MA in Traditional Arts
Our Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee Commonwealth Heritage Skills Training Programme has funded two full scholarships for Commonwealth students, Yusef Hourani (an artist from Perth, Western Australia) and Nur Fathiah (a calligrapher, born and raised in Singapore) to undertake the MA in Traditional Arts at The King’s Foundation School. The MA is a full-time, two-year, taught course. They will learn skills, techniques, and critical understanding in a range of traditional arts and crafts alongside associated philosophies.
The MA scholarships are intended for those working and studying in the areas of traditional building and craft skills that are most relevant to, or most needed in their own country to support its heritage.
"My name is Yusef Hourani an artist from Perth, Western Australia specialising in traditional oil painting techniques and iconography. After completing my secondary education I left Australia to study at the Florence Academy of Art in Florence, Italy where I learned the academic method of realist drawing and painting. It was in Florence that I also studied iconography under the private tutelage of sister Gisella Cappuccini, a nun from the fraternites de Jerusalem. I was inspired to join the MA programme at The King’s Foundation School of Traditional Arts to expand my art practice to encompass other craft disciplines and to gain a deeper understanding of materials, philosophy, and symbology.
So far in the course we have studied geometry with Richard Henry, Tom Bree and Daniel Docherty; investigating proportional geometric progressions and learning to utilise the compass and ruler to form complex geometric patterns. With David Cranswick, we have studied the traditional methods of extracting pigments from raw, natural materials and discussed the symbolic associations of colours to give greater depth of understanding and reverence to the use of colour in our art practice. We have completed a module of Indian Miniature painting with artist Susana Marin learning the traditional paintings techniques of Indian Miniature painting and had the opportunity to use traditional, natural pigments and papers found in India. In our time at the School, we have also had the opportunity to study colour theory and colour harmony with Lily Corbett.
It has been a wonderful opportunity to study at the School and to have access to such profound and knowledgeable teachers along with well equipped facilities. The environment at the School is conducive to the exchange of knowledge of various crafts amongst classmates and to discussing the philosophical ideas surrounding these disciplines. This opportunity has been immensely beneficial as it has made the learning of these seemingly complex crafts more accessible and has inspired me to pursue more ambitious projects which go beyond my normal painting practise such as incorporating the knowledge of geometric harmonies in painting compositions, the use of gilding and multimedia in painting and expanding my draftsmanship skills and knowledge of geometry to investigating classical architecture.
The exchange of ideas and knowledge of techniques between classmates and teachers will prepare me for future projects and allow me to develop the cooperative skills necessary to execute multi-disciplinary artworks in the future that would involve other craftsmen. The access to a dedicated studio space has also allowed me to refine my skills in painting and drawing and to learn new craft skills thus allowing me to be a more versatile artist and craftsman for future opportunities".
Left: traditional paint processing. Centre: washing the pigments and filtering impurities in the materials workshop. Right: Indian Miniature painting.
"Born and raised in Singapore, I have been learning Arabic calligraphy since I was 15. I continued my studies in Arabic Literature and Islamic art in Egypt for 6 years having been under the tutelage of a national calligrapher from Egypt and a Royal calligrapher from Morocco. A decade ago, I started sharing the art through various workshops and classes in my home country where I realised that the exposure to this art is near to none as there are very few experts, and none dedicated their time to it.
I have also taken up a few other crafts to apply my knowledge in traditional design, such as pottery and gypsum carving. I have participated in exhibitions involving this art and I have trained in the multicultural art that is the focus of traditional art in Singapore.
I have been traveling to Egypt and Morocco to learn the traditional art with local crafters. And it has always been a heart filing session during the study trips. So, to discover that there is a school that has everything you need to know about traditional art is way beyond what I could have imagined. It is an opportunity to delve deeper in this art as an art enthusiast. Especially coming from a country that marks a tiny dot on the world map, this is indeed a golden opportunity to help promote the art in my country’s art scene. To find experts of different expertise under one roof is every traditional art student’s dream.
The King's Foundation School of Traditional Arts offers subjects from painting to building and enhancing creativity by connecting it to our spiritual being is an element that forms an essential learning method in the School.
Training our eyes to focus on the tiniest detail in courses like Miniature paintings to constructing platonic designs on a large scale out in the park, and from practising brush strokes to movements of the compasses, the School has awaken all the senses needed for someone to get fully involved with tradition and art in an enriching work space.
The move to London came with a cost. The funding has been nothing but a dream come true. There are not many organisations who offer full scholarships for craftsmen, so this has indeed opened doors and opportunities for crafts and art enthusiast to be able to pursue their skill and expertise to the highest standard and quality. The funding will have an impactful contribution to the world of traditional art and it will help the conservation of cultural heritage throughout Commonwealth countries".
Left: geometry class constructing the Cosmati tile pattern from Westminster Abbey. Centre: grinding using mortar and pestle. Right: constructing platonic designs.