You might not associate London with Islamic art, but surprisingly there is a booming Islamic art scene in London. I love the art community in this city and there is always an event happening related to this art (and other types of art). If you are new in London you might not know some of these. I only knew about these places and activities a year after I moved London! That is why I am sharing
10 Islamic Art Related Activities in London that you might enjoy!
Ps. This post is NOT sponsored! I just love these places, organisations and people! :D
1- Visit the Jameel Gallery in the Victoria and Albert Museum
This is one of the most remarkable collections in London and no visit to London is complete without going into the Victoria and Albert Museum. The Islamic collection in the Jameel gallery space is my highlight. Additionally, it's free to go in, so don't miss the chance!
2- Immerse yourself in patterns in Leighton House Museum
The Victorian artist Frederic, Lord Leighton (1830-1896) had a huge interest in Islamic art, very much so that he made an Arabian hall decorated with Islamic ceramics and calligraphy in his house that is now a museum that is open to the Public for an £8 entry fee. It's a small museum and will take you an hour maximum, but it's worth visiting. I would advice to go there during on of their free tour times or late Jazz nights just to make the most of your visit.
3- Illuminate your trip with an Islamic Illumination Workshop
Islamic illumination is a specific type of Islamic art and usually means the use of gold in painting a traditional patterns. Illumination was used for Qurans and Islamic manuscripts. There are a few people around London that teaches this skill, but you can attend some of the regular Islamic Illumination workshops or organise a private session with Islamic Illumination that fits in with your London trip.
4- Learn the secretes of Islamic Geometry
Just like the suggestion of the Islamic illumination workshop, you can learn more about the art and get close and personal with Islamic geometry that is the basis of most Islamic arts. You can do that by attending one of Samira Mian's regular and short geometry workshops or by booking a longer session with the Art of Islamic Pattern.
5- Bid on Islamic treasures in one of the Sotheby's open auctions
An Islamic art auction at Sotheby is not a usual occurrence, but it happened a few time since I moved to London. Usually the auctioned pieces are true treasures and are not really for the everyday user, but looking at them while they are getting auctioned can be a real treat. Sotheby is a famous art auction house, so there is always something going on. If you miss one about Islamic art you can try their other ones.
6- Get as close as possible to Islamic manuscripts at the British Library
The British Library is the house to a big number of Persian, Turkish, Indian and Arabic manuscripts. If you make an appointment, you are welcome to go see a few and that is basically the closest you can be to such heritage. If you are a university student or doing research in the area, you get a quicker permission, but tweet them or email them for exact details on the process.
7- Awaken your mind with an Islamic art lecture
Many Islamic traditional artists have learnt their craft at the Prince's School of Traditional Art. It's a great institution. One of the amazing thing they do is their monthly lecture series about various art subjects and a lot of them are about Islamic art. By the way, the lectures are only during term times. SOAS university also has a lecture series related to Islamic art referred to as Islamic Art Circle Lectures.
8- Explore Islamic art beyond the visuals
Although a lot of Islamic art is seen and appreciated visually, there are other types of Islamic art that speak to your other senses such the traditional music and theatre performances. They are not referred to as Islamic, but it comes from the same geographical regions, where Islamic art originated. It might be fun to attend some events that organised by Rich Mix , Bagri Foundation and the Arab British Centre.
9- Get to know the contemporary art by Muslims
London does not only exhibit Islamic traditional art brilliantly, but it has contemporary art exhibition by Muslim and Arab artists. Stay up to date with Reconnecting Arts, Art Canteen and Shubbak Festival. They all have annual art events full of activities from art exhibitions to discussions and even concerts.
10- Shop Islamic art in London
Since London is a city booming of all types of art, you can certainly buy Islamic art to take home with you. You can find Islamic items from Turkey and Morocco in the Camden market. Or you can buy from independent Islamic artists who are based in the UK such as Islamic Illumination, Anita Chowdry, Jeea Mirza, and Islamic Art Gallery plus so many others that you can find on Instagram.
Over to you: Which of these activities are you looking forward to the most?
Ps.Feel free to comment more Islamic art activities in London if you know any!