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News from the Islamic Art World by Moriam Grillo

Up North

For the last few summers, I have enjoyed visiting galleries in the north of England, namely the Nottingham contemporary, Tate Liverpool, Yorkshire Sculpture Park and the Whitworth Gallery in Manchester. It has been inspiring to experience exhibitions by notable international artists in new spaces far from the madding crowds of London. Being from the south, it is too easy to feel there is no need to journey beyond the capital to engage in the arts and culture. The reality is that the wealth of creative offerings beyond the Watford Gap is worthy of our attention.

The Place to Be

New Art Exchange, Nottingham

 

This summer, I visited the NAE for the first time. It is a unique art space which values diversity by focusing on BME (black and minority ethnic) narratives which contemporary western art galleries fail to do. Central to the urban renaissance of Nottingham, NAE hopes to create a space where marginalised groups in society can engage in creative expression and stimulating debate. Run by African, Caribbean and South Asian artists the centre is a ground-breaking example of the future of arts in the UK as a way of including diverse groups by sharing stories, ideas and new perspectives.

New Art Exchange , 39-41 Gregory Boulevard, Nottingham NG7 6BE

 

In the Spotlight

Tasawir Bashir

An interesting exhibition by artist, Tasawir Bashir entitled Dam Pani (trans. Blessed Water) is on display at the New Art Exchange until September 24. This mixed media installation comprises of a synthesis of the elements water, earth and air, creating a complex and thought-provoking art piece which harnesses conceptual unseen aspects of our spiritual experience and presents them through tangible components. Bashir is currently undertaking a PhD at Birmingham University and an academic/artist residency at the New Art Exchange in Nottingham. His doctorate continues an ongoing enquiry for Bashir which began with the exploration of data sourced from stellar events such as cosmic background noise, star formation, pulsars and solar plasma. His current work shows a development of these ideas. For this work, cosmic information was juxtaposed against the sacred word Allah performed by Nusrat Ali Khan whom Bashir describes as the best qawwali singer of the modern era. To accomplish this, Bashir used Farad Uddin Attar’s Conference of the Birds to create a cultural context. The scientific search for life beyond our known universe offered a tangible coincidence with which to explore the concept from an ahistorical standpoint. The result is a coherent reflection of our intrinsic need to seek out the truth regarding our existence, the necessity to arrive at a point of knowing. With Dam, Pani Bashir again experiments with abstraction as he invites us to explore the essence of our spiritual experience. It is

Tasawir Bashir An interesting exhibition by artist, Tasawir Bashir entitled Dam Pani (trans. Blessed Water) is on display at the New Art Exchange until September 24. This mixed media installation comprises of a synthesis of the elements water, earth and air, creating a complex and thought-provoking art piece which harnesses conceptual unseen aspects of our spiritual experience and presents them through tangible components. Bashir is currently undertaking a PhD at Birmingham University and an academic/artist residency at the New Art Exchange in Nottingham. His doctorate continues an ongoing enquiry for Bashir which began with the exploration of data sourced from stellar events such as cosmic background noise, star formation, pulsars and solar plasma. His current work shows a development of these ideas. For this work, cosmic information was juxtaposed against the sacred word Allah performed by Nusrat Ali Khan whom Bashir describes as the best qawwali singer of the modern era. To accomplish this, Bashir used Farad Uddin Attar’s Conference of the Birds to create a cultural context. The scientific search for life beyond our known universe offered a tangible coincidence with which to explore the concept from an ahistorical standpoint. The result is a coherent reflection of our intrinsic need to seek out the truth regarding our existence, the necessity to arrive at a point of knowing. With Dam, Pani Bashir again experiments with abstraction as he invites us to explore the essence of our spiritual experience. It is

Heritage

Islamic fountain

Early 17th century, Attributed to India, Deccan

Brass; cast in sections, joined and engraved

Dimensions: H 97.7 cm W 67.6 cm L93.2 cm

Some of the forms on this fountain, such as its hourglass shape and the lion mask (kirttimukha) on its spout, can be traced to Hindu sources, but their combination with a strong architectural profile and articulated ribs, places its production at one of the Muslim courts of the Deccan. The fountain was formed from seven separately cast parts soldered together in a fashion reminiscent of contemporary cannon construction. Water would have been forced up through the pipe that projects from the base of the fountain and would have trickled down the outside from the circular well at the top.

Water was an important part of Deccani palaces: buildings were set in or next to reservoirs, and fountains and ornamental pools were placed throughout palaces, including on the upper floors. (Text courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art)

 

Installation

Not My Cup Of Tea

“I always found it difficult culturally knowing where to fit in. I wanted to be a good Muslim, but I was an immediate outcast for being mixed. And I felt guilty about that.” – Sarah Maple

The emerging artist Sarah Maple is as edgy as they come. Although brought up in a Muslim household, Maple’s parents were of mixed religious and cultural backgrounds. Maple’s art conveys her desire to challenge our perceptions of identity, religious or otherwise.

To this end, ‘Not My Cup of Tea’ explores the idea of Britishness against the reality of being Muslim in an environment that seeks to shut down, shut up or shut out those that adhere to values that are not regarded as traditionally British. With wit and sarcasm, this exhibition considers the current debate around integration charting the rise in xenophobia whilst offering a quick ‘fix-in-the-moment’ opportunity to respond. Maple offered her audience a soapbox and megaphone, posters and badges to wear and share. In this way, Maple affords her audience a’ chance to engage, to feel empowered and a chance to make a difference.

‘Not My Cup of Tea’ is on show at NAE until October 1

 

Peace Fountain Project

At the end of this month, there will be an unveiling of a public art piece I have been working on for the past few months. The Peace Fountain Project is the second public art piece I have completed in Luton. Funded by Amal and the Church Urban Fund, the project serves as a catalyst to bring together disparate members of the Luton community and serve as a metaphor for peace across faiths and ethnicities. Based on the geometric pattern known as the Breath of The Compassionate, this artwork joins a growing series across the country which encourages unity and upliftment through art. The fountain will be open to the public from September 30

Stockwood Discovery Centre, London Road, Luton LU1 4LX

 

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