Persia and Beyond
at The State Library
This exhibition was of beautiful hand created books from as long ago near 1100 AD. As many of the books were created many years before the printing press, they show masterful use of calligraphy and creation of hand made papers, inks, embossing, gilding, leather covers and binding.
Rather than having text and accompanying diagrams or pictures, everything is part of the whole for these books. The beautiful writing is as important and as much of a part of the artwork as the decorations and illustrations.
As I moved around the glass cases I noticed etchings in books done by tourists, from possibly the “Grand Tour” as it was called by those from Europe and England. There were also original books by Sådi (The Rose Garden) which contained hand painted images all around the pages with animals, trees, flowers and landscapes mixed together to create ornate patterns and incorporated the text.
Every part of each book was important, the bind of the covers, the inside covers, the edges of the pages – everything looked planned and an important part of a “whole” thing of beauty.
I noted that the illustration style did not use perspective or many other styles of western art. I saw similarities to Chinese and Japanese traditional art, where space, proportion and other techniques are not important. There was attention to detail but not as western culture would see it, but it was still very beautiful.
I have a friend who teaches calligraphy and enjoys creating artworks using it. As I walked around looking at each book, I could see that anyone interest in this art form would love these books and find much inspiration in them. As a visual artist with an interest in ancient history and books I enjoyed this exhibit for a few reasons. One was the rich colours, craftsmanship and attention to detail. Others were the quality of the workmanship in the binding, embossing and gilding on many books. The etchings in books created later were as fresh as many done done recently. The books were simply a feast for the eyes. Totally beautiful and I admire the training, the effort and thoughtfulness that must have gone into their creation.
I found this exhibition very uplifting after having just left the Five Themes venue and a talk by an Australian Artist which I attended the following day at McClellend Galleries dovetailed with it very nicely. The blog about that event will be in this site as well. The presenter was Nusra Latif Quereshi, who presented and spoke about her recent works.