Melike Tascioglu

Turkey, 2021
In my memory, the Bentlage experience started with a dim light coming from a small window from an old farmhouse in the middle of the forest. The first time I was in Bentlage was in 2005, and as a Turkish student studying art in Germany, I had the opportunity to meet artists and students from around the world, who were printmaking artists. I had a chance to talk to them and work with them and I was very much inspired by the exhibitions held in the Kloster Gallery. It certainly had a significant effect on my knowledge in the field, and added so much to my international experience.
A few years after this visit, having in mind how valuable this experience was, I organized to visit Bentlage again, this time as a teacher, with 6 students and 2 other professors. We collaborated on a Project called “minyatür” as a part of the 1st International Bentlage Printmaking Symposium, and aimed to bring art from Anatolia to Germany, as well as learning from other colleagues and artists from all over the world, gathering in this old monastery in the middle of the forest.
As well as an international meeting point for artists, Bentlage is also an art retreat. The calm, beautiful nature surrounding the old monastery building is the most significant aspect of this place. It provides a break from the regular city routine and all the stress and anxiety it brings. Waking up in a room with a forest view, hearing cows instead of cars, taking long morning walks or bike rides is the ultimate way to start the day. This old monastery is the perfect setting for an artist in need of time to focus and work. There are rare opportunities for an artist to have this kind of isolation and Kloster Bentlage provides this to all artists and much more. The spacious studios in Bentlage have high quality printing presses and all the necessary equipment. The social areas, the kitchen, the fireplace and the dining area serve as great places to meet others and be a part of the community after long hours of work at the studios.

My next visit to Bentlage in 2016 was to lead a printmaking research project with a group of professors and master’s students. Bentlage provided the best environment for our research on non-toxic printing methods; we were able to work with various materials and techniques in the printmaking studios. Three years later, I returned to present research and works on artists books, book design and printing to others as a part of the 20th year celebrations. Kloster Bentlage was able to set the stage for these various events, and it has always been a pleasure for me to be a part of them.

I see Bentlage as a second home, a place to run away from the world and work and produce art in peace, a place to meet old friends and new ones. It’s a place to get inspiration from the beautiful nature, the long talks with brilliant artists and the exhibited works at the galleries. In time, the dim light coming from the windows of Bentlage changed into an image of a bright spark of inspiration and created a sense of community and belonging, a loving and welcoming place for all artists.