Muslim Histories In London During June And July

| 24 May 2006
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picture shows abstract green and blue pattern from calligraphy

Charles Hussein Zenderoudi, Fatiha. Print. Monoprint silkscreen. Iran/France, 1991. © The artist /British Museum.

Major events are taking place in London this year exploring the history and culture of the Islamic world. untoldLondon picks out a few events to look out for during June and July.

Search Listings for Islamic history events this month.

painting shows islamic calligraphy

Hassan Massoudy, Calligraphy illustrating the poetry of al-Arabi. Iraq. © The artist/British Museum.

Big Exhibitions

1. The British Museum's new exhibition Word Into Art looks at the work of 50 contemporary artists from across the Middle East. The linking theme in all their work is the use of words as the basis of their art - much of it Arabic calligraphy. Arabic is learned across the Middle East so that people can read the Qu'ran in its original language. Some of the artworks here reflect words from the Qu'ran, others use the art of the calligrapher to comment on the politics and current experience of people in the Middle East. Parviz Tanavoli's huge sculptures of individual Arabic letters stand at the entrance to the exhibition.

Read the full Middle East Now programme here.

Downstairs, the permanent Islamic Galleries in Room 34 give a history of the Islamic world through art - stretching from the Middle East to North Africa to Islamic Spain.

2. The V&A's Islamic Galleries reopen on July 20th, after a closure of over 2 years for a major revitalisation. The V&A holds over 10,000 Islamic objects: about 400 of them will be on display at any one time in the new galleries. Objects date from the great days of the Islamic caliphate in the 8th and 9th centuries, to just before the First World War.

Smaller events

3. The Festival of Muslim Cultures is running in cities across the UK throughout 2006. Amongst the events in London is a showing of Suad al-Attar's art at the Leighton House Museum which of course has its own magnificent Arab Hall covered with tiles from across the Middle East and encompassing five centuries of Islamic art.

painting shows reclining man in brown tones

Painting by Suad Al-Attar

4. The Foundling Museum commemorates Thomas Coram, who was horrified by the site of unwanted children dying on the streets of London and founded an orphanage in London in 1739. The museum is hosting a talk in July on how orphans fared in the pre-modern Islamic world. The cafe will be hosting Moroccan food and music all day.

5. June 10th and 11th are Open Garden Squares weekend when over 139 London gardens will be open to the public. One of the most hidden and unusual to take part is the garden at the Ismaili Centre. Despite being on the roof, it still manages to accommodate water, flowers and trees - and also attracts lots of birds.

6. The Qu'ran was first translated into English in 1861 by the rector of St Ethelburga's Church in the City of London. St Ethelburga's recently built a permanent tent in their garden, inspired by design from across the Middle East and North Africa.

Where next?

Do you know a museum or landmark connected to Muslim histories in London? Please get in touch and tell us about it..


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