Thursday, September 24, 2009

Decorating the Nursery with ''Adult Art''

Over a year ago, when my current pregnant state was still just a distant prospect, I fell in love with and bought an Iranian folk art rug that I knew would make a perfect wall hanging in a baby's bedroom. The oddly-shaped and disproportionate animals, people, trees and buildings, the mountains, stream and green fields would provide hours of stimulating imaginative play for my child.

Earlier this week I made my second non-baby purchase for baby, and realized I much prefer ''adult art'' to purpose-specific nursery decor. In Istanbul for a few days over the Ramadan holiday earlier this week, we stumbled across an arts and crafts fair sponsored by the Beyoğlu municipal government. A stand of brightly painted two-dimensional marionette-type figures caught my eye. Painted in intricate detail on animal hide, these were true works of art.

The artist had hung several of them from the ceiling by a thread, and their transluscent nature allowed light to shine through, bringing the colours to life. I immediately thought two or three of them hung at different heights would make an excellent alternative to the traditional mobile. Other figures had been framed between two panes of glass, which I thought I'd have done once this and babies to follow outgrow their mobile.

Overwhelmed by the selection, I thought the two main characters, Karagöz and Hacivat, would be a good start. I did a little research and learned that these shadow play characters had been popular during Ottoman times. Karagöz was an illiterate but intelligent man, while Hacivat represented the educated class. Much to the delight of audiences, the latter was usually outwitted by the former.

I think that's probably enough ''adult art'' for the nursery, but will certainly balance the cute teddy bear bedding I've bought.

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