The Islamic Art Project: doing something that works for the community

Posted: 20th August 2020

Humber Museums Partnership - The Islamic Art Project: doing something that works for the community

In my last post I said that I’d shown the range of our Islamic Art collection and consulted with the staff at the Iranian Community of Hull (ICOH) about what they would like to get out of the project. I developed some ideas, focusing on hands-on and visual activities as the staff at ICOH had said these were particularly popular with members as art overcame challenges around the diversity of languages spoken by the community members.

These activities were inspired by our Islamic Art collection which includes pottery, glassware and two helmets. Some of the activities suggested were:
• Pottery making and decoration
• Storytelling
• Poetry
• Performance
• Collection focussed talks
• Calligraphy

These were circulated around ICOH’s advisory committee who liked the ideas, particularly those with strong visual and practical elements. I had another meeting with staff members from ICOH to discuss practicalities for members e.g. suitable times for workshops, barriers to involvement etc. In this discussion, together we formed a plan.

We wanted to involve as many people as possible, so the workshops would be open to all community members with up to 10 people participating in each workshop. This would ensure that people had the opportunity to fully engage in the session. We decided to aim for four or five sessions, so a breadth of subjects could be explored. They would be held between 10am and 2pm to accommodate for any care giving responsibilities people might have with at least one session held on a weekend or during school holidays so children could take part too. The creative practitioners leading the sessions would be members or contacts from the Iranian Community of Hull to ensure the sessions were led by the community who had expertise in the creative subjects. In addition ICOH would provide translators, who would be able to provide support for participants too.

We were honing our ideas and collaborating to create a project that would not only actively engage members of the community, but also more importantly would develop a sense of belonging and ownership whilst celebrating the Islamic Art collection.

So armed with our ideas, I headed back to my desk ready to do some Project Management (very much with a capital ‘P’ and a capital ‘M’!).