I've been intermittently asked to make busts to commission which I've always declined to do because a) commissions can be a nightmare and b) the suggested subject matter didn't interest me. But a proposal from a very cool new design gallery in Istanbul was very intriguing.
Sanayi 313 asked me to create two limited edition busts with a Turkish theme exclusively for them, giving me complete carte blanche as far as the design was concerned.
A quick image search on Turkish costume and architecture opened a palette of fascinating imagery and I realized it could be a lot of fun to collage some of this together.
Not surprisingly the yashmak was immediately very appealing as it fitted well with my tendency to conceal parts of the faces of my plaster busts, adding an air of mystery and remoteness which I've been interested to explore. (See Librarian)
Iconic Turkish costume element number two of course had to be the fez - with the biggest tassle I could get away with. I've played around with tassels very often in my work - see this post on the tassel subject There's something extremely sculptural about a tassel.
I wanted to introduce a contemporary element in juxtaposition with traditional and historic costume and did some interesting research into current Turkish fashion designers.
I really like the sculptural work of sisters Ece and Ayse Ege and their brand Dice Kayek and I interpreted one of their designs, using folded paper in my sculpture. (Hope they don't mind!)
Naturally I had to include a piece of architecture and Enis Karavil at Sanayi sent me a model of the Galati Tower in Instanbul which seemed a perfect extension of the fez.
Releasing the first cast from the mould
Traditional Turkish costume is elaborately decorated and bejeweled and it was fun sourcing these elements for my sculptures (thanks Primark!)
So this is how bust number one in the commission turned out - introducing - Turkish Girl ......
...and her companion, bust number two - Other Turkish Girl
One element of traditional Turkish costume I was very delighted to be able to reference was the coin decorations on the headgear which I've always found alluring and exotic. (though pretty hard to cast from!).
As with the first bust, it was important to introduce references to contemporary Turkish fashion and I found another interesting sculptural piece by Dice Kayek which had an elemental geometric form which I interpreted with pyramids of folded card (nightmare to attach to the body!!)
For the architectural element, it just had to be Anitkabir, Ataturk's Mausoleum. How the Acropolis would have been designed if Modernism had been invented in the 5th century - and right up my street.
Peeling of the silicone mould from the first cast. Both busts came out amazingly well given the amount of surface detail which needed to be picked up the silicone, not to mention the cantilevered shape created by the architecture on top.
This extremely simple, un-ornamented architectural form was the perfect foil to the intense detailing of the costume.
Making the silicone moulds for both busts - an extremely long winded process as the silicone needs to built up layer upon layer. But thankfully they both turned out well.
The busts are available in limited editions of 10 each exclusively at Sanayi 313 here's an installation shot courtesy of this blog
And here's an interior shot courtesy of another blog (great restaurant too apparently!)
Sanayi 313 - launched in March 2015 - is an extremely cool destination with a fabulous collection of interesting art and design, much of it unique and exclusive to the gallery. So I reckon my first commissioned plaster busts are in good company. (But don't queue up - working to commission is extremely difficult for a long list of reasons!)
Turkish Girl + Other Turkish Girl
See the rest of my Plaster Bust Collection