An hour with...Burcu Yuksel

Istanbul born Burcu Yuksel is an advisor in old masters and contemporary art, curator, art advisor, writer and foundation director. She is welcoming us in her Little Venice home filled with Japanese antiques and contemporary art and tells us all about her latest projects, and her addiction to Agatha Christie and clam chowder.



Current Residence:



Founder of Artkurio Consultancy (, curator, foundation director, writer

Exciting Recent Projects:

Taking on the directorship of the Gaia Art Foundation (

How did your art collecting start?

The first art work I ever owned was a gift from my mentor and former boss, renowned Old Masters dealer Derek Johns. He saw that I really liked this exquisite jellyfish glass piece by Steffen Dam and surprised me with it as a Christmas present. Coming from an Old Masters background, I developed a great appreciation for craftsmanship which is reflected in the artworks that I’m drawn to; the first piece I bought myself was a sculptural ceramics wall piece by Australian artist Juz Kitson.

Where does your interest in Japanese antiques come from?

To be honest, although I appreciated it, I had never really looked at Japanese antiques as works that I would collect. My boyfriend grew up surrounded by it and introduced me. I love their connection to nature, respect for materials, exquisite craftsmanship and the folk stories that they represent. You can lose yourself while examining even a small object, they are so detailed and beautifully made. Most of these items were actually used on a daily basis: writing boxes, tobacco pouches, and inro boxes to carry small objects, such as seals and medicines.

How do you feel about the mix of historical works with contemporary?

I love and encourage it. There is a continuation and progress in art history and the historical pieces elevate the contemporary, putting them into context. The key is in the display, the works should compliment each other. There are several works not on view in our flat, simply because they didn’t fit well with the rest. You can keep it playful, find connections and don’t be scared to go for it.   

As a young collector, I think it is important to support young artists and galleries. I’m lucky for living in London and being surrounded by such exciting work. I’ve been a supporter of the Royal Academy as a founding committee member of the Young Patrons, and enjoy going to the Schools shows. I bought works from recent graduates and from the annual Summer Exhibition.

Last Exhibition Seen:

"Opera" at the V&A. A must-see!

Some of your favorite artists:

Such a hard question! I would rather pick a movement or a group of artists. Such as Paris in early 20th century with artists like Rousseau and Cezanne, or 16th century Florentine school. Their colors are amazing. Pontormo is a good example.

Your flat is on fire, you can only salvage one artwork:

A Japanese Art Deco screen that is hanging in the living room. It took us so long to find it.

Next art acquisition:

I really would like another work by Roy Pippin. He is a LA based artist who works with found materials and has recently been incorporating old master paintings. I have already emailed him. I would like to visit his studio next time I am there.  

and If money/space was no object?

16th century sculpture by Giambologna or an installation by James Turrell.

Fiac or Frieze:

FIAC. The Grand Palais is such a wonderful venue.

Basel or Miami:

Basel definitely. The art is much better and i love the museums there.

Venice Biennale?

I try to never miss it. I enjoy the exhibitions around the biennial as well, taking over old palaces and mansions. My highlight this year was the Axel Vervoordt exhibition at Palazzo Fortuny.

Favourite Authors:  

Zadie Smith, Orhan Pamuk, J.G. Ballard

The movie you watched a 100 times:

SF and fantasy movies such as Star Wars, or the Lord of the Ring trilogy.

The TV Series you could totally watch all over again (if not already):

I love Agatha Christie Murder Mystery. Scenery is so beautiful and everybody is so civilized, even the murderer. Though I am not quite in the demographic target (commercial breaks are all about cruises, retirement homes and chair stairlifts).

And the one you are obsessed with now:

The most recent Star Wars movie, The Last Jedi. Can’t wait to watch it!  

You are listening to a lot of:

LBC radio (a favorite among cabbies) in the morning for the news. iTunes playlists otherwise.

Cookbook most splattered with food and grease:

Nigel Slater cookbooks though most of the time i look at recipes on ipad.

You shop at:

There is a Tesco down the road for emergencies, but we like to go to the small shops for food. Clifton Greens has amazing, fresh vegetables and fruits. We realized later on the owner was Turkish. A coincidence (or not)

The restaurant you keep going to for special occasions:

Summer House. It is by the canals in Little Venice so it has that Bosphorus feel I grew up with. And it has clam chowder which reminds me of my time in Boston.

Food heaven?

Anywhere around the Mediterranean.  

Drink of choice:

A gin based cocktail.

Ideal Vacation:

Around the Mediterranean in a boat. You don't have to wear shoes, you can go to breakfast with wet hair. And that’s where I read the most.

The secret place you don't want anybody to know about:

Yakushima island in Japan.

Retirement Plan:

A house by the water with a big garden to grow vegetables and a boat to go sailing.


Photos by Marie Laigneau ( and Alek Sonman