21 September '16

The Arab British Centre is excited to announce a new course:

Islamic Art and Architecture in Central Asia and Iraq: A Journey to the Legendary Cities of Baghdad, Samarqand and Isfahan

We speak to the course leader Roberta Marin, to find out more about her interest in Islamic art and what students can expect from the course.

Islamic Art and Architecture Course

Roberta, could you tell us how you became interested in Islamic Art and Architecture and how your career developed from there?

After my BA, I had the opportunity to travel extensively in the Middle East and I became fascinated by the rich culture of the countries I visited. I enjoyed losing myself in the souks, wandering inside the major mosques and madrasas in Cairo, Istanbul, Marrakesh and absorbing a new vocabulary of patterns and motifs. I was inspired to do an MA in Art and Archaeology with a focus on Islamic Art and Architecture at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS). It was an exciting year! I met excellent lecturers who were a source of inspiration and thanks to a scholarship by Ralph Pinder-Wilson, I had the financial support to do fieldwork for my MA thesis in Cairo. Following my MA, I worked at the Asian Department of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, collaborated with the Khalili Collection of Islamic Art, and I  taught at various public institutions, such as the Birkbeck College, the London College of Communication, SOAS, Asia House and the University of York. The interest I developed in Islamic art and architecture during my travels and the year as MA student at SOAS have changed my life and I have to admit that they have been the best things that could have ever happened to me!

What will students learn if they join the Islamic art and architecture in Central Asia and Iraq: a journey to the legendary cities of Baghdad, Samarqand and Isfahan? What materials will you be using in class? (Methodology)

The course is purposely designed to allow students to become familiar with the artistic production of Central Asia in the period comprised between the advent of Islam and the beginning of the 18th century. The aim of the course is to enable students to identify the objects and buildings produced in this span of time, and recognise the different techniques employed to embellish them. Teaching in the classroom will be supported by richly illustrated PowerPoint presentations and the course will be integrated with a visit to the Islamic gallery of the British Museum.

What is your favourite piece of Islamic Art or Architecture and why? 

Choosing a single object or a building between the many interesting artworks produced in this area is quite a challenging task. I have to admit, however, than I am equally fascinated by the beautiful domes decorated with tiles of the Timurid period (ca.1370-1507), the animated miniature painting of the 15th-century Herat School and the colourful carpets with a large array of ancient symbols woven by the nomadic tribes that inhabited the steppes of Central Asia.

Islamic Art and Architecture in Central Asia and Iraq: A Journey to the Legendary Cities of Baghdad, Samarqand and Isfahan. 6 October – 10 November 2016 | 6 weeks | 12 hours | Thursdays 18:00 – 20:00 Course Fee: £180. Sign up HERE