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Sistine Chapel inspires Hackney man to cover every surface of his flat with art

PUBLISHED: 10:34 12 April 2019 | UPDATED: 17:12 12 April 2019

One of the bedrooms in Veysel Baba's Hackney flat. Picture: Veysel Baba

One of the bedrooms in Veysel Baba's Hackney flat. Picture: Veysel Baba

Veysel Baba

From the outside, Veysel Baba's two bedroom council flat in Shoreditch looks like any other, but step inside and you enter another world.

Veysel Baba, pictured in his living room, has spent ten years building up his collection. Picture: Veysel BabaVeysel Baba, pictured in his living room, has spent ten years building up his collection. Picture: Veysel Baba

Almost every surface - from floor to ceiling - is covered with prints and postcards depicting art by some of history’s most famous painters, including Michelangelo, Van Gogh and Monet. 
Alongside the art sits a colourful and quirky menagerie of objects - mostly lined up in neat rows - from children’s dolls and Easter chicks to key rings and cigarette lighters.

Veysel, who is originally from Turkey, spent ten years building his fascinating collection, scouring various second hand shops and bookstores.

Rings, brooches and cigarette lighters are just some of the many objects lined up in neat rows in Veysel's flat. Picture: Veysel BabaRings, brooches and cigarette lighters are just some of the many objects lined up in neat rows in Veysel's flat. Picture: Veysel Baba

In February this year, the 57-year-old completed his marathon project, and is now opening the space up to the public. He’s named it the Sistine Chapel London, in honour of the main inspiration behind his work, Rome’s Sistine Chapel.

Veysel says he started the collection after struggling for years with various difficulties in his life, including depression. He took refuge in alcohol and parties, “hoping to escape from reality”. He describes feeling little meaning in life and no hope for the future.

Even the kitchen floor at the 'Sistine Chapel London' is covered in art prints. Picture: Veysel BabaEven the kitchen floor at the 'Sistine Chapel London' is covered in art prints. Picture: Veysel Baba

One day Veysel heard the famous quote by philosopher Rene Descartes, “I think, therefore I am,” and told himself, “Yes, I also think; therefore I need to prove I exist and I have to leave a lasting work just like authors and painters have done before me. I will leave my own signature.”

Veysel remembered watching the 1958 Charlton Heston film Michelangelo and being fascinated by the fresco paintings of the Sistine Chapel.

Little Easter chicks form part of Veysel's eclectic collection. Picture: Veysel BabaLittle Easter chicks form part of Veysel's eclectic collection. Picture: Veysel Baba

In the years that followed, he would often dream of these paintings, in particular The Creation of Adam, depicting God giving life to Adam with his touch.

Although a socialist thinker, Veysel says he still believes in “some sacred beliefs, mysteries and hard-to-explain supernatural powers and beings,” and felt the sacred hand had touched him in some way.

Veysel estimates his collection of art prints comes to more than 10,000 pieces. Picture: Veysel BabaVeysel estimates his collection of art prints comes to more than 10,000 pieces. Picture: Veysel Baba

He decided then he would create his own, much smaller “sacred temple” using art prints and objects. This would also be his “lasting work”.

Now ten years later, Veysel is keen to share his work with the community and is inviting visitors to his home between 10am and 5pm every Saturday.

The kitchen of Veysel Baba's flat. Picture: Veysel BabaThe kitchen of Veysel Baba's flat. Picture: Veysel Baba

You can also view the extraordinary rooms on his website sistinechapellondon.com, which features a 360 degree virtual tour. Veysel’s next step is to enter the Sistine Chapel London into the Guinness Book of World Records, for the largest collection of art prints in a space of 145sq m.

To visit just turn up at Flat 8, Kinder House, Mintern Street, Cranston Estate, N1 5EJ, between 10am and 5pm on Saturdays. For more information visit sistinechapellondon.com or email veyselbabalondon@gmail.com.

Another of the two bedrooms in Veysel's Hackney flat. Picture: Veysel BabaAnother of the two bedrooms in Veysel's Hackney flat. Picture: Veysel Baba

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