The ever so dynamic Nuqat Foundation have launched the first of their spring workshops and I was lucky enough to get a chance to attend the Arabic calligraphy workshop hosted by the renowned Omani calligrapher Mr Saleh Al-Shukairi. With 25 years of experience in the field and hundreds of artworks produced, we were all eager to soak up as much information as we could from him.
The beginning of the workshop was all about the basics, we were introduced to the history of calligraphy and the different tools and materials. Bamboo sticks, metal pens, natural ink and rice paper later, we were completely immersed in the world of Arabic calligraphy. Al-Shukairi described the process of creating natural ink and rice paper in meticulous detail, he also demonstrated how to cut and perfect bamboo sticks to use in calligraphy writing (definitely a don't try at home method!). Al-Shukairi then presented a slideshow of over 150 of his artworks, starting from the traditional ones and then to the more contemporary calligraphy art that he's now known for. Extremely inspired, we were all ready to get going with our own artworks!
We started getting a clearer idea of the depth of Arabic calligraphy by the next day. Al-Shukairi talked about the different styles of script and described their origins. He then effortlessly started writing the different styles, from the Kufic script to the Diwani and Ruq'ah to Naskh style, just to name a few. We were then asked to start the practical work and get a feel of calligraphy writing. To put it simply, it isn't easy as it looks! Getting the strokes, variations, size, pressure all right is extremely difficult and that gave me a newfound appreciation for calligraphers all over the world. It was challenging to perfect single letters so I can't imagine how difficult it would be to create unique compositions of phrases! Al-Shukairi was more than helpful and it was an incredible experience to be guided by him and just to see him in action.
Day 3 and 4 of the workshop will be all about working on compositions and starting the actual artwork. Now I really can't wait to see the results of traditional Arabic calligraphy combined with contemporary art!