This month I’m presenting you with an eclectic mix of art forms. Each artist is a change maker in their own right, using their craft to express personal stories and creating change through their own unique practice. They are a powerful reminder of the role our similarities and differences can make in enriching the lives of others.
In the Spotlight
Jumana Moon – Storyteller
“When Jumana Moon was a guest at our weekend school to tell the story of Isra & Miraj (the night journey of Prophet Mohammed(s) the whole room was enraptured, including the parents. Jumana’s storytelling transports you to another time and another place and you really don’t want her to stop and when she does it is as if you have been rudely awoken from an enchanting experience.” – Humera Khan, An-Nisa Society
Jumana Moon is a Muslim storyteller based in London. She received a first class degree in Arabic at the University of Westminster before turning her attention to the honourable craft of storytelling, a vocation inspired by her upbringing in Brussels, Lome and rural Buckinghamshire. Moon describes her stories as originating from Muslim folklore and sacred tradition with tales, myths and legends from lands near and far.
Moon says as a child, her imagination was fed by a good, rich diet of story, mythology, folktales and the changing landscapes she lived in. Having lost neither the love of travelling or stories as a storyteller, moon is able to transport the minds of those who listen to faraway places. With a particular love of stories from the Islamic tradition and heritage – the Qur’an, hadith, seerah and stories from the rich canon of devotional poetry, Moon conveys a wealth of possibilities that remind one of the sacredness of life and the need for purpose and direction. For the last five years Moon’s craft has been used as a tool to facilitate interfaith dialogue through her collaborative work with Jewish Storyteller Adele Moss.
“We often tell stories together, exploring similarities and differences between the two faiths.” –Jumana Moon
Moon’s oratory also reflects an enduring love of stories from the British and European folk traditions and Greek mythology, encouraging an initiative which allowed her to hone her skills by setting up ‘Stowtellers’ a storytelling club in Walthamstow, East London where members meet monthly to share traditional stories.
Moon is an advocate of green faith and presents ecological stories to encourage environmental concern and sustainable lifestyles.
“Drawing inspiration from my European roots and adopted Islamic heritage, my work is a fusion of modern art, Celtic and Islamic design. Reflecting the untidy of humanity, the natural world and a celebration of the ties that unite us.” – Ian Garret
Ian Garret is an artist, designer and teacher based in London. He reverted to Islam 21 years ago and has carved a name for himself with his unique brand of Islamic art. Garret produces digital images of Islamic landscapes inspired by his love of sci-fi and comics. These images begin as paintings before undergoing digital manipulation. His jewellery is also innovative and reflects Garret’s exploration of CAD design and 3D printing. Based on mystical knot work of the Middle Ages, his work reflects the similarities which are embodied in Islamic geometric design. Garret believes it is this theme of commonality that underpins his work and reflects his cultural and spiritual heritages.
Reciting the Qur’an – by Osman Hamdi Bey 1910
“Osman Hamdi was also very famous in the field of museum management in Europe. As a painter he produced many works depicting places in Ottoman society. They almost serve as historical documents. A top official in Europe, the Austro-Hungarian Emperor Franz Joseph, bought one of his paintings.” – Professor Fatma Ürekli, the head of Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University’s History Department.
Born in Istanbul in 1842, Osman Hamdi Bey was a Turkish anthropologist, painter, art historian and archaeologist. He is also known for being the first museum curator in Turkey. Whilst he enjoyed an extensive career in the Arts, Science and Law, he always returned to painting. He played a significant role in the modernisation and transformation process of the Ottoman Empire in the 19th century and is known as a pioneer of painting in Turkey.
Photography & Filmmaking
Maythem Ridha is a photographer and filmmaker who spent his formative years in Iraq before moving to the UK with his family. He has over 20 years’ experience creating award-winning films cataloguing the lives of ordinary people in North Africa and the Middle East. Ridha studied Photography at the University of Westminster and his portraiture and street photography are documented in his recently published book Beyond Moments: Morocco.
Ridha also teaches workshops and master classes in photography and filmmaking. Ridha has won many awards, most notable is the Alhambra Award for Excellence in the Arts.
In Her Own Words
Spoken Word Artist Shifa Choudhury
“Female, born and raised in Luton, writing was always my strength but nobody had encouraged me to pursue this until I went back into education as a young adult and my teacher showed me that someone does care about me. Her faith in me allowed me to start writing and performing and it helped me to stay out of trouble and I haven’t looked back since. My writing is deeply rooted in my experiences of violence as a young person.” – Shifa Choudhury
Shifa Choudhury is a bright and talented young Muslim women who like many artists, uses her craft to explore and make meaning of complex life experiences. Her performance art is powerful and dynamic. Hers is an emotive expression that speaks of vulnerability, whilst confirming an inner strength. Off the stage, Choudhury is quiet and unassuming but with microphone in hand and in full flow, she is a tour de force.