Islamic Art Exhibition Opens – History of Art, University of York


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Posted on 20 December 2023

An exhibition of Islamic art spanning one thousand years is now on display at the University’s Borthwick Centre for Archives in the University’s library.

A fragment of a Mamluk illuminated tafsir manuscript page. Possibly made in Egypt around the 15th century. Image Credit: Paul Shields, University of York.

The exhibition has been curated Dr Richard McClary from the Department of History of Art and Helena Cox, a PhD student in the Department and curator of the University’s Art Collection, and marks the launch of a new Masters in Islamic Art and Cultures.

The artefacts in the exhibition date from the 9th to the 19th centuries and come from lands ruled by Muslim dynasties from Spain in the west to India in the east.  Highlights include ancient coins with ornate calligraphy and vibrantly coloured fragments of ceramics painted with figures and geometric patterns. 

Dr McClary explained “My love of Islamic art and architecture started when I visited Istanbul with my dad as a teenager. I had never seen anything like the huge, open, light-filled space in the great Ottoman mosques. I hope this exhibition can give visitors a sense of the wonders of art in the Islamic world.”

He hopes that the exhibition will reach out to the Muslim community in Yorkshire and further afield. “We want people to know that their rich culture is appreciated, not just in the world where the material originated, but also here in the UK”, he added. 

The new Masters in Islamic Art and Cultures includes what is currently the only specialist graduate module on Islamic ceramics taught in the U.K, offering students the opportunity to examine the ways in which ceramics are used across the Islamic world and its many traditions.

The launch of the Masters was made possible by the donations of books on Islamic art and architecture to the University of York Library by experts in Islamic art  Professor Robert Hillenbrand and Dr George Michell.

An article on the exhibition has been published in the York Press, with a feature soon to appear in the Yorkshire Post. 

“Arts of the Islamic World” is open Monday to Friday between 10am and 4pm until June 2024.



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