1000 years Of Islamic Art: Unveiled At Leighton House London

Islamic Art

An unique Islamic art exhibition will make its UK debut in 2013. For the display Afghan master craftsmen were given access to some of the greatest examples of Islamic art in the world at the Museum of Islamic Art, Doha, Qatar.  In response, they created a series of extraordinary works of their own.  The result is Ferozkoh: Tradition and Continuity in Afghan Art – 18 pairs of beautiful objects, half historic on loan from the Museum of Islamic Art and half contemporary works by newly-empowered Afghan craftsmen, that reveal how the art of the past can inspire the future.

Ferozkoh: Tradition and Continuity in Afghan Art, is the result of a collaboration between the Museum of Islamic Art (MIA) in Doha, Qatar and students and teachers from the Turquoise Mountain Institute for Afghan Arts and Architecture, in Kabul. The result is a striking exhibition that represents real social change. The exhibition will be on display at Leighton House Museum in London from 15 November 2013 until 23 February 2014 as part of both Qatar UK 2013 Year of Culture and the Nour Festival of Arts.

Curated by MIA’s Dr. Leslee Michelsen, a specialist in the arts of medieval Iran and Central Asia, Ferozkoh’s unifying theme is the preservation and continuity of the traditional arts of the Islamic world – in both themes and materials – in the present day, and the role of education in both transmission and translation.

The Ferozkoh exhibition which means “Turquoise Mountain” in Dari, comprises 18 pairs of objects. Half are historical artefacts from the MIA collection; the products of four great dynasties with connections to Afghanistan: the Ghaznavids, Timurids, Mughals and Safavids. The other half of the works were created specifically for the exhibition by Turquoise Mountain craftspeople in response to, and in conversation with, the historical objects.

During this unique project, craftspeople based in Kabul were invited to MIA to view and handle pieces from its unique collection. This visit resulted in a dialogue between past and present, old and new, the richness of tradition and the vibrancy of modern Afghanistan.

Graham Sheffield, Director of Arts for the British Council and Chair of Qatar UK 2013 Year of Culture Steering Committee said: “The works which the artisans from Afghanistan have produced in response to pieces from the MIA collection are inspiring. This project is such a good example of how cultural exchange can generate positive change. This is why we felt it was such a fitting exhibition for Qatar UK 2013 Year of Culture which aims to cultivate mutual recognition, understanding and appreciation of Qatari and British cultures through events that entertain and educate.”

Aisha Al Khater, Director of MIA, said: “Ferozkoh fits perfectly with MIA’s mandate to shed light on our past to inspire our future. In this exhibition, MIA objects were more than just static beauties behind glass – they inspired Turquoise Mountain students and teachers to create exquisite pieces of art that represent the continuation of Islamic artistic tradition and showcase artisans living and working in the 21st century. This exhibition demonstrates the power of museums as dynamic institutions that are alive and vibrant agents of real change”.

Shoshana Stewart, CEO of Turquoise Mountain said: “The exhibition has transformed the Afghan artisans who created these pieces; it gave them direct contact with one of the greatest collections of Islamic Art in the world and a challenge to create to a quality not seen in Afghanistan in their lifetimes.

“Kabul’s historic old city was once a crossroads of civilisations, and Afghanistan’s artisans were famous throughout the region. But decades of conflict had almost destroyed the crafts industry. These artisans represent hundreds who work with Turquoise Mountain at the Institute for Afghan Arts & Architecture, training the next generation of artisans and rebuilding the country’s craft industry. We are incredibly grateful to the Museum of Islamic Art and Leighton House for the opportunity they have given to help rebuild this industry and bring in commissions for the artisans.”

Opening at Leighton House on 15 November 2013, Ferozkoh: Tradition and Continuity in Afghan Art is a Museum of Islamic Art, Doha, exhibition which forms part of both Qatar UK 2013 Year of Culture and the Nour Festival.

Where: Leighton House Museum, Holland Park, W14 8LZ

When: 15 November 2013 until 23 February 2013


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