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:
GBA & D - DESIGN ROOM
Wolf and Badger
Modern Art Oxford