Artist Interview: Nilay Yardimci

Posted by Jenni Kirby - February 20 2021


Though Nilay Yardimci grew up in an artistic family, it wasn’t until recently she finally pursued ceramics full-time. Born in Turkey, Nilay was encouraged early on by the Turkish school system to study physics rather than art.


“I first started making clay as therapy. When you touch the clay you get this energy.” Nilay’s husband Erkan echoes this, saying when she creates something with clay it makes her happy. “One day I just started working with clay, making things, and then I couldn’t stop.”


“I started a studio in Izmir in 2010 and continued for 4 years, my ceramic teacher Seydiye Yilmaz taught me every detail about ceramics. My love for ceramics grew each day in this studio." Nilay also credits her success in ceramics to her teacher Goksin Carey, “she is really amazing artist and taught me a lot about sculpting and anatomy to scale. I am grateful for my two teachers.”


Nilay’s ceramics are created through hand-building techniques, which allows her to add minute details and textures. After her initial carving, she will begin carving the internal part of the clay to make it hollow, then connect both halves together to create a bust. Once bisque fired, Nilay will decide which glazes to use, occasionally wiping away some glaze to make a piece look more worn and antique.


You might notice common themes in Nilay’s ceramics, specifically with her clay busts. Most of Nilay’s sculptures are designed to reflect the traditions of cultures that inspire her. Of her greatest influences, she credits her international travels to places like South Africa, and Thailand. Though most recently Nilay has become fascinated with Native American culture, creating new sculptures reflecting Native American traditional dress. The majority of her subject matter is based on the native women of these countries.  


Most recently Nilay has been working on a sculpture designed to personify the story of Daphne and Apollo, from ancient Greek mythology. “She was inspired to make this statue after she was walking and saw a tree that looked like Apollo’s Daphne” says Erkan. The sculpture depicts Daphne with a piece of driftwood emerging from her head.


For her next project, Nilay hopes to partner with friends in Toronto, Turkey, and Germany to create an exhibition about women of the world. And like her animated personality, we anticipate these pieces will be just as colorful.