The Sweetgum Forest, which has carried on its 60-million-year existence in solely Köyceğiz, provided a meeting place for Turkish and English artists under the Artists for Nature Project.
Artists for Nature, a project which aims to raise awareness of the biological diversity in Turkey and to promote its protection, selected Köyceğiz, which houses the only Sweetgum tree forest in the world, for twenty five young Turkish artists from different parts of Turkey to meet with their English colleagues. The Turkish artists worked in and around Köyceğiz for a week and were assisted by four English instructors, who were all experienced in their respective fields. For many of the young artists, it was their first time working one on one with the forest and in the heart of nature.
The Society of Wildlife Artists, the English partner of the project, joined the Turkish artists to convey the art of wildlife, which was previously unknown in the local community. Together, the artists used many different techniques such as paintings, installations, illustrations, and animations to create works of art. They shared personal experiences in order to communicate how to observe nature. The young artists not only learned new techniques from the English instructors, but also got to see their work from different perspectives.
After receiving critique from the four instructors on their work, which was inspired by the magical atmosphere of the Sweetgum Forest and its story, the art pieces were displayed in front of the locals in order to promote wildlife art in Turkey and raise awareness for the protection of the Sweetgum Forest. A new field for young artists, where the unmatched beauty of Turkey’s natural wonders meets fine arts, was created, and the first seeds of wildlife art in Turkey were sown.
After being displayed in Bodrum, Köyceğiz, and Dalaman, the art pieces will be presented in London’s famous Mall Gallery as a part of the annual “Natural Eye” exhibition in November, which presents artwork inspired by nature. The Natural Eye exhibition, which is one of the most important events of the English wildlife community, houses work by successful artists from all over the globe as well as artists on scholarships from Wildlife Artists Inc.
For more information, please visit www.dkm.org.tr, or look for Artists for Nature on social media.
About Sweetgum Forests:
Liquidambar orientalis, commonly known as oriental sweetgum or Turkish sweetgum, is a deciduous tree in the genus Liquidambar, native to the eastern Mediterranean region, that occurs as pure stands mainly in the flood plains of southwestern Turkey and on the Greek island of Rhodes. The forests of this Tertiary relict endemic taxon are found notably within a specially protected area between Dalyan and Köyceğiz in Muğla Province, where a 286-hectare zone is set aside as a nature reserve and arboretum for the preservation of the species. The present-day extension corresponds to a marked decrease since the 1940s level of 6000-7000 hectares, although the protective measures and infrastructure in place since the 1980s helped stop loss of stands and led to slight improvements. The extraction of its sap and the production of an oil based thereof (sığala yağı), as well as exports of these products, play an important role in the local economy.