The living quarters of the women (harem) was called the seraglio. They were kept separate for the pleasure of the sultan. Therefore there is a sense of voyeurism in �looking into� these quarters. Though the quarters were often very beautiful they were nevertheless a glorified prison and the women, caged birds of paradise. I have morphed the female figure from flesh to part of the architecture to express the sense of being locked into her surroundings. I like the earthiness of my women friends, their ability to be who they are without apology, which is why I painted in earthy colours. Rivalries there may well have been among women in the seraglio, some of them savage, however women forced to live together in close quarters...
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Recently I was asked what made me choose to paint beautiful (and exotic?) women. For a number of years I worked with severely traumatised women. I can't put into words how deeply they moved, challenged and changed me, instead I paint them in as many different ways as I am able. I don't have them sitting in front of me posing, they bloom in my imagination like flowers, and are composites of the beauty I saw - rare, exotic, multi-layered ... sophisticated, rebellious, glamorous, fragile, soft or a mix of any...
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