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.
My constellation sessions all throughout first year left me feeling more and more interested in the art that I was producing. The reason for this wasn’t that I wanted them to end and couldn’t wait for them to be over, but that they opened my eyes up to so many new ideas and concepts that I had never really even thought about being back at home and in the past.
Art has always been my way of expressing myself and my outlet to give off a message; whether it was a statement piece about something I deeply believed in and was trying to say, or whether it was just a simple piece I made when I was feeling most inspired and just wanted to create. I always thought that coming to university would enhance my skills (especially practical) and not so much focus on my art history knowledge or background knowledge when it came to art. This is why when I walked out of that first constellation lecture at the beginning of the year, I was shocked. Not in a bad way at all, but with a smile on my face because for the first time I was surrounded by people who felt the same way about art and who were passionate and from all different fields and practices. As I listened to each lecture every week, I got more and more into my own work and research. I had always been very keen on artist research and reading up on new art practices and upcoming artist. The constellation lectures slowly changed my view on things though. I began to see the bigger picture and while learning about loads of new artists and art forms, my ideas of things began to change. I stopped seeing art as something I was doing to produce beautiful or aesthetically pleasing pieces; that wasn’t what art was about. I started to create simpler pieces, not because I didn’t have time or couldn’t be bothered, but because I was putting more meaning into each piece and emotion and when I was happy with the outcome, I stopped. When I felt the piece spoke for itself or gave the right feeling of what I was feeling at the time; I stopped. This felt so liberating, I didn’t know I could have become more excited or passionate but it just kept happening.
With every lecture, although I did enjoy some more than other, for example the one about the Doctor Martin Boots as it dealt with loads of concepts I was very very interested in personally and had created whole art pieces and projects before dealing with social ‘norms’ and categories and stereotypes. Also the Lecture about if ‘art is dead’, which confused me at first but ended with a bang for me, making me really think about the art I was producing, how original it was, how personal it was and what it was really saying, not just to me but to anyone else who was to see it. I began to create and run with my own personal work and I feel like this reflected in my personal projects in the Field and Subject modules. I tried more mediums and methods of working and worked on whole new concepts that before today I was slightly scared to push myself to try. I questioned things more and began to others artworks in a whole new light. I realised it wasn’t about how photo realistic or finished work was, it was about the feelings and emotions the artwork made you feel and began to appreciate textures and tones so much more.
My lectures from the second term on were fantastic as well. Art history had always been my weak point, and through these lectures, I learn’t so much about all the different eras and isms involved in this huge world of art; a realm I had never really dove into before. For example the only thing I had really studied or looked into before was Cubism briefly before and Surrealism which I have always been a massive fan of and very interested. With a brief psychology background, Freud and his theories were always very interesting to me and different but tying it all in with Dadaism and engaging with people from all different courses (meaning they all have different knowledge and background information on this all) made it all the more interesting for me; not to mention quite exciting. Overall the whole experience has changed me SO much as not only an artist but as a person. Since moving here I feel like I have grown so much because of the course and I am genuinely interested in so much and constantly go to galleries and watch documentaries about shows I cant see, online. I see the art world differently and mostly I see my self differently. I am so inspired and question everything now. I thoroughly enjoyed constellation this year.