From 20th till 22nd April a Belgian delegation of cartoonists was invited by the city of Eskisehir in Turkey to attend the opening ceremony of the exhibition “Cartoons from Belgium” and the opening of the Atila Özer House. Our delegation, composed of Fernand Vogels of the ECC and cartoonists Stefaan Provijn, Luc Vernimmen, Tony Houbrechts and Nikola Hendrickx, were cordially welcomed and accompanied by Vicdan Bulunmaz Özer (Atila Özer House), Betul Ersan and Ugurcan Usgul (city of Eskisehir). Carried by a flashy black Mercedes minibus (but no black windows) we went like VIPs from one event to another. Time to show the flag and to conquer the heart of Turkey …
Exhibition “Cartoons from Belgium”
Our first main stop was the opening ceremony of the exhibition “Cartoons from Belgium”, which was very well organized by the Eskisehir municipality in close cooperation with the ECC. The exhibition* was located in the city hall and showed a selection of a hundred cartoons of Belgium’s most popular and meritorious contest cartoonists (Tony Houbrechts, Nikola Hendrickx, Luc Vermeersch, Ludo Goderis, Luc Descheemaeker, Constantin Sunnerberg, Jan Dufour, Luc Vernimmen, Norbert Van Yperzeele and Stefaan Provijn). Also a few Turkish cartoonists, like Erol Büyükmeriç and Recep Özcan, were present and it was great to meet them.
In the evening we went upstairs to have dinner with a few invitees. And where’s dinner, there’re (paper) napkins … and for one reason or another, cartoonists and paper napkins result in a chemical reaction. It didn’t took a long time before they all started to draw funny cartoons and caricatures of the dinner guests.
Cartoon workshop for kids
The next day we had the chance to participate in a cartoon workshop for kids, where a local art teacher was learning them the first steps of cartooning. It was great to see how these kids were enjoying drawing, but it was even greater to see the look on their faces when we joined them and showed them our skills. Unfortunately, time was short and maybe we didn’t learn them a lot, but we think we did a great job by encouraging them to keep drawing and to become as good as real artists.
Opening Atila Özer House
In the afternoon we all went to the Atila Özer House for the official opening, a highlight in the life of Vicdan who strived a long time for realizing this project. But with result! The city now has a new beautiful museum, which will be a place to visit for many cartoonists all over the world. A small, cozy house with paintings, cartoons, self-portraits, bookshelves full of catalogues, and showcases with trophies and diplomas will remember Atila Özer as one of the greatest artists in the world. And by looking at his small drawing table in the room corner, with paper, pencils and glasses on top, it looks like he just went out of the house for a walk and never passed away.
The third and last day was reserved for sightseeing in the city of Midas, rock architecture of the byzantine period, including a pick nick with barbecue on the site. The weather was beautiful, the food tasted good and the red wine flowed freely. A perfect ending of this great experience which will be kept in memories forever.
Fernand, Stefaan, Luc, Tony and Nikola