Spectacular and Vernacular: Teaching Islamic Art & Design in Australia

Research output: Other contribution to conferencePresentation onlypeer-review


Islamic Art and Design has rarely been taught in Australian universities. This oversight has far-reaching implications for the broader awareness of Islamic material and visual culture, and restricts the potential for Australians to engage with or contribute to this dynamic field. Islamic art history has historically been taught in association with the art of the Middle Ages and Renaissance. For Australian students today, such chronological structures risk creating the perception of historical grandeur without contemporary relevance.Teaching Islamic art and design with continual reference to contemporary context is an important means to facilitate cross-cultural dialogue, and also recognizes the global career pathways sought by Australian tertiary graduates. This affects the broader field of contemporary Islamic art, design and architecture by opening access to new audiences who are currently largely unaware of the contemporary aspect of this diverse creative industry, and may bring new contributions to the field.Given that Australians tertiary students rarely have the opportunity to study Islamic art and design, I developed a new Distance Education subject for Charles Sturt University (CSU). ART240: Introduction to Islamic Art & Design is a flexible elective that will make a significant contribution to the cultural awareness of our future graduates. It balances the spectacular with the vernacular to introduce principles of Islamic design in a manner that is engaging, approachable, and rewarding for regional and urban Australians without any prior experience of Islamic art or design. This paper will present a survey of Australian tertiary approaches to Islamic Art in order to establish how and why this new class was designed for CSU. It will relate these intentions to emerging trends in Australian engagement with contemporary Islamic art and design through several recent case studies.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2015
EventInternational Forum on Contemporary Islamic Art, Design and Architecture - Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, Singapore
Duration: 07 Oct 201509 Oct 2015


ConferenceInternational Forum on Contemporary Islamic Art, Design and Architecture


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