Esra Plümer Bardak is an art historian, researcher and active member of non-profit associations.
Born in Cyprus, Esra was raised between New York, USA, and Nicosia, Cyprus until moving to England in 2002. After completing her bachelor’s degree in Art History and Theory at the University of Essex, Esra continued her graduate studies at the University of Nottingham and was awarded an MA with Distinction. Returning to Cyprus for a year in 2008-2009, she worked as a cultural specialist consultant for the USAID funded project Supporting Activities that Value the Environment, whilst lecturing part-time at the European University of Lefke.
Esra received a European Union Grant to begin her doctoral studies in England and was awarded a scholarship by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) for the remainder of her PhD (completed in 2012). Between the years 2009-2013, she worked at the University of Nottingham as Teaching Assistant, Guest Lecturer, and Part-Time Lecturer. Throughout her doctoral research and its completion since Esra has been awarded research grants to France and Germany and has been invited to speak at conferences and symposia in institutions around the United Kingdom and Europe.
From 2013 onwards, Esra became more involved in arts organizations, working with art galleries and civil society organizations. Between the years 2013-2015, she completed a PG-Dip in Arts Management and Cultural Policy at the Queen’s University, Belfast to support her breadth of expertise. In 2015, Esra accepted a full-time lecturer position in Cyprus. Alongside academic teaching, she continued her engagement with local art organizations, as a board member, art consultant, and mentor; generating and taking part in collaborative projects that have a social focus, as well as consulting on project development and execution.
In 2017, she joined the Arkin University of Creative Arts and Design (ARUCAD) founded in the same year, actively taking part in the development of programs and curriculum-formation under the Faculty of Arts. Esra established and run the Plastic Arts Department as Head from 2017-2020, during which she worked on the successful completion of the international cooperation agreement between The Plastic Arts Department at ARUCAD and the Manchester Metropolitan University’s Department of Art (2018). Esra continues to hold the position of Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Arts, Arkin University of Creative Arts and Design, Cyprus.
In 2018, she helped develop the project ‘Art for All’ funded by the European Union Civil Society in Action IV Grant Program implemented by the European-Mediterranean Arts Association and served as an Art Consultant until its completion in 2021. One of her key roles in the project was to develop, oversee and coordinate the production and publication of a total of six books for various age groups as Series Editor of ‘EMAA Art Publications’.
Esra’s academic research interests include canon studies, new approaches to modernism, and decentralising models in art historical interpretation and writing. She has curated exhibitions in the UK and Cyprus as well as published several monographic studies on artists including the first comprehensive book on the life and work of German artist and writer Unica Zürn published in English (2016, IB Tauris, paperback edition 2022, Bloomsbury), extended essays on Turkish Cypriot artists Gönen Atakol (2014, EMU Press), İsmet Tatar (2015, EMU Press), Sümer Erek (2019, Revista de Estudios Globales y Arte Contemporáneo) and Ayhan Menteş (2020, Journal of Art History), as well as on rethinking art history narratives in the Turkish Community in Cyprus (Contemporary Art in Cyprus, 2021, Bloomsbury Press). Recent publications include her book ‘Meaningful Coincidences’ which focuses on the visual work of Ayhan Menteş’ (2022, EMU Press), as well as Ayhan Menteş’ autobiography prepared by Esra as editor (2022, EMU Press).
She is a member of the Technical Committee on Culture in Cyprus, a committee established by the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders under the auspices of the United Nations, to address issues that affect the day-to-day life of people, by encouraging and facilitating greater interaction and understanding between the two communities. Other vocational memberships include the Association of Historical Dialogue and Research and the European-Mediterranean Arts Association based in Cyprus, the International Society for the Study of Surrealism as well as the International Association for Art Critics, AICA Turkey.