Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Belgin Bozsahin, Clay Sculptor, Tells Her Story

I am an artist who enjoys using clay in a self-expressive way in the form of reliefs, sculptures and installations. My creative journey started with painting in oil colours at a very young age. With a fine art background from my birth city, Istanbul, Turkey, I spent many years working on figurative paintings, especially focusing on the female form.

Some years ago I came to a decision to turn from painting to a more tactile three-dimensional expression. Painting did not satisfy my need to convey a passion to capture and satisfy some deep inner experience.

My materials changed from paint to paper, to yarn and fabric later on, and then to much harder materials like marble and mosaic. My work became more textured and this movement between different dimensions has become a natural progression in my development. The enjoyment of ‘constructing’ and surface designing large scale works became a catalyst which inspired me to go back to college to do a ceramic degree at Camberwell College of Arts in London, England and The Academy of Arts in Bergen, Norway.

I have found clay to be the most versatile and expressive material to work with and I have now developed a way to construct my forms in porcelain clay, focusing on the continuous theme around ‘contrasting attributes of internal and external spaces’ in which we, as human “beings”, occupy. 

Existence, the Self and Inner Journey, are the wondrous themes that strongly resonate with me and I find endless inspiration to create my work from them. I find the female body to be the most powerful and expressive form to work with. I try to make work, which celebrates life. 

Having been born and brought up in Istanbul, and then having lived in London for the last three decades, I am aware that this multi-cultural background has had an impact on my cultural identity. My work makes a statement “what is common to all human beings is our relationship to what is innately within us” and I ask the question “what are the layers through which we evolve.  It is a universal theme with cultural influences in design and colour. I hope these influences are seen in the way that I have expressed these themes through my work. 

I work with the notion of personal evolution and changes that relate to all, women and men alike. I later recognised that the answer is in the material I use – the female form in porcelain, both the highest domestic “china” material and finest art material, my own human shape and contextual experience.  

Sometimes the inner journey is very challenging as you would expect, but when I look at my work over the years, I see it has reflected a joy and beauty that I have found in my own personal quietest moments. 

I use the forms, the spaces, the glazes, the crack or smooth surfaces to convey with as much elegance and simplicity that I can, the reflection of my life. In one of my works, the crusted and soft surfaces carry the small hand in that tiny opening upon our chest, or gold that become visible through the cracks symbolises the layers we evolve through - our feelings and experiences and what lies beyond the surface.

Alongside the figurative work I immensely enjoy creating installations and abstract work. I especially enjoy creating installation work where the public is invited to be a physical part of it and experience what is offered in a visual sound and touch experience.

An example of my abstract work in the form of wall pieces came about from a need to work intuitively. After working on figurative work for some time it become clear to me that when I have something personal to express it takes the form of figurative work, yet I didn’t always have something I wanted to say through my work but still had the need to create. I needed to step back and allow myself to work intuitively to express what I feel without form. 

I always liked collages especially with found materials. The reason for that become clearer when I was asked to discard a small box of hand-formed porcelain pieces and found I could not, I embedded them in a slab and found a medium to perfect an expression of my heritage, aesthetic and irrepressible joie de vivre.

I grew up with the memory of my grandmother’s stories about how life was challenging after the war and the poverty that most people experienced.  It was clear that those challenging times did not stop her making exquisite rugs and bed covers using leftover fabrics. Some of these tiny pieces of fabrics came from zips and trimmings.  She cared for scarce materials. I see now that I was influenced by those values – to create rather than throw away which, was quite the opposite to consumerism. 

As a dedicated jazz music listener I feel these ‘pieces’ are improvisational works like the music itself.  At a quick glance my oeuvres may seem completely different from each other yet for me they “inform” each other and I see the binding thread between them. I see the theme of celebration through experience and culture – of being a human being and of being alive.

In recent years I started to make a series of quirky object d’arts that are inspired from my art projects. I soon realised that making “products” is a completely different ball game. It has its own challenges yet there is fun to be had. To See my “objects” being used in daily life is very satisfying. This branching out gave me the impetus to open a shop on Etsy

I continually make and show my work. My desire is to do an artist residency as well as work on collaborative projects with other artists, both in the UK and abroad.

I have exhibited my work in Istanbul, London, Ireland, Norway and on the QE2 ocean liner.  Many of my works are in private collections in Turkey, UK, Ireland, Portugal, Oman, China, New Zealand, Australia and the USA. 

I feel I am a success story in my life, not because I am educated, or Turkish or have lived half of my life in England, or believe or not believe in this creation through a particular belief system but because “I am”. First I am a human being and then a woman and then an artist. And I have a voice and I have the power within me to use my voice to say something meaningful in my life, something that matters, that is beautiful, that is powerful.

Thank you for taking the time to read my story. I wish you all a wonderfully successful creative life.

This is Week 7 of 52 Artists in 52 Weeks. Thank you for reading and sharing Belgin’s story today.

Belgin will be showing her work March 22 - 25 at MadeLondon Canary Wharf. If you would like an invite, please sign up via her news page at her website or drop her an email.

