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Rustem Skybin

Former address: Akropolis Village, Nr Simferpol, Crimea. Now Hlybochytska 33/37 02000 Kyiv, Ukraine

By appointment

Drive about 30 minutes east of Simferopol, on the main road to Feodosiya

In 2012, when this photograph was taken, Crimea’s leading cermicist, born of German father and Tatar mother, had turned his adobe house and garden, with its hazel basketwork borders, into a delightful artisan’s centre.

The house was on the edge of a rustic village of single-storey houses with the improbable name of Akropolis, on the main road midway between Simferopol and Karasu Bazar. An arched gateway, in which logs are neatly stacked, led out to the empty steppe.

Rustem goes for bold, chunky forms. The motifs may be inspired by the Iznik/Kütahya repertoire, but he has developed a distinctive pallete: flatter and more restrained in tone than the brilliant underglaze-painted work current in Turkey, and closer to that of 19th-century European tiles. Blues, yellows, reds and greens are often outlined in brown, recalling the pre-Iznik cuerda seca work found in the Murad II Mosque in Edirne. His tile panels were in great demand on Crimea’s fashionable Yalta Riviera. Rustem also produces glazed, unpainted classical pottery.

The artisan’s centre that Rustem had created was built round a traditional, prettily planted garden courtyard – the perfect role model for Crimea’s budding small hotels. His ewers and jugs were stacked here and there, and the bare, adobe walls of the workshop boasted a spectacular array of tools. The whole place was a work of art in its own right, and well worth the drive out of town.

Rüstem has since relocated to Kyiv.

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