Science or art: from the earliest days of our education we are pressed to decide to which faction we belong. To find our place we must discover if we possess the calm rational sense and detached curiosity of the scientist or the unbridled creativity and untamed temperament of the artist. Although we accept the existence of the occasional renaissance man with a foot in each camp, the majority of us show just one face to society and become through practice and intent one type or the other. In this sense and many others Gonul Paksoy is exceptional. There are not many designers who have published academic papers on ‘the separation of Tar into its components and its definition’: still fewer hold a PhD with a doctoral thesis on root dye chemistry. Designer, collector and renowned chef, Gonul absorbs elements of old and new, east and west in an astonishingly creative compound. Transformation and the desire to create perfection from materials both base and beautiful is at the root of her work.
How a chemist came to create some of Turkey’s finest clothes and jewellery, publish books on her cooking methods, and stage exhibitions of dolls is perhaps more logical than it appears. Gonul Paksoy was born into a family with distinguished history. Her great-grandfather was Governor of the then Ottoman province of Mossul and one of the most prominent mathematicians and astronomers of his time. Her parents cultivated her appreciation of food, dress, architecture and history. They were a family with a “refined taste, who valued and enjoyed life” but the death of her father when Gonul was just 11 dramatically altered her situation. In her own words, ‘confusion reigned’ and she was entered into a boarding school soon after. Here they no longer saw her as a child and Gonul grew up quickly: “Your toys have been taken away from you. You can’t make ragdolls anymore. You can’t produce anything.” The re-emergence of a range of intriguing ragdolls as part of the Gonul Paksoy current collections is a reaction to her experiences at school, “One of the things I wanted to convey was the need to reflect upon the education system,” she explained..... To read the full article click on the Selvedge Articles icon below form see issue 7.