCHIVES
FEASTS
FINDS
CASE SERIES
ALL ARCHIVES
FROM THE ARCHIVES
FEASTS
THE DIAMOND FOLD

The art of using the right napkin in four steps.

FINDS
THE AESTHETICS OF CORN COBS

The story of Fernando Laposse travels from Mexico to London and spreads around the world.

CASE SERIES
MEMOR(Y)IAL DESTRUCTION

The art month in Istanbul is September and for me it took a start with the exhibition “Memor(y)ial Destruction”.

BLACKOUTS
SEGOVIA

‘In Medina del Campo the history of Spain can be experienced on its streets, its public places and in the cluster of historical buildings in the city center. This is the city of Isabella, Queen of Spain.’

LOVE LETTERS
FEM GÜÇLÜTÜRK

The love letter to Çıtlık Ağacı (Turpentine Tree) that botanist Fem Güçlütürk wrote is reflecting something beyond the love that we know.

SENSES
AYŞE BOYNER

We feel Ayşe Boyner’s high energy through all of her senses.

CITIZENS
NURAY ADA

Best friend, a local break spot, a deep relaxing breath, or maybe a handful of mud ready to be shaped…