Conversations with Layers of Unseen Worlds

Work in progress by The Sinistry


In the ever-evolving landscape of contemporary art, the emergence of collaborative duos brings forth a unique synergy. Fashion designer Izzet Ers (born 1975, Turkey) and fine artist Bert Gilbert (born 1979, UK), the enigmatic duo known as The Sinistry, highlight the boundless possibilities when two creative minds converge. Starting as a cross-disciplinary experiment, they create works that defy easy categorisation and go beyond what is traditionally associated with visual art, encompassing installations, sculptures, textile creations, painting and works on paper.

We work to communicate the skin-like layers of unseen worlds and unspoken words, the filters behind and between what is said and felt which can often be in conflict or contrary to the original context. The work becomes totemic, textile pieces, soft sculptural, paintings and installations, all employing traditional and experimental techniques. We are interested in exploring what is considered to be masculine and feminine actions and mark making, then blurring that line.


Detail from Your Days Are Numbered, 2019-2020 Mixed Textiles, ink, paint and mixed threads.
Spirit Ladders 2019-2021. Hand Twisted scrim

Their approach has echoes of a surrealist practice with Jungian psychology deeply embedded into its core. In particular holding the tension of opposites, alongside the masculine and feminine and the syzygy of these two aspects. Actioning the conditions for Jung’s postulated “communication of the conscious and unconscious minds, the conjunction of two organisms without the loss of identity.”

Ers and Gilbert draw inspiration from a diverse array of sources, their individual interests and obsessions are collectively explored at the meeting point of their joint practice. They are fascinated by the meanings and mythologies that underlie alphabets (letters, numbers, glyphs, runes) and ancient symbols. Recurring symbols in their work include eyes, mouths, snakes and hands (all of which Gilbert was already exploring in her artistic practice before The Sinistry).

Detail of The Sinistry's work in progress

Ers and Gilbert’s serendipitously met at a late night after party in London, where the latter was DJing. Although prolific in their own practices, their shared humour drew them together and their partnership began in 2016 out of Gilbert’s studio in Seven Sisters. Both have degrees from Central St Martins, where Ers studied fashion and Gilbert fine art.

The duo reminisce on the creation of their name, mentioning sinister means ‘left’ in latin, and the left side of the brain is responsible for intuition. They note that people can see intuition and intuitive actions as suspect, because there isn’t a factual or rational explanation behind them. Subsequently they came across the similar-sounding word ‘synastry’, which is the comparison of astrological birth charts of two people to determine their compatibility in relationship, which resonated within their practice.

Gilbert’s long standing multidisciplinary bodies of work, centred around investigating altered states, re-embodiment and the esoteric alongside Ers’ exquisite techniques and couture fashion background, where the perfect alchemical cauldron to create a new practice infused with primordial energy, mystery and symbology.

However, the duo stress that humour and word play as a crucial element, a sword of truth that has the ability to cut through complex issues and offer a more playful way of seeing and feeling the world through their work. Before each new body of work begins, a manifesto is created, that the subsequent works narrate.

Their process involves exchanging each others energetic interpretations eventually merging together, similar to the game of Exquisite Corpse [the collaborative drawing game invented by the Surrealists in the 1920s].


Manifest I, 'Lay your rage to rest', 2021, Editioned Print,Carpet Variation coming soon

Together they underscore the importance of trust and a willingness to let go of individual ego in service to a joint venture. They state that “staying in the tension and not separating” when making an artwork is key.

Holding this tension as a golden thread, a pathway to a way of discovering a new expression or new form of communicating.’

Their last show The Game of Life (2021), curated by James Putman, was a multi-part installation that took over a huge warehouse space in east London, characterised by a dynamic interplay where actions and motifs seamlessly intertwined. Other projects include Liberation Suits (2017), shown at The Center Cannot Hold curated by Suzanne Egeran in Istanbul, a series of haunting textile sculptures energetically painted and intricately embroidered, has enigmatic titles (taken directly from their Manifesto I.) such as ‘Your New Skin Is Nearly Ready’.

Their artistic journey is not merely a partnership but an alchemical amalgamation, where individual elements combine to create something greater than the sum of its parts.

Currently they are working on their new series ‘The Maddening’ , which they are suitably secretive about, aiming to finish these works early 2025.



Liberation Suits. 2017 Numbers I-VII Paint and ink on canvas, cotton and wool thread stitchwork and silk ribbon appliqué