Thousands of sculptures that come into existence by a stone, a piece of wood, a marble stone, metal or mug...
A vast land as far as the eye can see... A bosom friend, a dog... A weasel who seldom visits... And the atelier of Rodin of Sivas (nickname for Cuma Altuntas).
After the dream, which he had while sleeping in the village, where he was born, the story of Cuma begins. He dresses stone, soil and nature in the sculpture farm which was built by his hands. He, Cuma Altuntas, expostulates a bit about the present world and the humanity. Though he is far away from the crowd, his inner world is quite crowded.
Here is the character, a talented sculptor Cuma and the story of his sculpture farm he glamorised with a great endeavour.
Will you tell us about yourself? When and how did you start sculpture?
I was born in Kocaoglu Village in Sivas. After the dream I had while sleeping when I was 7 years old, I started to sculpture. I was a student then. There were pain and irreparable faces in my dream. This dream had aged me even though I was a child. My point of view has been changed since then. We had a vineyard home, which had been inherited from my grandfather, outside the village. After the dream, I started to spend my time on the rooftop of that house. In my little world, I started to make various objects from mud and sugar beets.
The people in the village found this situation strange. They even branded me crazy. Unfortunately, the perspective of the people on arts is very narrow in our country. I left my village when I was 14 or 15 years old. I took private lessons from a teacher in Tekirdag for a while.
Shall we also talk about your journey to Bodrum? What brought you to Bodrum?
I have been to several places. I have usually lived in coastal areas and plains. I used to see forests and various animals in my dreams. When I came to Bodrum, I realized that I had been in the place of my dreams. I have been living in Bodrum for 16 years. Spending time with my sculptures and nature gives me an incredible joy to describe. Gumusluk beach is only 500 meters away. However, I go there once a year.
Let's talk about your sculptures, what materials do you use? How do you choose the main material?
I can use almost all the materials in nature. I am able to understand how tough the stone is or how rough the wood is. When I see wood, I see what it has and I use the rough part. I have never gotten up early in the morning and sculpted until the evening. I sit down and start sculpting at my sweet will. Sometimes I make a few sculptures in a day. I still have dreams that cause me to do my sculptures when I sleep and I whittle my dreams on the material I choose. I usually supply the wood to sculpt from the chopper, the iron from the hardware store and the stone from nature. I like olive trees; they are crackly and easy to process. Its veined, patterned structure and smell are very beautiful.
If you ask me, all the trees are beautiful. Do you remember your first work of art?
I had made my first sculpture from mud after the dream in the village where I was born, and I had buried it to hide it. I knew the reactions I would face. I was a happy 7-year-old child. In my dream, my sibling had asked for new shoes for the religious festival. My mum scraped together 5 cents and gave them to me. I remember holding my sibling’s hand, we had gone to the grocery store of the neighbouring town. When we arrived, we saw the long queue and decided to return home. After walking for a while, I saw some mud and then heard a voice saying, "Can this be turned into shoes?". “Sure.”, replied the same voice. When I woke up, I made that shoe out of the mud and buried it to hide it. It was not possible to keep my first sculpture at that time.
Do your sculptures have special stories? What are your inspirations except for your dreams?
I make sculptures of Kurgan stelae (balbals). My sculptures also carry a shamanism effect. One of them is a donkey taking a selfie. For me, the expression is important. I usually assign the meanings on my way. I have two headed sculptures, for instance. The sculptures putting heads together are dignified to the solid friendships. Hands on the chest or towards the belly mean submission on my sculptures. Do not resist, surrender and live in the moment. Resistance is a fear that disguises power. Surrender to nature. My selected topics include humorous items as well. I look at people and portray various animal figures. Some have sharp teeth; some have long tails that they do not show and hide inside of it.
Can you talk about your atelier named as the sculpture farm by you?
I had more than 5,000 sculptures before moving from Gundogan to Gumusluk. Some of it was stolen. Every year, I leave to visit my family. That time when I was back, I realized that my sculptures had been stolen because they were undefended in nature. For this reason, the numbers have decreased slightly. I am not trying to keep them safe anyway. After giving shape to an object, it gets out of me and returns to nature. As people express their feelings by writing, I express my feelings by sculpting the woods and the stones in me. Some people compare and liken my artworks with Rodin and call me the nickname Rodin of Sivas.
Do you organize exhibitions?
In an exhibition, it is not the work of art that is displayed in the centre of people, but the atmosphere there. It is a great pleasure to be there to snack for some people. In an exhibition I attended, I was very impressed by a little child, who was looking at the snacks, his expectation of being served and people's unconcerned attitude. The artwork was that child, there. The indifference was painful.
How do you spend your time instead of sculpturing?
I have struggled a lot with my life here; this is where I live my dreams. I have a dog and a weasel. The weasel sometimes comes to eat and leaves when full. I call her “Little darling”. I have been planting the seeds that I brought from my village in this garden. I do not join the throng. In cities, people have high concrete buildings as big as their egos. In my spare time, I write various writings in my own style. Seems like it is difficult for me to marry and start a family. Because I do not have a standard life. I have dedicated myself to my sculptures.