Damascene Days Exhibition
A cultural celebration of the oldest capital city

programme

Day One, Tuesday 27 April
Doors open from 5.30pm
Entrance on Exhibition Road

Programme starts at 6.30 pm with a welcome message from the BSS

6.30pm A preview of the BBC Documentary
Ancient Worlds featuring Syria

followed by Q&A with series Producer Tim Kirby.

Archaeologist Dr Richard Miles from Cambridge University presents this new high - profile BBC series which
will shed light on the development of the world's first cities and civilisations, and the spread of their ideas
across the Ancient World. Research has shown that these first cities appeared all over the Eastern
Mediterranean between 4500 and 3500BC in both upper Mesopotamia (Syria) and lower Mesopotamia (Iraq) ,
and that these first urban societies were instrumental in the the design and growth of the systems of what we
now understand to mean 'civilisation'. The series will tell the story of how these cities were constructed; of
the invention of political and legal systems, globalisation of trade and war and the invention of musical notes
and the alphabet. The first episode in the series, shot in High Definition, features extensive filming all over
Syria ; from the Mediterranean Kingdom of Ugarit to the impressive, yet lesser known, site of Tel Brak in the
Hasake region ; the largest ancient site in north-eastern Syria and one of the most important early urban
centres of northern Mesopotamia. Ancient Worlds will also tell the amazing stories of the Kingdoms of Mari,
Doura Euopos, Palmyra, Aphamea among others, and showcases the modern cities of Damascus and Aleppo.

As the Series is still in production and will not be transmitted on the BBC and around the world until autumn
2010 , this will be an exclusive preview for the exhibition of Syrian culture consisting of selected rough cut
extracts from Episode 1 . The Series Producer and Director Tim Kirby and Associate Producer Rana Haddad will
present the screening.

7.00pm Lecture on the featured 19th century
Photography Exhibition:
The City Where History Began
by Badr El Hage

The exhibition of old photographs and post cards of Damascus give a quick glance at the oldest inhabited city on earth which used to be called “The Pearl of the East”.

The photographs selected for this exhibition cover works by leading Western photographers who travelled to Damascus in the 19th century such as Francis Frith, Frank Mason Good, Wilhem Hamarschmidt, Peter Bergheim, Tancred Dumas and Maison Bonfils.

The post cards depict more detailed scenes of life in the city during the last years of Turkish rule which ended with the defeat of Turkey during the First World War and a short lived period of independence prior to the occupation of Syria by the French forces.

8.00pm Syrian Hakawati & Dabke Dance Workshop
Join Alia Alzougbi for a true taste of Syrian culture through the Hakawati ‘storyteller’ accompanied by music,
followed by a demonstration and workshop in Dabke Dance.

8.00pm Drinks and Canapés reception in the Map Room

 

The Damascus Exhibition also features:

June Bartlett’s painting collection: On the Road to Damascus
June Bartlett has been painting scenes of the Gulf and Arabia for the Mathaf Gallery for 17 years and we are delighted to present this solo exhibition inspired by her recent travels to Syria. Already an experienced painter-traveller of Oman, Bahrain and the Gulf, June first “discovered” Syria in November 2007, returning two years later. The works in this exhibition are painted in June’s typically light, fluid style, and show her ability to capture the charm and character of a place. As well as colourful street scenes and souks, June also depicts the beautiful mosques, citadels and remote ruins of Syria’s ancient heritage, often set against a striking sunset or sunrise.

Dr Mohamad Ghanoum’s Syrian Calligraphy Art
Dr Ghanoum’s dedication the art world and Arabic calligraphy started in the early 1970s in Damascus. He has since become a pioneer in contemporary calligraphy art. His work leads him to travel extensively to exhibit worldwide and win a number of awards for his contribution to Islamic art. A collection of his paintings focused on Damascus will be exhibited during this event.

Ibrahim Malla’s Damascus photography collection
I am a Syrian photographer, I was born in Damascus in 1971. My love for photography arose 13 years ago while
I was working with NGOs dealing with children. This passion led me to gain 3 international awards in
photography for humanitarian subjects. Always the passion for Damascus and my country inspired my lens,
and this leads me to carry a message about co-existence in Syria and the great importance of Damascus as a
touristic, cultural and religious destination. Damascus is the fountain of civilization, which spread all around
the world, and also is a great example from the humanitarian point of view. This is my message to the world,
which I carried to Madrid and Paris in 2009, and now to London.


Day Two Wednesday 28th April 2010
Doors open from 5.30pm
Entrance on Kensington Gore
Programme starts at 6.30 pm in the Education Centre

6.30pm Book Launch by Samer Akkach
Associate Professor, Adelaide University

‘Beyond Damascus’
The Correspondence of ‘Abd al-Ghan? al-N?bulus? (1641-1731)

As a leading Muslim thinker, ‘Abd al-Ghan? al-N?bulus? of Damascus creatively engaged with the social, religious, and intellectual challenges that emerged during the early modern period in which he lived. Yet, at a time of high anti-mystical fervour, his Sufi-inspired views faced strong local antipathy. Through extensive correspondence — studied and presented by Professor Akkach for the first time — ‘Abd al-Ghan? projected his ideas and teachings beyond the parochial boundaries of Damascus, and was thus able to assert his authority at a wider regional level. The letters he himself selected, compiled, and titled shed fresh light on the religious and intellectual exchanges among scholars in the eastern Ottoman provinces, revealing a dynamic and rigorous image of Islam, one that is profoundly inspired by humility, tolerance, and love.

Samer Akkach is Associate Professor of architectural history and theory and Founding Director of the Centre
for Asian and Middle Eastern Architecture (CAMEA) at The University of Adelaide. He was born and educated
in Damascus before moving to Australia where he received his MArchDes from UNSW and his PhD from The
University of Sydney.

7.30pm Hakawati performance by Alia Al-Zoughbi

All guests are invited to a drinks reception in the Hall