Healing Garments, Ceyda Oskay

Multidisciplinary artist Ceyda Oskay draws on textiles and clothing to explore notions of place and human relationships. Keying into traditions of ritual costume and performance, her wearable art work often explores the way garments mediate between us and the world, playing a central role in the rituals and embodied practices central to the human experience.

Diamonds are forever (and so is plastic) – seen across – is a fragile looking, beautiful raincoat made from plastic, which forces the wearer to consider the harmful effects of consumer culture on their environment. It was created on residency in India, after Oskay observed and experience the effects of climate change – extended monsoons, farmer suicides from climate change affecting their crops, the banning of plastics to manage the problem. It’s also a reminder that the global impact of waste rests on colonial and capitalist structures, as countries such as the UK dump plastic in Turkey and Indonesia.

In her Talismanic T-Shirts project – created during the Liverpool (Alternates) Biennial 2018, and the Istanbul Biennial 2019 – she drew on collaborative practices of ritual and ceremony to explore the symbolic role garments play in our lives. ‘I listened to participants private worries and desires – and [then we] depicted them on the T-shirts, [designing it so that] the worries would wash off, and the desires would stay. The participant was instructed to sleep in the t-shirt for two nights, and then wash it – creating a ritual around the clothing.’ 

One of the things that draws me to creating wearable art is that the clothes become living sculptures and performances as they move and get woven into daily life. The clothes come to have their own past, present and future. I’m interested in interventions that erase the divide between art and daily life, and feel that making wearable art is one way to do this. I like to pick apart notions of fashion/non fashion and work around Conceptual Craft. As my work often relates to migration, I like that clothes and textiles are lightweight and are things that displaced individuals carry with them. Textiles have also in some cultures, traditionally been holders of symbols and stories. 

Ceyda Oskay (Jayda), is an artist, humanitarian consultant, and fashion designer who often works around themes of migration. She is particularly interested in clothes and textiles due to her experience with materials as introduced to her by her grandmother – whose own textile work was gifted by her school in Turkey to the Royal Family for Queen Elizabeth’s wedding. Ceyda is also interested in fiber and materials because the nature of textiles can be intertwined with language and symbolism, and textiles are easily transported, and socially significant in many nomadic, if not other, societies. Her co-written book chapter on the social and cultural significance of Al-Sadu nomadic weaving, has recently been published in All Things Arabia, by Brill Publications (2020). Ceyda also explores the wearable, the ephemeral, the performative, and the ritualistic in her fashion work with recent work like the Climate Change Raincoat: Diamonds are Forever, and so is Plastic (reference: phrase by an Australian designer using plastic wiring to make jewelry), and on-going projects such as the Talismanic T-shirts, t-shirts made specific to the wearer for healing. The shirts were made as inspired by historical protective talismanic shirts that span timeframes and cultures and Ceyda has extended this into a contemporary social practice gesture. Ceyda also designs custom-made clothing with painted, printed, dyed fabric and is always available for commissions for the Talismanic T-shirts, or other daily wear or sleepwear garments, or costumes for dance, circus, or theatre performances upon request. Sometimes, her textile work, inspired by long strips of nomadic weaving made across journeys, accompanies sound installations – such as her Sleepdust: Uber drivers singing lullabies, London March 2019 work. She recently completed an MA at the Royal College of Art, after a long career with the United Nations. 

Below: images from Oskay’s Talismanic T-Shirt workshop