Visual Dhikr™
returning to remembrance

Art at Islam Expo 2008 and more...

IslamExpo will host some great artists this year from some traditional masters to some great young British talent.

From the traditional calligraphy wing, you have the likes of Rasheed Butt and Mounir Shaa'rani - two of my favourites, amongst some other great masters of the pen!

Calligraphers’ Profiles:

Sabah Arbilli was born in Iraq in 1977 and is now a British calligrapher residing in London. From the age of 12, he began practising calligraphy, and with an engineering background realised the accuracy and geometrical forms of each letter. Being brought up in a traditional Islamic family led him to read the Holy Qur’an and was inspired by the sacred letters; he then went on to write the Qur’an twice and is currently writing the third one. He has gained recognition for the art of Calligraphy by running workshops in different cities in the U.K since 2000. He takes great pleasure in explaining the beauty of this art and the preciseness of every stroke for each letter. He has participated in many international exhibitions abroad and won on many different levels. His works are collected throughout the world.

Currently studying a Masters Degree at the Princes School of Traditional Arts has opened another direction where he is using various textures and techniques.

Rasheed Butt
of Islamabad, Pakistan, picked up his life's vocation in 1961. Since then he has devoted his everything to Islamic calligraphy. His work in many kinds of medium are displayed at Mecca Gate, Mecca, the Senate of Pakistan, the Shah Faisal Mosque in Islamabad and numerous other places. Rasheed Butt's versatility in various kinds of khatt (Arabic calligraphic scripts) is established in the Muslim world - and beyond: the famous Christie's had put up his work for auction, a distinction not given to any living Muslim calligrapher. The calligraphic inscriptions of Mr. Rasheed Butt fall into four catgories: Quranic, Hadith (sayings of Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him), traditional invocations, and poetry- both Arabic and Persian. He was also the first person in Pakistan to use illuminations in his work. Rasheed Butt has had several one-man exhibitions, and participated in exhibitions in Pakistan and overseas. He has received many awards including the Pride of Performance (Highest Civil Award of the Government of Pakistan) in Arts and Culture.

Haji Noor Deen
is a Chinese eminent master of Arabic calligraphy. Born in 1963 in eastern China's Shandong Province, Haji Noor Deen lectures on the art of Arabic calligraphy at the Islamic College in Zhen Zhou, where he has also established a correspondence course to enable students from all areas of China to study Arabic calligraphy. In addition, he researches Islamic culture at the Henan Academy of Sciences. In 1997, Haji Noor Deen was the first Chinese Muslim to be awarded the Egyptian Certificate of Arabic Calligraphy and to be admitted as a member of the Association of Egyptian Calligraphy. Haji Noor Deen's extraordinary mastery and genius in the art of Arabic calligraphy along with his unique ability to spectacularly deliver his craft to an audience has brought him lecture and workshop invitations from some of the most renowned and prestigious institutions around the world. The display of his beautiful artwork was a tribute to the unification of the Arabic and Chinese calligraphic tradition.

Mounir El-Shaarani
is a calligrapher, designer and writer, living and working in Cairo, Egypt. Born in Syria and graduated from the Faculty of Fine Arts in Damascus (1977). He studied under the great Syrian calligrapher, Badawi Al Dirany. He works as a calligrapher and book designer, since 1968. He has designed several custom typefaces that were used on his book covers and personal work. His work has been exhibited internationally; in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Tunis, Algeria, Morocco, Bahrain, Abu Dhabi, Switzerland, France, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Yugoslavia, India, England and the USA. He is highly regarded internationally for introducing uniquely innovative calligraphic styles and for taking his inspiration from everything around him, old and new. He has emerged at the forefront of contemporary artists, distinguishing his unique character from other artists. He is recreating a genuine art that is almost suffocated by the tides of modernism.

