Emel Türkmen was born in Istanbul in 1976. In 1990, she learned how to restore book bindings from Ali Kunduracıoğlu and studied Turkish designs with Hayri Aykutalp when she was a student at Sultan Selim Vocational High school for Girls in Fatih, Istanbul. Besides book binding decorations, Türkmen also learned how to illuminate calligraphy, and developed her skills.

Before finishing high school in 1993, she learned paper restoration works from Saadet Gazi at a class, which was organized by IRCICA, in the Süleymaniye Library, and received a certification. Between 1993 and 1995, Türkmen took an illumination class in the Topkapı Palace Museum. In 1994, she entered Mimar Sinan University, and studied book binding with İslam Seçen, and illumination art with Prof. Dr. Faruk Yaşkale at the Department of the Traditional Turkish Handicrafts in the Faculty of Fine Arts. After her graduation in 1998, Türkmen obtained her professional license from Prof. Dr. Taşkale, and won a Sakip Sabancı incentive award.

Between 1999 and 2001, she taught illumination art at the Fatih Municipality Vocational classes. In 2000, she met the calligrapher Savaş Çelik, and illuminated his calligraphy works and exhibited them in many group exhibitions. Between 2002 and 2009, Türkmen taught illumination art at ISMEK. She has participated in numerous group exhibitions in Turkey and abroad including Kuwait, Tunis, Dubai, Germany, Japan and South Korea.

Her works can be seen in many private collections. In 2008, Türkmen received second prize in the “Al Burda” International Illumination competition, which was organized by the Abu Dhabi Culture Ministry in the United Arab Emirates. Currently, she continues to work at the Hüseyin and Emel Türkmen workshop in Istanbul.


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