Art shows positives
Antoinette de Morton's new exhibition includes a work which recites an Arabic poem in Braille.
ANTOINETTE de Morton's new mixed-media collection invites Westerners to "look beyond" negative stereotypes of Islamic culture.
The East Brunswick-based artist became interested in Islamic art and culture after witnessing the ordeal of a friend's son, one of 12 men standing trial for allegedly planning a terrorist attack in Melbourne.
"The collection does contain a political message, but it's not an in-your-face one ... it's more about challenging the negative stereotypes the press often pushes," de Morton said.
"We don't often hear all the fabulous things about the culture.
"As an artist I am trying to convey that there's much more to Islamic culture than what we're told."
De Morton's 20-year career includes a commissioned body of work, part of a permanent collection in the Royal Society of London Museum.
According to de Morton, art has a unique capacity to break down barriers and stereotypes something she hoped her exhibition would do. "It's interesting that in the Middle Ages, Christians, Jews and Muslims actually collaborated through their art and culture."
She said Islamic art's rich colour and symbolism was about much more than mere decoration.
The art actually informed a complex understanding of the universe.
The collection is named after one of the 47 works featured, The Clock on the Wall, based on a poem of the same name by well-known Islamic poet Samih al-Qasim.
In The Clock on the Wall, de Morton translated the poet from Arabic into English and then Braille, exploring the themes of communication and metaphor.
In the collection, de Morton revisits themes from previous work, such as navigational tools, geometric and mathematical symbols.
* The Clock on the Wall opens this Thursday, August 14, at the Ochre Gallery, 32-34 Wellington St, Collingwood.