“My Art Story”, a digital platform to ensure continuity despite the pandemic restrictions

We, as a non-governmental organization accredited to provide advisory services to the Committee, within the framework of UNESCO ICH Convention, carry out works titled “Handicrafts Research Program” along with other research works. We review the tradition of handicrafts under basic titles like the raw materials and tools used; production methods and oral knowledge and skills transmitted through generations. The craftspeople who carry out knowledge-experience, production and cultural transmission process in their fields, have a special place within our works as the important bearers of this tradition. With this approach, the book titled “My Art Story” which includes artists’ stories through their own narration, aimed to open alternative expression space, through the arts for the artists of Izmir, who have been negatively affected from the Covid-19 pandemic.

During Covid-19 pandemic, due to suspension of many artistic gatherings, exhibitions, fairs and festivals our artists could not find chances for face-to-face interaction with public and their circle of artists and neither they could sell their products. Within “My Art Story” the digital platform that we tried to create on the basis of volunteering, aimed to make a small contribution for these gatherings and recognition of our artists. Gathering of different art branches at the same platform, has established a medium that increases awareness of our artists on their intangible cultural heritage. At this platform they get to know each other and their fields of art. This work in which the artists express their own artistic productions through their own words, has also an aim to create a digital record that many people can reach.

For “My Art Story” at first an announcement, for a long-term work, was made to the ones who continue the tradition of handicrafts and live in Izmir since our work is limited within the Izmir Province. A social media group called as “Masters of Tradition” was created with the artists who wanted to take part in this book. Within the restrictions of pandemic, communication was established only through internet by emails, social media and telephone, without face-to-face interaction. Artists’ own texts expressing the tradition of handicrafts that they practice and their personal art stories were asked from the artists along with the pictures of their works. Since the direct expression of the artist was aimed, it was important not to change the texts of the artists, only a general frame of the book was followed. 40 artists from different art branches participated in our work.

The designations employed and the presentation in the texts and documents referenced in this platform do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of UNESCO concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries.