• Hilary McCormack

A celebration of Arabic Calligraphy

Updated: Aug 30

“Calligraphy is an art form that uses ink and a brush to express the very souls of words on paper.”

When I was a kid, having nice handwriting and writing nicely with different color pens was all part of my early learning in junior school. In Ireland a lot of our inspiration came from illustrations of early religious works of art, for example, a masterwork of Western calligraphy is called the Book of Kells and represents the pinnacle of Hiberno-Saxon art, and was produced in the post-Roman era of the British Isles. The manuscript takes its name from the Abbey of Kells, which was its home for centuries. The village of Kells was home to a former monastery about 40 miles from my hometown in country Ireland. Today the Book of Kells can be found in the great library of Trinity College.

Pre historic Elephant

Recently I was inspired to go and view a new exhibit of Arabic Calligraphy in the National Museum of Riyadh called King Abdulaziz Historical Center which is the site of a former palace. Stretching across 4 main galleries on two floors, visitors can enjoy a retrospect of ancient saudi history, exhibits of local geology, traditional building structures and examples of Nabataean alphabet carvings and other antiquities of historical importance.

Access to the museum is free and opening times are 8 am to 8 am every day except Friday and Sunday. On those days the opening times differ slightly. Sunday 8 am to 2pm and Friday 4 pm to 8pm.

Meteorite Found in the Empty Quarter
Cool and elegant designer wear with arabic calligraphy


The tour of the resident exhibits ends with a visit to the celebration event for the year of Arabic calligraphy. This exhibit has numerous rooms showcasing computer generated depictions of fast-moving calligraphy graphics, artwork, hand drawn paintings, short movies, designers who incorporate Arabic script in to piece of fashionable clothing and the pièce de resistance two intelligent robotic arms that translate the movement of the artist eye into piece of artwork. This exhibit was created by Michel Paysant who is a French visual artist. Paysant presents this installation called A Constellation of letters, a series of digital calligraphies which is created by the robotic arms which translate the movement of the artist eyes as he is gazing at the 88 constellation of the night sky and his inspiration comes from Arabic calligraphy and aims to create a new alphabet.

When I witness these amazing examples of art from around the world, I understand how interconnected we all are.





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