Sculptor Nermine Kashef finds dreams not cries in skulls
Skulls can be made aesthetic.
Mohammad Yusuf, Feature Writer
Nermine Kashef is a sculptor and artist and founder of Skullpture Nation by NK. She has always been passionate about arts and culture and has had the chance to work with renowned artists and talents for over ten years now, despite having a career in business.
According to the confession, she has stepped away from the spotlight – but has made the decision to focus more on her art in 2022 and unleash her love for skull carving and, what’s more, share it with the world.
She aims to shine a positive light on the skull figure and make it aesthetically pleasing, so that people see the beauty she sees in skulls through her eyes. Skullpture Nation by NK is an online gallery where Kashef shares his “skullptures”. She has just launched her new collection called “The Chalk Collection – A Spin on a Classic Classroom Favourite”. This is a collection of pastel colored skulls, inspired by colored chalk.
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“I draw inspiration from everything around me, which definitely includes nature and animals,” says Kashef. “But not only that,” she adds, “I see beauty in everything I encounter on a daily basis; I am inspired by the little things that others might find ‘normal’ or ‘not special’”. Bolstered by Walaa Biltagy of Willy B Photography, scintillating – skulltilating – photographs, Kashef speaks to Gulf Today
Why are you drawn to skulls as an artistic medium? They have a rather sinister reputation…
I have always been fascinated by skulls for as long as I can remember. I found myself drawn to the shape of the skulls and never questioned the “why” behind it. Over the years I have unwittingly collected various items with skulls on them, printed t-shirts, keychains to mugs, luggage tags, accessories, stickers, etc…even one of my favorite perfume brands had a skull-related logo!
So it looks like the skulls are heading towards me, not the other way around. I also believe that my love of the pop punk, pop rock, and alternative rock genres and artists of the 90s and early 2000s contributed to my inexplicable love of skulls, as many artists used the skull symbol to a colorful, cool and catchy way in their music videos. Nor am I superstitious; I feel like not only various objects have this sinister false reputation but also creatures, like black cats for example, and cats in general, which are actually beautiful creatures with very sentient natures!
Also, crows which happen to be a very intelligent animal species. I feel like we need to open our hearts and minds, educate ourselves, and find out more about what we don’t really know or refuse to accept.
What is the artistic philosophy of skulls? Hamlet had an encounter with a…
I believe that when it comes to literature, skulls represent death, mortality, and the unachievable state of immortality – and with that usually a state of melancholy, gloom, depression, or depression arises. then. However, my personal philosophy when it comes to the art I create is quite the opposite – or at least that’s what I try to manifest.
Do the skulls serve as memento mori or are they just works of art? Or both?
To me, my “Skullpture Nation” skulls represent a celebration of life and a symbol of courage and strength. It is in addition to having a fun and playful side. However, since art is a captivating medium where artists are free to express themselves, people are also free when it comes to interpreting art.
Do you think they will work as decorative/functional pieces? Will they fit into a lounge/meeting room?
They certainly will! I work on making my skulls aesthetically pleasing where even someone who doesn’t like skulls might change their mind and want one as a decorative piece of art that would pop and stand out in their living space, office or anywhere. .
How do you think skulls brighten up living spaces?
Skullpture Nation skulls are aesthetically pleasing with a fun and playful edge; they are versatile and can be used as planters, flower pots, jewelry and small item storage and more. There is a huge world for me to explore when it comes to colours, patterns and mediums; the options are endless.
Will the color be able to soften the possible threat of the skulls?
The colors certainly help with that. This adds to the overall artistic look of the skulls. For example, my new collection, given its pastel color palette and range of colors, instantly took me back to when I was a kid at school, holding in my hand this box of happy chalks magic colors and writing on the blackboard between classes.
Which artists inspire you? Albert Durer, Vincent van Gogh and Pablo Picasso used skull imagery in their works…
Generally “unrelated to skulls”: Vincent van Gogh’s art and story touches me the most. I attended the immersive digital experience ‘Being Van Gogh’ at the Theater of Digital Art in Dubai, and felt like I was part of his paintings. Stepping into Van Gogh’s Starry Night, Almond Blossoms and other paintings with touching stories behind them, listening to the actor tell the story of Vincent van Gogh’s ambitions and disappointments, his poverty and devotion at work – it was truly an emotional and educational experience.
In addition to renowned artists, I would also like to say that there are plenty of artists who are not necessarily so famous or not at all known who inspire me on a daily basis; these artists pour their hearts and souls into their work and on their social media platforms they produce educational content for others to learn from. I am also inspired by my mother, who is a creative and resourceful soul.
I also had the opportunity to work very closely with inspiring artists and exceptional talents, given the nature of my work in public relations and as a publicist at Plus 1 Communications.
Did you familiarize yourself with the world of skulls before you started carving them? Or does your work depend solely on intuition and imagination?
Honestly no. The love of skulls grew with me as I got older; I believe that I just follow my heart, my intuition and my imagination when it comes to my art.
I also love experimenting and the excitement I get from trying to patiently wait to see the end result of every sculpture I make.
As an artist, have you been influenced by surrealism and gothic?
My art is a reflection of me and how I feel. I was influenced by my own life experiences, situations I had to face, my upbringing, snippets from here and elsewhere. I love that surrealism finds magical and uncanny beauty in the unexpected and contempt, for example, and I can strongly identify with that. I’m a big fan of gothic architecture and stained glass.
Will a greater study of archeology – digging up human remains included – help you in your work?
I love this question! I have always been fascinated by the history and Egyptology of Egypt; I would love to visit ancient parts of Egypt I haven’t been to before, and maybe one day join a group of archaeologists who are on a mission to dig up ancient coffins and mummies and document their journey.
You can find Skullpture Nation by NK’s work on Instagram @SkullptureNation and Facebook @SkullptureNation.