The Story of the Two Lamps: Re-reading the Ardabil Carpet


Thursday 15 June 2017, 6.30PM

Speaker(s): Dr Moya Carey (V&A)

Abstract: One of the Victoria and Albert (V&A) Museum 's greatest treasures, the Ardabil Carpet was produced in 1539-40 for the dynastic shrine of the Safavid shahs in Iran.  This enormous carpet is one of a matching pair, featuring a remarkably sophisticated design.

Much scholarship has addressed the V&A carpet's status as a designed object, studied and admired in isolation and widely imitated by modern weavers. Join V&A curator Moya Carey as she looks at that isolating tendency, but also at the Ardabil Carpet in its original cultural context. How did the carpet's design respond to the sacred interior space at Ardabil, and to Safavid visual culture? Can the Shi`a context explain the unusual addition of two hanging lamps woven into the pattern?

Considered as a pair of carpets, how does the Ardabil design correspond with contemporary arts of the book, particularly gilt leather bookbindings and colourful manuscript illumination? While the Safavid dynasty made several further additions and extensions to the shrine complex, particularly under Shah `Abbas I, how much can we see of the designed interiors produced under Shah Tahmasp - the likely patron of the two great carpets, in 1539-40?

For a free ticket

Location: Bowland Auditorium, Berrick Saul

Admission: Free entry, but tickets. Please use the festoval of ideas link provided to reserve your place

"Istanbul: The Story of a City from Roman times to the Ottoman Conquest"


Monday 12 June 2017, 6.30PM

Speaker(s): Roberta Marin (Nasser Khalili Collection & SOAS)

Abstract: Built on the ruins of Constantinople, the legendary city of Istanbul became the powerful capital of the Ottoman Empire. Located in a strategic position between the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, the city controlled the trade with Europe, Central Asia and the Far East. Large amounts of money flooded in, and Istanbul was embellished with religious complexes and palaces that still amaze anyone visiting today.

Join Roberta Marin, an expert in Islamic art and architecture, as she examines the origins of Istanbul and the different phases of its long history. She will discuss the important role played by the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great (272 AD–337 AD), who renamed the ancient Byzantium as Constantinople. She’ll take a look at his renovated Hippodrome and its famous forum, before continuing with the Byzantine Emperor Justinian (482-565) and his most acclaimed artistic achievement, Haghia Sophia (Holy Wisdom, from 532).

Marin will conclude with Mehmet II Fatih (the Conqueror), a key figure in the history of the Ottoman Empire and the expansion of Istanbul. She will discuss life at the court, the new religious and secular buildings erected by the Ottoman Sultans and their Viziers, and the importance of the military corps of the Janissaries.


About the speaker: Roberta Marin collaborates with the Khalili Collection of Islamic Art, London and lectures with the University of York’s Centre for Lifelong Learning. She completed her BA in Fine Arts in Italy and holds an MA in Islamic Art and Archaeology from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London. She has travelled extensively in the Mediterranean and her field of interest includes Islamic art and architecture in Egypt and Modern and Contemporary Art from the Middle East and Iran.

 Attendance is by free ticket only, available at Festival of Ideas.

Location: The Treehouse, Berrick Saul Building, University of York

Admission: Attendance by free ticket, see link in text.

Middle East Art in the Museum: The Stories we Tell

Thursday 8 June 2017, 6.30PM

Speaker(s): Dr Venetia Porter

Abstract: The art coming out of the Middle East is vibrant and speaks of history, tradition and politics. The British Museum has been collecting works on paper and photographs by artists from across the region since 1980s. Join curator Venetia Porter as she discusses how this collection has developed and how these works play thier part in helping us to understand the Middle East today.


Dr Venetia Porter is a curator of the collections of Islamic and Contemporary Middle Eastern art at the British Museum and the lead curator for the Albukhary Foundation Galleries of the Islamic World project. Venetia studied Arabic and Islamic art at the University of Oxford and her PhD from the University of Durham is on the medieval history and architecture of Yemen. She researches and publishes on a range of topics from Islamic tiles, amulets and seals to contemporary art. In 2012 she curated the exhibition Hajj: journey to the heart of Islam.

For a free ticket please visit the festival of ideas website

Location: The Treehouse, Berrick Saul Building

Admission: Attendance by free ticket only (see link above)

Spices, Silks, and Slaves: Travel by Land in the Medieval Islamic World

Tuesday 9 May 2017, 6.30PM

Speaker(s): Professor Scott Redford, SOAS, University of London

More details to follow shortly

Location: Bowland Auditorium

The Paintings of the Freer Dīvān of Sultan Aḥmad-i Jalāʾir (d. 1410) and the New Taste for Decorative Design in Persian Manuscripts

Thursday 27 April 2017, 6.30PM

Speaker(s): Dr Ilse Sturkenboom, St Andrews University

More details to follow shortly

Location: Bowland Auditorium