x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Zayed University students tap Farjam Collection for exhibition

A 10th-century Quran and metalworks produced many years ago are among 99 objects for a Ramadan exhibition that has been curated with the help of about 20 students.

ABU DHABI // A 10th-century Quran and metalworks produced hundreds of years ago are among the objects to be displayed in a Ramadan exhibition that has been curated with the assistance of about 20 students at Zayed University. The Story of Islamic Art in 99 Objects, assembled from the private collection of Dr Farhad Farjam, a prominent Iranian art collector based in Dubai, opens next month at the Dubai International Financial Centre.

It is part of the ongoing commitment to use the extensive Farjam Collection for educational purposes, said Rebecca Jarvest, the collections and exhibitions co-ordinator of the Farjam Collection. "We have collaborated with overseas institutions for projects like the art camp for children we have been running this month, but this exhibition is the first time we have worked with a local university," she said. "It is the product of a full term's work and we are excited to present it."

Ms Jarvest and her colleague Emilie Faure, the gallery manager, began working with students at the beginning of the spring term. They conducted classes in museum studies and led workshops in the gallery space for three months. Using what they had learned, the students selected a theme for a summer exhibition and chose specific objects. "There is a thread running through the whole exhibition of the developing style and trends of Islamic art," said Miss Jarvest. "The 99 objects capture key moments and string the items together like images in a book."

Although the exhibition does not directly reference the 99 names of God in the Quran, they were the inspiration for the show, she added. Ron Hawker, an associate professor at Zayed University and an expert in Islamic art, was a member of the team overseeing the project. He said it was a privilege for his students to work with Dr Farjam's collection. "The students have been on a journey of discovery that comes to life through this exhibition," he said. "Its depth and variety make it a world-class resource for education in the arts."

The oldest item to be put on display is a piece of glasswork from the 7th century. Works of calligraphy, which Ms Jarvest described as the "central route" in the story of Islamic art, are the focal point of the show. Ceramics, lacquer, textiles, arms and jewellery complete the exhibition, which opens on August 15 and will run for a month. Split into two levels, the first will focus on core religious themes and show how the different items represent various aspects of faith.

The second will showcase items of art from the great Islamic empires, such as the Ottoman, Parthian and the Safavid empires. The Farjam Collection contains thousands of objects, and all of the works in the exhibit are appearing for the first time in Dubai. "There is such a wealth of objects in the collection that it is always possible to present them in a fresh light and with a new perspective," Ms Jarvest said. @Email:aseaman@thenational.ae