A romance begins among the roses

Before I continue to tell Hürrem’s story…

Thank you for your support!

Thank you for braving the cold, foggy, Waikato evening to come to my exhibition opening preview! I’m so proud of everything I’ve accomplished so far on my art journey. And I’m stoked to be able to share it with you.

Someone gave me a microphone at the opening preview evening...
Someone gave me a microphone at the opening preview evening…

Special thanks to my dancers and inspiration, Elena and Yevgen (Jack) who drove all the way from Tauranga. They got to see their finished series in person for the first time and they love every artwork (which makes me so happy!)

Unfortunately, Paige was busy as a pointe-shoe wearing bee in dance class all evening. But her parents Craig and Katy came to check out her series. I’m looking forward to catching up with Paige when she has a bit of a break and plotting our next collaboration.

Back to our Hürrem series…

Last time we saw how our heroine was born in Ruthenia, named Aleksandra. She was captured and taken as a slave to the Topkapı Palace and the harem of Suleiman the Magnificent.

The first artwork in this series is set in winter for the dark time in Aleksandra’s life. The bright kalyna berries stand out red against the white snow, hope for Aleksandra’s future, and that she’ll fall in love.

Let’s continue her story:

History knows Hürrem by many names. She was born Aleksandra, but among the Ottomans she was called Roxelana, “the Ruthenian one”, a nickname referring to her Rusyn (Ukrainian) heritage.

She soon caught Suleiman’s attention and became one of his favourite consorts. He named her Hürrem, meaning “the cheerful one”.

You may also see her called Hürrem Haseki Sultan. She was the first to bear the title of “Haseki Sultan”, meaning “chief consort” or “single favourite” of the sultan.

And thus, one of the greatest romances in history begins…

©2017, Ailene Cuthbertson, <i>"My sweet, my rose"</i>. Photograph, 30 cm x 30 cm
©2017, Ailene Cuthbertson, "My sweet, my rose". Photograph, 30 cm x 30 cm

Behind the scenes

With this piece in the series, we’ve moved into spring. Spring is a time of birth and growth – much like how we see Suleiman and Hürrem’s love blossoming.

Detail of ©2017, Ailene Cuthbertson, <i>"My sweet, my rose"</i>. Photograph, 30 cm x 30 cm
Detail of ©2017, Ailene Cuthbertson, "My sweet, my rose". Photograph, 30 cm x 30 cm

Our sultan, Yevgen (Jack) and his courtiers weren’t the only one mesmerised by Elena’s dancing in the rose gardens…

Detail of ©2017, Ailene Cuthbertson, <i>"My sweet, my rose"</i>. Photograph, 30 cm x 30 cm
Detail of ©2017, Ailene Cuthbertson, "My sweet, my rose". Photograph, 30 cm x 30 cm

…the photographer was too! I have to share these photos – isn’t Elena gorgeous?

Elena, dancing in the rose gardens
Elena, dancing in the rose gardens
Elena, dancing in the rose gardens
Elena, dancing in the rose gardens
Elena, dancing in the rose gardens
Elena, dancing in the rose gardens

Next time…

In the next parts of this series, we see how Suleiman breaks centuries of tradition for his Hürrem. The next artwork has a billowing golden dress in the moonlight. Keep an eye out for this one.

Of course, you can see the whole finished series at my solo exhibition! It’s open now at ArtsPost, 120 Victoria Street, Hamilton. Along with Elena and Yevgen’s Hürrem series, you’ll also find Paige’s Giselle series, as well as my fantasy-inspired gypsy girl, belly dancer, fire dancers, mermaids, and more. And I edited together a behind-the-scenes video that you can watch there. Pop in and leave me a message in my guest book. I’d love to hear what you think!

My Hürrem Sultan series with Elena and Yevgen (Jack) hanging on the wall at my solo exhibition at ArtsPost, Hamilton.
My Hürrem Sultan series with Elena and Yevgen (Jack) hanging on the wall at my solo exhibition at ArtsPost, Hamilton.