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Meet the judges of the Children’s Art Competition: Gülizar Çepoglu

March 19, 2017

How long have you been involved in judging the Children’s art competition and what do you enjoy about being a judge?

I have been involved in judging Children’s art since 2014 when the Trustee of Dulwich Festival, the lovely and inspiring Mrs Louise Wood, kindly asked me to join the jury panel and I happily accepted.

I enjoy looking at Children’s Art because it frees me from the conventional “ways of seeing”. The refreshing visual expressions of very young people make me happy with their familiar “childhood joy and playfulness”.

They also allow us to see through the children’s eyes again which is not an easy task when you are a fully grown up person. John Ruskin called it the “innocence of the eye”, and I completely agree with Picasso when he said: “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.”

In addition, I enjoy being in a panel of three judges from different backgrounds of art and design. This opens up a discussion that enables us to evaluate the work together from different facets. It is a refreshing process for us.

Art is so subjective and it must be very difficult to judge. What will you be looking for from the entries?

I am not sure if children’s art is so subjective, especially at the younger ages when certain movement and coordination skills create a similar visual vocabulary. What is important for us is the sincerity and the freshness of the child. “The innocent eye” and its expression: that they express their own world in a state of newness that is not yet tarnished by grown-ups or society.

Sincerity, spontaneity and uniqueness in mark-making within a framework, is what I look for. The theme “home” is a great one to capture all of the above qualities, emotionally and physically.

As a graphic designer yourself, what tips can you offer to anyone taking part?

Relax and enjoy expressing yourself freely and spontaneously, on paper, on canvas, etc. focusing on the theme “home”. Play with the meaning of the word – explore and reflect on it. What does “home” mean to you?

It is not about winning the competition; it is about you telling us about your experience of “home”, sincerely, in your own unique way.

You have also worked in education. Why is it so important to encourage our children to be creative?

Creativity is the opposite of being boring. Having interesting ideas and then going on to express them in one form or another, is the way to explore creativity. It involves looking at the world, right now at this moment, with no regard to the past or future, always being individual and doing fresh things.

Everyone is creative, but to remain creative in the world in which we live, requires encouragement. That is our role as parents, educators and as a society: to encourage the freshness, freedom, uniqueness in our children which then leads to the creative acts, works and events that continuously enrich and evolve society.

The theme is ‘home’. What is your idea of ‘home’?

“Home” for me is wherever I can be at ease, joyful, playful and endlessly productive! Home is not a fixed form; it can change its nature and location. Home is wherever I feel most myself; with no fear, no remorse. And that feeling leads to freedom and creativity. Home is wherever I can create new ideas and then go out to execute them. Home is Hope!

What projects are you currently involved in?

I am currently involved in a design activism project: “We are all practicing being democratic“, which is planned to be delivered before the referendum in Turkey this spring. Its aim is to encourage people to question themselves about who they vote for and why. For whose benefit? For example, what someone wants for themselves or their ‘group’ might not be good for everyone or for the country.

The project will involve a series of posters and emojis. It follows from a workshop I ran in Turkey, two years ago: “Life is a protest”, which involved international as well as Turkish students.

Gülizar Cepoglu is an international graphic designer and educator with BA and MA degrees in typo/graphic design from London College of Communication, where she was a lecturer for 15 years until recently. Her design work includes a wide range from corporate identity to editorial/information design with a particular emphasis on book design. She has won numerous design awards, and is currently working on several book projects between London and Istanbul.