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.
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…
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.
Our sultan, Yevgen (Jack) and his courtiers weren’t the only one mesmerised by Elena’s dancing in the rose gardens…
…the photographer was too! I have to share these photos – isn’t Elena gorgeous?
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.
You can see more about this artwork in my gallery:
Original, limited edition, fine art prints by Ailene Cuthbertson. Elena is a belly dancer, inspired to dance by one of the greatest love stories in history.