FilepMotwary: Emel, we met in early 2000 when we were both selected to create a t-shirt design for Absolute Vodka in The Netherlands. At the time you were still working with your sister Yaz and your brand Yazbukey, which now she continues to create by herself. What motivated you to free yourself from fashion in 2010 and focus your creativity into art?
EmelKurhan: Indeed it’s been a long time since first crossed paths. That was the beginning of our brand, two sisters working and creating together. I’ve spent more than a decade working in fashion, and I have enjoyed it a lot to be honest. The transition happened very quickly, I just needed a change so I made the move. It seems that I was ready for this new life chapter and moved to Istanbul to start my new artistic career in late 2010. I love Fashion! Things were different back then, much more creative and people took risks. It was much more fun and creative compared to now.
We always had a tight relationship with my sister and working together was truly great.Before going for my studies at the Studio Berçot, I worked at the print department of maison Christian Lacroix. Watching a drawing turn into a print and then into an outfit seemed like magic and made me realize how much I loved all the layers and process it takes to make fashion. Being a creative person by nature, I always wanted to work as an artist; my job was and still is to tell stories. I just changed the form.
The foundation is the same, it is about storytelling.
FM: Serving two mediums that are very close to each other and yet so opposite. How would you define fashion VS art?
EK: They’ve always been a good duo, the only difference between them is their timing.
FM: How does the previous creative chapter connect with your current state?
EK: I love to watch fashion from where I stand love to buy stuff, mix vintage with the current things, getting dressed and all. This is how I connect with fashion today. And of course, I never miss one of my sister’s show.
FM: In what ways has your art evolved in the past 6 years?
EK: The more I practice art the more it develops itself, in a very organic way. To be precise, I started by doing cross-stitch embroidery. Slowly I mixed it with different mediums such as photography or acrylic paint while I developed different techniques of embroidery. I love to work with fabrics and colors.
FM: Living in Paris for many years definitely offered great opportunities to you, first and foremost to discover the works of others, as it offers a multi-platform for fashion and the arts as well as the link to be internationally known. Yet, you returned back to Turkey, your homeplace. How was the transition?
EM: It just happened very sudden and I didn’t plan anything.
It was a moment when I needed to rediscover Istanbul, such a vibrant city; full of surprises loved the energy. It’s very chaotic and still has some poetry in it, very different from Paris and I just needed a change. In my heart I never left Paris, I’m very attached to it and visit very often and I like the balance between the two cities.
It is very often that I need my Paris dose…
FM: How does France arts scene compare to Turkey, what are the highs and lows?
EK: The Art scene is pretty much the same everywhere, same highs same lows. The most important for me is to be able to express myself through what the lows are that people are over socializing, they want to become popular by using art as an easy link to approach. This way, the artist becomes more visible than the art itself.
FM: What it is about Istanbul you find intriguing?
EK: I live here since a few years now and yet the city surprises me in many ways on a daily basis. Istanbul feels at home. Yet, I still need to get away often, as life in the city can be exhausting.
FM: Where do you seek inspiration? What are the subjects that stimulate you?
EM: I love daydreaming and get a lot of inspiration from life itself, animals, travels, literature, music, movies; I read the newspapers while searching for small and stimulating stories. The inspiration comes sometimes from a feeling even, the trigger could be anything.
I like loneliness, the weight of memory, looking at small things that normally people don’t pay attention. These days I’m very much interested into places, people and things that are left behind, things that tend to be forgotten.
FM: You already presented several exhibitions with your work. What was the most defining moment for you?
EK: The most defining moment was my first exhibition in 2011,because it was the first step to this new chapter of my life.
Every exhibition has a return and each time I learn a lot. It’s a never ending work in progress.
FM: How difficult is to open a dialogue with the audience through art?
EK: The most difficult thing is exposing myself as I put my heart and soul in the work.
My story and the way I share it needs to be clear and precise, it has to be understandable to the audience.
FM: What are the latest projects you’ve been working on?
EK: Actually, there is a lot going on right now. My next solo show will be held in may 2017 in Istanbul and I am also working on two book projects to be released in the second part of next year.