Soraya Syed
Sanders was born and raised in London. Of mixed Pakistani-French origin, Soraya returned to the UK after completing her calligraphy apprenticeship in Istanbul. The art of Islamic penmanship is a bridge between the spiritual and material, the visual and the verbal. It is a living tradition that has the capacity for self-renewal enabling Soraya to adopt a contemporary approach while remaining true to her artistic heritage and the many years of study linking her to the calligraphy masters of the past. Her written and visual work has been published and exhibited worldwide. She read Arabic and History of Art & Archaeology at The School of Oriental and African Studies, and in 2001 graduated from the Masters programme in Visual Islamic and Traditional Arts at The Prince’s School of Traditional Arts, London. She now resides in west London with her husband and baby daughter.

Eytan Tiryaki
was born in Ordu, Turkey, in 1961.She graduated from Ankara University’s Theology Faculty with a Masters degree in 1983. She started her art studies in her school days, and pursued them in Istanbul. She started to take calligraphy lessons from master calligrapher Hasan Çelebi in 1983, and obtained her Ijaza- certificate which described her as “the first woman of calligraphy”. She started to study Tezhip (Turkish-İslamic Decorative illumination art) in 1984, obtaining her certificate of Tezhip from Prof. Dr. Çiçek Derman in 1986. She has participated in many exhibitions in Turkey and abroad. Eytan has studied English and Arabic. After working as a teacher in Qur’an courses under Üsküdar and Ümraniye Department of Religious Affairs, she retired in 2004. She continues to teach calligraphy and illuniation courses, and has organised an exhibition with her students in Altunizade Cultural Centre in 2004.

British Muslim Art Gallery Artists’ Profiles

IslamExpo will also showcase the works of some of the leading British Muslim talent that is shaping the Western Islamic Art scene, some are established and others are young and new - but ALL with great work...

Adam Williamson
is a practicing artist in many mediums. He has been commissioned by HRH the Prince of Wales, Magdalen College, Oxford University, The Foreign Office in Vienna, The Pakistan Embassy, St. Ethelberger’s (Bishopsgate, London) currently undertaking a large piece for the Shakespeare’s Globe London. Adam has traveled around the globe working with artists on Mount Athos, Greece, in France, Spain, Morocco and Turkey. He was the subject of a documentary when he traveled to Malaysia and Indonesia looking at the woodcarving in that area. He is a sessional lecturer at Birkbeck College, and has taught in schools and museums across London. Following a placement as artist in residence at the Prince’s Foundation, Adam now works from his studio in Hackney wick.

Amina Malik
is an artist inspired by a message of Peace, encouraged and motivated by her family. Drawn by the beauty of Arabic and the freedom of expression in creativity and the common desire for Peace – not just the worldly kind but the internal (Heart/Sanity) kind, her paintings are connected to that place of felicity - an expression of conviction - a mirror of reflection, a part of sanity’s equilibrium. She hopes that by sharing her paintings with the world, she can stir feelings of something, somewhere inside, be it the heart or the mind, but hopefully the soul.

Asia Alfasi
is a Libyan-British manga-influenced comic writer and artist. Her works focus around a synthesis of her exposure to Islamic, Libyan, British and Japanese influences. She first gained notoriety when she was the first female to participate in and win the Hi8us Midlands Stripsearch competition with a portfolio based around her character Monir. Since she first started creating comics professionally in 2003, she has released two major publications. JinNarration, was published in the Mammoth Book of Best New Manga, an anthology of works by up-and-coming young British comic artists. Her short semi-autobiographical story, The non-savvy non-commuter, was displayed on the walls of Piccadilly Circus as part of Thin Cities, the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the station's opening. Her first individually-published graphic novel, the two-volume "Native Narratives", will detail the adventures of a young Muslim girl and the events of her life in both Libya and Scotland. It is due to be released by Bloomsbury in September 2008.

Fathema Wahid
is a Printed textiles designer/maker who likes to create printed textiles that are unique and one-off designs. Her collection ranges from fashion wear, such as scarves and wraps to soft furnishing. The medium that she works with mainly is light-weight and transparent silks. The colours she creates for the cloth and the design itself are colours that she has either been working on from something she has seen and wants to re-create in her own way, or simply from her sub-consciousness. Her colour palette ranges from bright, fresh colours to subtle, natural hues. Her inspiration for design come from the delicate but strong structure of natural forms that surround us in the environment that we live in. However it is the colour that determines the design on the cloth.

