Our forty second interview in this new series of intimate interviews trials the life and experiences of talented mobile photographer and artist Fatma Korkut from Istanbul, Turkey. This is an interview that resonated with me, not that there were many parallels with my own life and experiences but I couldn’t help but wishing that there were… such is the influence of these intimate interviews. I really enjoy learning more about us, making our world smaller and closer. This interview is a gem representing a life polished to perfection, enjoy!
To read the other published interviews in this series including artists, Adria Ellis, Rino Rossi, Mehmet Duyulmus, Alexis Rotella, Lou Ann Sanford Donahue, Irene Oleksiuk, Kerry Mitchell, Filiz Ak, Dale Botha, Lisa Mitchell, M. Cecilia Sao Thiago, Deborah McMillion, Rita Colantonio, Amy Ecenbarger, Jane Schultz, Anca Balaj, Joyce Harkin, Armineh Hovanesian, Kate Zari Roberts, Vicki Cooper, Peter Wilkin, Barbara Braman, Becky Menzies, Sukru Mehmet Omur, Sarah Bichachi, Michel Pretterklieber, Alon Goldsmith, Judy Lurie Whalberg, Andrea Bigiarni, Sean Hayes, Oola Cristina, Kathleen Magner-Rios, Linda Toki, Deb Field, Emilo Nadales, Lydia Cassatt, David Hayes, Jean Hutter, Frederic Deschênes, Mark Schnidman and myself, go here.
All images ©Fatma Korkut
What was your childhood or earliest ambition?
My earliest ambition was creating my own toys from clay. I come from a wealthy family; however, when I was a child, I did not have many toys because there were limited toys in Turkey in 1970’s. In those days all kids used to play with similar toys but they were not enough for me. I wanted to have everything that I had imagined in my head. I mean different patterns, different shapes… So, I decided to create them. Creating was an instinct that was whispering to me all the time, that was pushing me to invent something. I used clay and I made many toys to myself. For instance, I wanted to play house and I needed some dolls, plates, cups, forks etc., I simply created them using clay. All of them were just perfect. I kept on using clay to create anything I wanted. Art started with a game of creation. The most amazing part is that nobody taught me how to use clay. I somehow knew it.
I attended my first group exhibition in 1996 when I was a university student. It was my first recognition.
I worked as a fitness trainer.
Private or State school?
Both. We had to move to different cities a lot due to my father’s work when I was a kid so I studied at state schools in different cities of Turkey. Having to move all the time was not that bad. I had chance to meet with a lot of different people and learn different customs of various regions. When I was about 14 years old, we moved to Istanbul permanently so I studied at a private high school. When it comes to the university education, I studied at Marmara University (state university) whereas I did my first master’s degree at Visual Communication Design Department of Bilgi University (private university). I am currently keeping on doing my second master’s degree at Plastic Art Department of Yeditepe University (private university).
University or Work?
University. Because I like seeing myself as a student who is keen on learning and I know that there are many things that I need to learn. I believe in life-long education. I like being part of academic life. Who knows? Maybe in the future I may lecture at a university.
Who was or is still is your mentor?
My first mentor was my father. I have always admired him. He was a brilliant civil engineer. I remember very well, when I was a little girl, he used to spend hours drawing important projects on the drafting table. I always enjoyed watching him. He had a great talent for drawing and photography. I guess I took after my father.
Moreover, my well-respected lecturers and professors at Marmara University mentored me during my university years. I learned a lot from them.
Last but not least, I see all art history as my mentor. I think, I owe a lot to all artists who contributed the world art and all art movements.
How physically fit are you?
I am very fit. Doing physical exercises has great importance in my life. I train at least five days a week. I enjoy weight lifting and fitness. In addition, I go trekking in spring and I enjoy swimming in summer. Besides, I am very careful about my nutrition. I have flexitarian (semi-vegetarian) diet. I generally eat vegetarian diet but I rarely eat meat.
I have always enjoyed being athletic. I was an athlete and a basketball player when I was at high school.
Ambition or talent: What matters more to success?
Talent comes first. Without talent ambition has no meaning. Being a little bit ambitious, on the other hand, is a must in order to be successful because ambition ignites the wick.
How politically committed are you?
I cannot say that I am very politically committed yet from my point of view, an artist must be aware of the world and politics so I try to do my best in order to follow the news from all around the world.
What would you like to own that you don’t currently possess?
I have everything I want.
What’s your biggest extravagance?
I am not so sure if I can identify my spending as extravagance but I do spend a lot of money on books, painting materials and travelling. You know as much as I do, best books, high quality materials are so expensive but they are all worth it because I am, in fact, spending my money in order to gain some life experiments and in order to do my work as perfect as possible.
In what places are you happiest?
I feel happy everywhere as long as I am with my husband.
What ambitions do you still have?
I have two ambitions. Firstly, I would like to do a PhD. Secondly, I want to hold a solo exhibition. I have attended many group exhibitions both in Turkey and in Europe; however, I have never held a solo exhibition.
What drives you on?
Honestly, many things. First of all, travelling. Travelling broadens my horizon. Going to the places where I have never been, seeing new people and having chance to observe their cultures make me feel motivated. Especially people and their ideas inspire me.
Moreover, the books I read, the movies I watch, the exhibitions I visit… They all drive me on.
What is the greatest achievement of your life so far?
I got married when I was 17 years old. Soon after that, when I was 18, my dear son was born and two years after he was born, I had my lovely daughter. My husband was a very busy young medical doctor then, so I had to take the responsibilities of my kids and my home. That’s why, I could not start university right after graduating from high school. My biggest dream was being able to go to university but in those times it was impossible.
When I was 30 years old, my son was 12 years old and my daughter was 10. I started university just in the beginning of the third decade of my life. I had set my heart on going to university so I was in my glory. I felt like as if I had broken my shell.
I was very successful at the university because I had always wanted to study so I was doing my best to be successful. Finally, I was able to graduate from the university by becoming one of the top five students.
What do you find most irritating in other people?
I hate liars, jealous and lazy people and I also can’t stand people who have lost their motivation.
If your 20 year old self could see you now, what would she think?
She would be surprised and tell me “Oh Fatma, you haven’t changed a lot”. I have a life beyond my dreams which I used to imagine in my twenties. I am sure my 20-year-old self would be so proud of me.
Which object that you’ve lost do you wish you still had?
I lost my pre-engagement ring having been given by my current husband. I still feel sad about it when it comes to my mind. It really had a priceless sentimental value because it was my dear husband’s first gift to me.
What is the greatest challenge of our time?
Global warming is doubtless the greatest challenge. Seeing the melting glaciers when I went to Iceland in June 2019 made my blood run cold.
Do you believe in an afterlife?
I wish I could believe in an afterlife. As a matter of fact, unfortunately I do not believe it.
If you had to rate your satisfaction with your life so far, out of 10, what would you score?
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