With her own studio, high-profile commissions and a national exhibition, Yasemen Hussein still can’t quite believe how things have turned out.
The talented mixed-media sculptor attributes her success to a lot of hard work – with a little bit of luck thrown in.
After graduating from the University of Wolverhampton in 1994 with a BA (Hons) 3D Glass degree, she developed her unique pieces while spending time waitressing, restoring antiques and working in a theatre.
Since setting up her studio in Sydenham London, in 2009, her career has rocketed.
“If someone had told me 10 years ago what I would be doing now, I’d never have believed them,” she says.
One of her most exciting projects to date is the Pleasure Gardens, an exhibition at the Museum of London alongside the renowned milliner Philip Treacy, which opened at the end of May this year.
Yasemen designed 22 striking metal hairpieces to wear his hats, forming a permanent exhibition at the venue.
It is billed as the perfect example of when fashion worlds collide, as Philip Treacy’s 21st century hats are seen as the contemporary accessories for a Georgian masquerade, circa 1760.
The backdrop to, and theme of, the Pleasure Gardens is a masquerade in a Georgian Pleasure Garden. One of the party-goers wears a copper ‘antlers’ head-dress, created by Yasemen, and inspired by Diana, the goddess of the hunt and the moon, which was a popular fancy-dress costume of the era.
Yasemen fizzes with energy and enthusiasm and is delighted with the response the exhibition has received.
Other notable work includes catwalk shows for American lingerie giant Victoria’s Secrets. It was at one of their shows that she saw Will-i-am from chart-toppers the Black Eyed Peas. She plucked up the courage to ask him to look at her work, which included striking neckwear. The result was a commission for a gold collar for the star, with Yasemen flown out to LA. The singeris wearing the collar on his worldwide tour.
Yasemen can turn her hand to many different materials – welding steel, copper, brass, concrete, wax, clay, wood, glass, even wool – to fashion her intricate creations.
She also takes private commissions and actor Rupert Everett collects her work.
Always busy, another potential project in the pipeline is for hair stylists Toni and Guy, showcasing hairstyles that made them famous in the 80s.
Originally from Castle Bromwich, Yasemen is full of praise for the skills and advice she gained at the University of Wolverhampton’s School of Art & Design.
She enthuses about her lecturers, Stuart Garfoot and Keith Cummings, and they are delighted with her success.
“I loved it at Wolverhampton. I had a lot of support,” says Yasemen.
Stuart praises her talent and says she continues to inspire students at the School: “She was an absolute and total individual. Her work is unique and has influenced students here today.” He came across some of her work by chance after she graduated and has stayed in touch with her.
After graduation, Yasemen went on to Illinois State University in America where she completed a Fine Art Master in Glass Sculpture. Impressive commissions then started to come her way, including striking garden sculptures. Award-winning designer Fran Forster commissioned her to make an art-deco style glass window for her perfumed garden at Hampton Court Palace Flower Show and as her profile grew, more opportunities presented themselves.
Living and working at her studio, Yasemen is consumed by her creative drive and is passionate about everything she does.
She says: “I am always eager to be in the process of making, I get energy from the decisions to be made from physically working with materials.
“The learning process keeps the fire in my belly burning and the sense of joy I get out of creating something that is beautiful to my eye is my whole impetus – just because I can.”
For more information about Yasemen see: www.yasemenhussein.com
To find out more about the exhibition see: www.museumoflondon.org.uk
Picture: Philip Treacy and Yasemen Hussein. Museum of London. John Chase.