Dissertation PDP – Arabic Calligraphy

From the moment we left the first dissertation lecture to this very day, I get nervous at any mention of it. Not because it’s a long and detailed essay that requires hours of research and thought (well of course that makes me a little nervous); but mainly because I want to be able to express myself about a subject I have become growingly more and more passionate about over the course of the last few months, in the best way I possibly can and to give such a beautiful and well respected art form, the credit it deserves.

Calligraphy is something that I began to experiment with and incorporate into my subject and field work in a playful manner and I had previously never really known the level of skill and amount of time and dedication that it required. My work in our subject and field projects have always been based on my roots growing up in the Middle East and the way it has influenced and inspired me so far. The culture, the beliefs, the landscapes, the traditions, the people; all shaped who I am today and continue to drive me to research and learn more about it all and to be able to share it with those around me in my new environment here. While working on some pieces in the last few months that were about the refugees from Syria that had moved to the refugee camps in Jordan (which is home for me) and how their lives had changed so drastically for worse; but still remained strong and optimistic. This is something that has inspired me to appreciate everything and everyone I have an in my life and I wanted to be able to create work that made people feel the same way when they view my art. I wanted to use subtle messages and symbols that evoked a certain feeling of curiosity about what the subject matter of my pieces was about. I experimented with textures; which resembled the desert ground and used colours that were bright and vibrant to capture peoples attention and create an optimistic vibe, but needed to find a way to effectively portray my important and powerful message across. I began to experiment with text and typography and then started to incorporate traditional arabic calligraphy and more intricate styles of text in my work. The more I played around with text and the harder I found it, the more interested I became in the methodology and technique they required. However when I first started to think about my dissertation I hadn’t really thought about connecting the two and just looked forward to working on my level of calligraphic skill to improve it in my practical work. I began reasserting the history of art in the middle east and the many different ways it has evolved; from ancient egyptian hieroglyphics to modern and contemporary art today. I was excited about the hundreds of different art forms that were popular in the Middle East but began to panic a bit as I was unsure what to focus on in such a broad area of research. At first the history and influences of the evolution of art in the Middle East as a whole was what I was considering looking into in depth, however after a meeting and discussion with my dissertation tutor; it clicked. Calligraphy; arabic calligraphy specifically and the many ways it has evolved and changed over time was definitely the way to go. I began to research into the origins of calligraphy and the arabic language and found out that there are more than one theories of where and who started or created it and remain fascinated by them. Also how they have evolved and spread from country to country and the many ways they have changed and evolved because of these influences. I have become so interested in the history of it all and in my own time (despite having studied some of the history in school and was uninterested and unengaged by it) have become captivated by it all and constantly research and explore the world of arabic calligraphy.

I’m unsure of where I will end up exactly with my research and how far it it will take me with my practical work as well, but I’m looking forward to the process and to learn more about this skill itself and its many variations¬†in depth. Although I’m still a little anxious about the writing of the essay itself, I plan to do my best and try to explore and portray the world of Arabic calligraphy and its history to the best of my capabilities. So, here’s to the next few months and hopefully the beginning of the next turning point in my art work.