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V&A Acquires Sculpture by Elif Uras RC 90

GRADS IN THE NEWS

Prominent contemporary artist Elif Uras adds to her many accolades with the recent acquisition of her ceramic piece “Pregnant Spiral” by the Victoria & Albert Museum for their permanent collection. The piece is a part of the exhibition Contemporary Ceramic Art from the Middle East at the V&A alongside Uras’s “Ottoman Belly”. Uras states that having her work included in this collection is one of the greatest achievements she can imagine as an artist: “The V&A Museum is encyclopedic when it comes to ceramics. I remember visiting it more than a decade ago with my parents after I had started working with ceramics in Iznik and was so moved to see historical Iznik works represented along with other masterpieces from China, Japan, the Islamic World and Europe.”

Uras explains that the patterns painted on both “Ottoman Belly” and “Pregnant Spiral” are inspired by the Haliç pattern created in Iznik in the 15th century: “In Iznik I was struck by how women dominated the workforce as entrepreneurs, as well as craftspeople and artists. This represented a gender reversal from the 16th century Iznik, when the artists and craftspeople were men, and the works were meant for gendered spaces like the male quarters of mosques and palaces. In my ceramic works I wanted to subvert the tradition and to emphasize what has been missing from its earlier incarnation.”  

Both pieces fit in Uras’s artistic stance quite specifically: “The abstract patterns I appropriate from art historical references allude to lace or beadwork covering certain parts of the body or its entirety. I see these works as questioning or upending the orientalist image of the eastern female as well as a rejoinder to our society's patriarchal attitudes towards the female body. The pregnant vessels were a reaction to the politicization of the female body and its reproductivity.”

Published August 2021

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