Shattered Beauty

The Museum of Islamic Arts presents a thought-provoking collection by Turkish artist Felekşan Onar.

There’s beauty in brokenness and Turkish artist Felekşan Onar masterfully captures this in her exquisite mould-blown glass birds collection called Shattered, 2023, now showing at the stunning Museum of Islamic Art’s Damascus Room.

In this captivating display, Felekşan delves into the tragedies stemming from recent earthquakes that ravaged Southeast Turkey and Northern Syria, claiming more than 55,000 lives. Through her work, she grapples with themes of human displacement, exploring the impact of political unrest, war and natural disasters on communities.

She uses birds as an artistic exploration and the Japanese art form of Kintsugi (repairing broken pottery with gold) as a metaphor for resilience and transformation. “Birds have long symbolised lost and displaced souls and, in the wake of this tragedy, I envisioned them as broken and torn apart,” she says. “And just as Kintsugi turns imperfections into beauty through repair, I see the process of rebuilding after destruction as an opportunity for positive change and the emergence of something even greater.”

The inspiration of using glass birds as a medium in this exhibit is deeply rooted in Felekşan’s artistic journey. Her 2017 exhibit, Perched, also featured birds. “The genesis of using birds as a form came from my profound admiration for Louis de Bernieres’ novel, Birds Without Wings… In using glass birds, I sought to encapsulate the fragility and resilience of the human spirit in the face of displacement and natural disasters,” she says.

The Shattered, 2023 collection is beautiful and thoughtful, the gold accents adding to its allure. Each piece in the collection carries its own significance and resonance, but Felekşan is partial to the iridescent pieces that shimmer with delicate hues and luminous reflections. “These hold a unique fascination for me… they capture the essence of transformation and the beauty that can emerge from adversity,” says the artist.

Shattered, 2023 is on display till May 7. Museum entry is free. ✤