‘The Kurds’ is a series of clay portraits and 8 large-scale wooden heads based on members of the migrant Kurdish community in Edinburgh. The first iteration of the ‘Kurds’ was exhibited at the Royal Botanical Garden Edinburgh as part of a wider exhibition entitled ‘After The Storm’. This was a collaborative artistic project curated jointly by Kevin Dagg and Sophia Lycouris which explores traumatic events and resilience through the metaphor of storms. The objective of this series was to use Art as a way of heightening the visibility of this migrant community through focusing on individuals who have survived trauma and hardship.
As a way of exploring resilience, Dagg chose to work with the Kurdish community over a nine month period. The experience was designed to be an informal exchange whereby he worked amongst the group and the sitters were encouraged to talk and move as they wished. As the conversation developed their facial expressions would naturally reflect some of the experiences they had encountered and Dagg responded to these fleeting moments through a fluid use of clay and wood. To many this felt like a cathartic experience to recount their experience and to be recognized by the wider community when many come from a region which does not allow them to even speak their own language.
The clay portraits were then translated into wood using the same freestyle techniques of observation and expressive mark making. This process of translation proved to be much harder and in order to retain the gestural mark-making, Dagg had to revise both his technique and his tools. As the series of heads progressed the mark making became more expressive and the final spark of life was added with the addition of CMYK coloured inks.
The final head from this revised body of work was selected for the Scottish Portrait Awards where it was awarded a Commendation as well as the Glasgow Arts Club Award for Fine Art.