Islamic Art in London

Though the cyclone & heavy rain in Oman during 2007 was a shock, it was extraordinary to then holiday in Britain during some of its worst flooding for many years. Fortunately, apart from a short visit to St Antony’s College in Oxford, I was well away from the flooding. This summer two similar collections of Islamic Art were exhibited in London http://www.akdn.org/museums/catalogue.html . In the Ismaili Institute, an exhibition of Islamic Art ‘Spirit & Life’ was my first port of call – much of the material the Aga Khans collection (including the Blue Koran with its dramatic calligraphy) was from the great arc of states around Arabia.

The V&A Ardabil Carpet
The V&A Ardabil Carpet

Apart from audio descriptions of the exhibits, the curators had organized an electronic version of the accompanying book to permit a more in-depth appreciation of the objects. Across the road at the V&A, the Jameel Gallery of Islamic Art http://www.vam.ac.uk/collections/asia/islamic_gall/index.html holds a permanent collection from similar regions. I enjoyed this collection, which has an extraordinary range of material including Ardabil Carpet (acclaimed as one of the most important carpets woven) from Persia.British Library Sacred TextsI was delighted to also be able to look in the British Library where the exhibition ‘Sacred Texts’ was held during the summer. This was, given its name, focused on the religious scripts of Judaism, Christianity and Islam emphasizing the similarities of both the development of these and their subjects.

British Library Quran
British Library Quran

Hopefully at some time there will be a large collection on display from the Arabian peninsula, perhaps in the British Museum to allow an insight into the core or the Arab and Islamic world.

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