Bigger, bolder, brighter and now in high definition.
This years Alchemy was again a festival celebrating Indian/Asian culture, but with a lot more diversity and a wide array of events to offer. Sufism as Wikipedia states is “a science through which one can know how to travel into the presence of the Divine, purifying one’s inner self from filth, and beautify it with a variety of praiseworthy traits.” It’s core is derived from the traditional teachings of Islam. The Quran and lifestyle of the Prophet Muhammad peace and blessings be upon him. It’s belief harnessing the individual to spiritually connect with the divine, knowing their purpose in society, environmentally & socially. Sadly Sufism today like many sects of Islam are branched off into its own category. But Sufism has been around since the beginning of Islam. Its roots stem into every part of life into the arts, lifestyle & worship. Challenging the individual to look at every part of creation, every part of our day to day actions and see the beauty of the creator in all that we do.
As someone who enjoys this so called Sufi culture I was delighted to see the Alchemy had embraced a lot more Sufi based events. Whose influence in Asia drastically impacted architecture, poetry and the arts.
There was a lot of focus and rightly so on the worldwide famous poet Jalaludin Rumi, within the Alchemy this year. Rumi is a 13th-century Persian Muslim poet, jurist and theologian. His poetry has influenced Persian literature as well as Urdu, Punjabi and other Pakistani languages. Rumi’s poems mainly focus on the concept of Tawheed (The oneness of god and longing to be with the beloved creator, and illusions and distractions of this world.) Rumi believed passionately in the use of music, poetry, and dance as a path for reaching God. His poems only need to be read to illustrate the deep richness behind his words. And any poor description I give him through my words would not give him true justice to his poetic magnificence.
The Calligraphy In Motion event on Friday the 15th April 2011 was a fashion show, inspired by the use of dance and poetry. The models wore modern takes on traditional Asian clothing. Intricately designed and tailored with calligraphy on the fabric. Whilst an array of dancers and traditional Indian music provided an exciting backdrop for the fashion show.
On Saturday the 16th of April I was even more overwhelmed to have attended a workshop by master calligrapher Anis Siddiqui. The early 11 am start didn’t exactly thrill me after a long week. But it was so worth traveling down to the Southbank for. I took part in an interactive workshop using bamboo as calligraphy pens and tried the traditional art of calligraphy. It felt very much like a young apprentice learning the craft from a skilled master. I also realised how incredibly hard it is to do calligraphy with one continuous stroke. Our master calligrapher told us it took him ten years to learn. This concept I totally understood, because the amount of patience and focus you have to endure is something else. When you realise bamboo pens are not the most easiest to work with. And like every craft its something that has to be mastered, in a matter of years not minutes as I would have liked sadly.
Alchemy this year for me was just everything I expected and more. I had attended and blogged on a few events last year on the Alchemy and thoroughly enjoyed it. This year I was blown away by the finite details of interweaving the Sufi culture into Alchemy, which is quite integral to many Muslim based region’s within India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. And to have had a master class with Anis Siddiqui was probably my highlight and something that I will take with me for years to come. I don’t know how next years alchemy will top this. But a big well done to the Southbank and to all those who were involved, fantastic!
Filed under: Alchemy 2011 | Leave a Comment »