Halima Cassell
Born in 1975 in Pakistan, brought up in Manchester and now living in Blackburn, Lancashire, Halima’s varied, multi-cultural background is tangibly present in her work. Halima’s natural creativity was nurtured to fruition through an art-based education: an undergraduate degree in 1997 and an MA in 2002. Fusing her Asian roots with a fascination for African pattern work and a passion for architectural geometry, Halima’s work is intense yet playful, structured yet creative; substantial yet dynamic and invariably compelling in its originality. Combining strong geometric elements with recurrent patterns and architectural principles, Halima’s work utilises definite lines and dramatic angles in an attempt to manifest the universal language of number and create an unsettling sense of movement.To achieve these effects she uses heavily grogged clay that allows her to work on a large scale and utilise relatively thick surfaces to carve to the desired depth.

Iythar -
A graduate of the Faculty of Fine Arts in Cairo, Iythar is a young artist residing in the UK and works in a wide variety of mediums and forms. As a fine artist, Iythar likes to explore surrealist, abstract and conceptual painting approaches, she also works intricately with calligraphy with her own stylistic scripts. She commonly uses oil on wood, but does not restrict herself to any particular medium or method of painting. Often she is trying to bring forth stories, moments in time or to capture a memory or feeling. She is also highly noted for her exceptional portraiture renditions from her past exhibitions. Her calligraphic work to date depicts not only a scriptural exuberance in a visual way, but also defines the meaning of the Arabic in a conceptual manner.
Her paintings are uniquely tied to her belief, spirituality and the heightened awareness of life and the meaning of struggle.

Lateefa Spiker
Lateefa Spiker, 26, was brought up by parents who converted to Islam. She has lived in Texas, Granada, New Mexico, Jordon, Cairo and Morocco, and now works from her studio in East London. From a young age her works where inspired by these experiences observing scenes of extraordinary natural beauty, diverse cultures and architectural wonders. Lateefa’s work is of great significance today, she is well placed to view the clash of civilizations on the world stage, having spent her life observing the differences and similarities between her religion and her cultural roots, feeling first-hand the ache of non-identity. The struggle to find her place within an often-contradictory environment triggered her interest in our true nature, stripped of culture and of individuality. Lateefa’s current works employ primordial imagery in its barest of forms.

Mohammed Ali
, a 29 year old British-born Muslim, takes his form of art from the streets to public exhibitions, bringing a positive twist to the oft-used term, ‘clash of civilisations’. He takes his inspiration from the modern urban-art of graffiti and weaves it together with the grace and eloquence of Islamic Arabic calligraphy. It results in a form dubbed as ‘Urban Spiritual Art’. Much of Mohammed’s work depicts universal principles such as Peace, Knowledge and Patience, concepts which are appreciated by people of all faiths and cultures. Mohammed’s work is becoming ever-more popular in this time where one’s spiritual direction is increasingly under the spotlight. Mohammed Ali has recently completed a tour of the USA, painting his unique "spiritual murals" across the three cities, New York, Chicago and Boston.

Rehan Jamil
Rehan began his photographic career at the age of 17 taking photographs for the local newspaper, The East End Enterprise. He has since continued as a freelance photographer providing editorial images to a number of large urban regeneration programmes in London.Rehan describes himself as a social documentary photographer who is primarily concerned with communities in transition.Work by Rehan has been included in the group exhibition Common Ground (2003) commissioned by The British Council the images explore Muslim identity in the UK. His work was also included in both the Changing Faces 02 exhibition (2003) and the Sony Playstation, Beautiful Script exhibition (2005). More recently Rehan was commissioned to produce the Peace by Piece exhibition for Southwark Council. Rehan is currently working on exhibiting ‘The East End of Islam’ a black and white photographic documentary capturing the spirit of the Muslim Community in Tower Hamlets, London.

