A New Beginning: The Main Gallery

“I was dreaming of these days. In here, I am so happy. Making art, thinking art, talking art. My life is art now.” 
- Ozlem Yeni.

Adelaide-based artist Ozlem Yeni is fulfilling a lifelong dream, and a first for art in Australia.

“Through my research I found out I am the first Turkish artist who is crazy enough to open an art gallery in Australia,” Ozlem laughs.

As an artist, Ozlem depicts the human experience with compassion and grace. Always there is humanity, and humility. Human figures appear in many of Ozlem’s own artworks – abstract forms with no age, race, gender, nor religion. “I call them my people,” she says.

“I believe everybody has an individual story which is written spontaneously. Sometimes we can be a hero, a protagonist, then just a witness. Every story is something unique and precious to think over.”

Now a passion for people’s stories has manifested in a lifelong dream – to open an international art gallery.

Many creations over 20 years have allowed this dream to manifest – many late nights painting, solo and group exhibitions, traveling, sculpting, teaching, dreaming.

I first met Ozlem at a pottery class in Mount Isa, north west Queensland, one of Australia’s largest mining towns. We were both new to town, and found a friend in Isa local of 45 years, French-born clay artist, Michele Savoye.

As a Kiwi “fresh off the boat” from Auckland City, I got a culture shock in my first week, attending the biggest rodeo in the southern hemisphere, withstanding 40 degree heat, learning new slang, and dodging kangaroos at night. Not a town known for its art scene, I was amazed at Ozlem’s drive to create magic in this desert.

Throwing herself into clay work, she started bringing her people into a new dimension. It was inspiring to witness.  Her home studio was a thing of beauty, curated treasures and raw materials beautifully arranged, I wanted to sit in the space for hours.

It wasn’t long before Ozlem opened a public studio with exhibition space, and room for drawing classes. Always looking to challenge herself, Ozlem has used her 20 years in arts and academia to create something truly special in the heart of Adelaide.

“I believe in these challenging times, it is important to share and nurture the idea of hope as well as providing the physical means through which local, national and international artists can exhibit their work.’’

And as always with this big-hearted artist, it’s about people – allowing others to share the space she has created, and peopled with her own unique figures – fashioned in clay and on canvas.

Words :  Esther MacIntyre.

Photo :  Morgan Sette