Islamic design focus at Emirates Airline Festival of Literature

Mary Beardwood, author of The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Arabia, is set to speak at this year’s Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, to be held in Dubai, with her main topic being introducing Islamic design to young people.

She said: “I am speaking about Islamic art and my book Discovering Islamic Art. I wrote this for young readers, parents and educators to share the joy and beauty of this art with a wider audience.

“It deals with the three strands of Islamic art, geometric pattern, arabesques and calligraphy and the ways that these are used in the decoration of mosques, buildings but also many artefacts. I also go into miniature painting and look at the spread of knowledge through the illustrations of books and manuscripts.”

Beardwood spent many years working as a teacher in Arabia. In 2000 her book A Children’s Encyclopaedia of Arabia was published as a new resource for children living and studying in Arabia. It was later republished as The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Arabia.

She has long been fascinated by Islamic art and in 2005 took a study course at the British Museum and built up her own library of books on Islamic art and architecture.

In recent years collections of Islamic art have been the subject of much renewed interest and museums all over the world have refurbished their displays. In addition, new Islamic art museums have opened in the countries of the Arabian Gulf, reflecting these countries’ desire to preserve their heritage.

When Beardwood visited these collections she noted how little there was in the bookshops for children and their parents to enhance their experience of a museum visit.

She said, looking forward to her talk at the Emirates Airline sponsored event: “It is very important to me to give access to Islamic art to a wider audience. To enable them to appreciate what they see in Dubai and the Arabian peninsula. In order to engage a young audience I have included activities, quizzes and weblinks in my book.”

The author also spoke about her impressions of Dubai and its architecture.

“The architecture of Dubai is incredibly creative and innovative. The old part of Dubai has been renovated very stylishly, but in addition the new architecture has put it in the forefront of modernity throughout the world.

“By creating an event of international importance the EmiratesLitFest has brought a wide selection of creative talented people together, and given the city a buzz of excitement.”

The talk entitled Discovering the Wonderful World of Patterns in Islamic Art by Mary Beardwood takes place on Friday 6 March 2015 from 09:30-11:00 at Al Majlis, InterContinental Hotel, Dubai.