NIGHT 70 – THE STORY OF KING UMAR ‘IBN AL-NUMAN AND HIS FAMILY

Really looking forward to this September, when I start a fully-funded practice-led PhD at the Slade School of Fine Art! My original 1001 Nights project gave rise to a PhD idea: to make 1001 artworks generated by the frame story and motifs of the 1001 Arabian Nights. I’m so happy that the AHRC (Arts and Humanities Research Council) decided to back my idea and so excited to be back at the Slade too!

I’ll keep posting the original project drawings here and start a new blog for the actual artworks as I make them.

A practice-led PhD is one where the artwork is the research. The research is to make 1001 artworks: explorations, not illustrations, that will interrogate the 1001 Nights entirely differently. I propose a new, novel reading of the 1001 Nights where Shahrazad the storyteller is all-powerful in that she holds the key to the entire 1001 Nights in her head, just as the artist can be all-powerful in the creation of multiple worlds and works. Primary sources of the 1001 Nights and the coeval world of Islamic miniature painting abounding in marginalia are a starting point to investigate how marginalia give meaning to the whole. Margins are a big part of my idea and the artworks won’t simply be 1001 discrete pieces. Since the frame story of the 1001 Nights involves stories within stories, so I will make artworks within artworks, or artworks that have margins containing other artworks (as in miniature painting or works such as Bleeding Carpet Page).

The research proposal:

BEYOND THE FRAME: MARGINALIA AND PARERGONALITY IN ART AND THE 1001 ARABIAN NIGHTS�Using the frame story and motifs of the 1001 Arabian Nights as a starting point to generate 1001 artworks�The 1001 Arabian Nights’ frame story includes tales within tales: I will investigate this through interdisciplinary research, manifesting visually. Several tales weave through the main story (Shahrazad saves her life by telling King Shahriyar stories with cliffhangers). A parergon is a supplemental or auxiliary work, here understood as the various tales in relation to the overarching story. I’ll also answer the question: why was one of the world’s most famous frame tales and story cycles narrated by a woman?

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