You can also see more of Belgin’s work on display at the following venues:

Wolf and Badger 
Modern Art Oxford
Bermondsey Fayre 

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Petra Teršlová, Painter, Tells Her Story

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I have been interested in art since my childhood. My parents took me often abroad so I had a chance to see different cultures including various forms of art. For its freedom and variety, both in culture and art, I fell in love with London, which I have visited every year since I was about 15 years old. I enjoyed the time spent in the National Gallery and Tate Modern watching and analysing the paintings. Although I admired the talent of those great artists such as Turner, Gogh and Sisley, I myself couldn´t paint at all.

Dream, oil on linen, 70 x 70 cm

My first attempt to paint was just several years ago while I was studying law at the Charles University in Prague. The truth is that I really enjoyed my studies. On the other hand; however, I felt I needed to balance my life with some different activity, totally unrelated to law. I experienced a very urgent desire to have a break from loads of thick books, complicated and constantly changing laws and many not very easy-to-digest cases which had to be read and learnt. At that time I relaxed doing sports, but then it somehow was not enough. I felt that I needed to be active in some other - more creative - way.

New Beginnings, oil on linen, 70 x 90 cm

I gave painting a chance - it was playful, colourful, free and spontaneous. I found the whole new world to discover. At the beginning I struggled a lot because of the lack of any art education. But I was eager to learn and experiment on my own with different media and techniques. However, I felt that I could have made much bigger progress if I had taken classes with real artists.

Fragments, oil on canvas, 50 x 60 cm

During my studies at the Charles University and after my graduation I had an opportunity to attend many art courses at The Art Academy in London. I was lucky enough to meet and learn from excellent painters such as Tai-Shan Schierenberg, Brendan Kelly, Catharine Prendergast and many others.

Since then my work developed rather surprisingly from very joyful and colourful cityscapes to much darker, and mysterious places. What hasn´t changed is my interest in architecture, urban, industrial and derelict places that some would rather avoid. These places, structures and machines that I like to paint may not be in operation anymore yet they are endowed with very special atmosphere and spirit - a strong energy that is left.

Escape, oil on canvas, 70 x 90 cm

My paintings are oscillating between reality and my imagination. I call them “unknown landscapes” or “non-places” because you cannot clearly identify them. Where are they? Is it night or is it morning? Is it warm or is it cold? Something is not quite right here and it is difficult to say what it is.  This is what I admire in paintings in general – the ambiguity, obscurity and mystery.

As for the painting process, my works are usually based on my own photos, sketches, videos and even memories of the real world; however, the final works are never simple copies of my reference images. Quite the opposite, they have a very different feeling and an almost dream-like quality to them. I never know what the final painting will look like and that is also what I enjoy. I start with one idea but as I progress with the painting I come up with more thoughts, which I try to incorporate.  Thus the final piece is a combination of my fantasy, my interest in the mystery, “the unknown” and my reference images.

Garbage, oil on canvas, 60 x 80 cm

Although my focus is on the half-real half-imagined scenes, I began experimenting with semi-abstraction. Thus in my portfolio you can see paintings like Garbage, Fragments and New Beginnings. In spite of the fact that they may vary in subject matter, they each have one thing in common –  it is always something very complex and chaotic such as ruins or even a dump. The more complicated the scene, the better in this case. But rather than painting every single detail, I am interested in the variety of shapes, colours and how the materiality of paint can evoke a texture of the chosen object.

Isolation, oil on canvas, 70 x  90 cm

This is Week 6 of 52 Artists in 52 Weeks. Thank you for reading and sharing Petra's story today. To connect with Petra and see more of her work, please visit the following links:


Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Anita Wexler, Mixed Media Visual Artist, Tells Her Story

I grew in a small town in Illinois; surrounded by cornfields and pastures. It was a nice quiet place to grow up in. It was scenic and beautiful, though unfortunately my family didn’t embrace the arts. When I was five years, I wanted to be a ballerina and my family just laughed. A few years later, I wanted to learn to play the piano and my mother asked me, “Do you see a piano anywhere?” So I realized my resources were pencils and notebook paper. I would draw and doodle in my classes to help me to focus. Eventually, my art teacher gave me a few pieces of drawing paper and that was my start as a visual artist.

I loved my small farm town but I just dreamt of more. I wanted to explore the different cultures and locales around the world so I joined in the U.S. Navy after high school when my parents made me turn down an art scholarship. I endured some rough times, but thankfully I ended up moving to New York City where I attended Parsons New School of Design and Bank Street College of Education, after receiving a scholarship that paid half of my tuition. Later, I went back to school and received my M. Ed from National Louis University.

My art is a reflection of my life on a personal level. I have faced financial, emotional and heartache just like so many others and my paintings are chunks of time on canvas or paper. I have travelled to over 30 countries; however, I have so many more places that I want to visit.  

My artwork is influenced from my travels and from my mentor, Philipp Valy out of New York, as well as by the Masters, Hieronymus Bosch, Dorothea Tanning and Max Ernst. From this I have created by own style of of "Primitive Pop".  

My Native American roots echo through my artwork as I create outdoor sculptures in my ‘Totem Series,” which is a contemporary twist of Native American totem poles, my drawings and my paintings. 

I am a mother of three amazing children, who are my biggest inspiration. My hope is that I will make them proud of me. I am an Art teacher at a High School and a full-time artist/illustrator. I teach my students drawing, painting, and other art forms. 

This is Week 5 of 52 Artists in 52 Weeks. Thank you for reading and sharing Anita's story today. To see more of Anita's work and to connect with her, please visit the following links: