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Rustem Skibin

Akropolis Village, Nr Simferpol, Crimea

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

Crimea’s leading cermicist, born of German father and Tatar mother, has turned his adobe house and garden, with its hazel basketwork borders, into a delightful artisan’s centre.

The house is 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, leads 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 oulined in brown, recalling the pre-Iznik cuerda seca work found in the Murad II Mosque in Edirne. His tile panels are in great demand on Crimea’s fashionable Yalta Riviera. Rustem also produces glazed, unpainted classical pottery.

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

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