Writing in Islamic art explored at HBKU forum

 13 Nov 2015 - 2:25

Writing in Islamic art explored at HBKU forum
VCU-Qatar Dean Akel Kahera delivers the opening remarks at the symposium.

DOHA: Scholars from around the world explored the role of writing in Islamic art and culture during the sixth biennial Hamad Bin Khalifa University Symposium on Islamic Art.
This year’s symposium, titled ‘By the Pen and What They Write: Writing in Islamic Art and Culture’, featured 12 speakers, all leading scholars in the art world. 
They discussed some of the earliest Arabic scripts found on rocks in the desert prior to Islam and the importance of paper to facilitate the spread of the Holy Quran’s message.
Islamic art historian Dr Sheila Blair delivered the keynote address on ‘Writing as Signifier of Islam’.
“Writings in Islamic art are of great interest to people in this region and around the world and it is fantastic to be part of the symposium’s 10-year milestone. We hope to have many more years of bringing renowned art scholars to the symposium,” said Dr Blair.
Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar (VCU-Qatar) Dean Dr Akel Kahera stressed the contribution of the symposium which over the years has addressed the history of Islamic art, architecture and culture, including the role of water, colour, light and writing. 
‘The Birth of Arabic Writing in Stone’ presented by Robert Hoyland reviewed the earliest Arabic script found on rocks on the desert margins of the Levant and Arabia in the centuries prior to Islam. Angelika Neuwirth highlighted that it was the Holy Quran that re-established writing in Arabic script and became a highly meaningful and authoritative source of knowledge due to which Islam has survived beyond the prophets’ lives and spread across continents.
Typography as a building block of written communication and a vital form of expressing cultural identity and ideology was discussed in Huda Smitshuijzen Abifarès’ paper ‘Arabic Typography and the Shaping of a Modern Design Culture’.
Jonathan Bloom spoke on ‘How Paper Changed Islamic Literary and Visual Culture’, while Kristine Rose Beers discussed ‘Reading with Conservators: The Language of Book Archaeology’.
Massumeh Farhad, Chief Curator and Curator of Islamic Art at Freer Gallery of Art, Smithsonian Institution, analysed the intricate link to the written word with images, in her lecture ‘Reading between the Lines: Text and Image in Sixteenth-Century Iran’. The symposium ended with Nasser Al Salem’s ‘Calligraphy Presentation’, which explored non-conventional mixed media forms of traditional Arabic calligraphy.