Rezia Wahid MBE
Rezia’s work is a celebration of life, beauty, peace, tranquility, air, and light, and seeks to build bridges with the simplicity of fibres, colours, techniques and feelings which are felt within her when she is amongst the natural beauty of this earth – which can also be a form of escaping the harsh and troubled issues of the world around us. Her ultimate aim is for people to escape into a beautiful dream, connect with natural light and the feeling of peace. Rezia designs the cloths in order for them to hang in space so that ‘Light’ can travel through and create an atmosphere of tranquility. It can be enjoyed by walking around and looking through the different densities of the warp. At the same time she would like her work to be versatile and leave them to be free with the unfinished edge- she wants them to have a purpose but not be bound to it.

Ruh al-‘Alam
(Visual Dhikr) - A graduate of Central Saint Martin’s College of Art & Design, Ruh began combining his graphic design knowledge with painting to develop a fusion of Islamic and contemporary art that became popular under the guise ‘Visual Dhikr’. As a student of traditional Arabic calligraphy, he runs Visual Dhikr, a personal art project dedicated to the constant remembrance of Allah (God). Working in paint, fashion, video, sculpture and digital media, Ruh hopes to create unique visual art that encourages a new revival in the Islamic art world. He takes inspiration from the rich Islamic heritage of literature, the Qur’an and the Prophetic message, often working with intricate calligraphy, textures and patterns.
He has exhibited in the UK and abroad and has been commissions by local and international clients, including Sony and Outlandish to produce unique artwork. His work is also commonly found transferred onto clothing, art prints, accessories and home décor.

Ruqqia Badran
Ruqqia Badran is a self taught textile artist based in the Northwest of England. She uses dyed raw silk which she delicately hand embroiders and embellishes in an Islamic style using mainly geometric patterns reflecting the plurality of her cultural heritage; Islamic, South Asian, northwestern England and Syrian. She produces large-scale wall hangings that contrast and compliment the small intricate geometric patterns and beading her works are made up of. Her artworks are unified by her use of colour, reflecting beauty and harmony. Badran’s artworks are mainly concerned with aesthetic value and aim to highlight the sophistication of Islam and its identity. Ruqqia Badran has independently exhibited throughout the Northwest. Her last solo exhibition took place in 2007 at the Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester. She continues to contribute to Islamic art through textiles and intends to expand into Islamic inspired interior design in the near future.

Vaseem Mohammed
Growing up in the East End, Vaseem has always been interested in the shapes, textures and atmospheres of his urban childhood. After access courses in Art & Design, Graphics and Creative Computing & Illustration, he freelanced in graphic design and furniture renovation with Islamic inspired decoration, through which he found his niche in fine art, his field for the past 11 years. After 4 years at Spitalfields market in east London, Vaseem opened his own gallery in the creative hub of Cheshire Street E1, and continues to regularly exhibit his work.

Vaseem’s most distinctive feature appears to be his childhood appreciation of form, colour, and texture. Additionally, there appears to be a recurring symbolism of juxtaposition- archaic eastern architecture and Islamic calligraphy from past eras, confronts modernist, western abstract style of painting; the rich beauty of the natural world through vibrant opalescent colours and awing space, contrasted against the deterioration and irresponsibility of humanity’s world.

The event has so much more than art, theatre, entertainment and great topical lectures.

This is an event NOT to be missed, rarely do we get the chance to have so many young and established artists into one place, showcasing the growing talent from our community. Be proud and show your support for our artists, Muslim businesses and the celebration of our beautiful heritage - visit IslamExpo this weekend...

11-14 July '08
Olympia, London

This entry was posted on Wednesday, July 09, 2008 at 1:06 AM. You can skip to the end and leave a response.

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At 12:16 AM, Blogger Juveriya Bhutta said...
AOA brother,

I found this blog through Facebook and I have found many many useful links. I just wanted to let you know of a misspelling for Rezia Wahids homepage, its not but

I myself am doing a master in arts&crafts and are getting alot of inspiration from your work and your posts! May Allah bless you all, Ameen.


At 2:01 AM, Blogger Dorothy Dock said...
I enjoyed talking with you at the Whitworth Museum in Manchester. I hope you pursue your art in London!
You obviously have a family who are very supportive. You have a gift--nurture it!
Good Luck
Dorothy Dock
(My son-in-law, Sebastian Martorana is a Sculptor in mainly marble)

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