By Shamim Qureshi | Photo Credit: Special arrangement
Islamic calligraphy is worshiped by artist Shamim Qureshi who is exhibiting her Koranic calligraphy works at Hyderabad’s Salar Jung Museum. Titled Rabbana Quranic Calligraphy, the display at a gallery on the first floor of the Western block comprises 22 handcrafted pieces of ceramic and terracotta pots and vases, and mounted canvases, all with verses in calligraphy.
Shamim Qureshi | Photo Credit: Special arrangement
Mumbai-based Shamim was drawn to art since childhood. In the early 90s, when she did not get admission to JJ School of Arts, she learned art from a craft teacher in Mumbai and taught herself calligraphy in ’94. “I used to observe, learn and practice at home,” recalls Shamim. Having carved a niche in the field, the artiste’s specialty is designing Quranic verses on pots and vases. “I give design specifications to a Kumhar (potter) and choose a verse or hymn from the Koran, which fits below the vase’s neck like an ornament and gives it an antique look.”
While she works in diverse mediums such as photography, painting, ceramics, and calligraphy, she pursues calligraphy with devotion. Shamim works from a studio at home and travels to participate in exhibitions. It was an exhibition based on the Koran in 2008 in Tehran, Iran which brought recognition to her works. “The team in the then Culture Ministry were surprised to know the work was a handcrafted one and done by a woman.” Shameem’s exhibits have traveled to Jeddah, Algeria and Belgium.
Unlike the calligraphy on paper or canvas, designing it on a pot or vase can be quite challenging. Creating five pieces at a time, Shamim does everything on her own — from clearing the rough edges of a pot to adding layers and filling colors for the design. She says, “Even when I explain the process, others are unable to visualize the images the way I do. Doing it on my own is challenging as it is a strain on my eyes and vision is affected, but I manage to do it as I get sukoon (peace) with every work.
Shamim feels fortunate to display her works at the Salar Jung Museum in Hyderabad. “YAhan pe cheezon ko parakhne ki kala logon mein hai; Bahut maza aata hai jab log mujhe mere kaam ke baare mein vista se poochte hain (Here, people are discerning. I enjoy it when they ask about my work in detail,)” says Shamim.
Rabbana Quranic Calligraphy exhibition is on at Salar Jung Museum till May 31.