Hikaayat is pleased to showcase the extraordinary work of Laurelie Rae, a Canadian artist, educator and author based in Istanbul.
In 2015, she published Islamic Art and Architecture: Memories of Seljuk and Ottoman Masterpieces in which she shared some of the most beautiful and historic monuments in Turkey alongside her own drawings of the interior and exterior of these monuments. Her journey as a Muslim and artist are inescapably entwined and Laurelie writes,
“I realize I live inside of a Pandora’s box of flowers, art, motifs, plants, ideas, things are swirly and the box is becoming heavy. Full of creative matter, the kind that universes are made of.
While researching for my first book I was visiting many sights often for photos, sketches and to get the energy and the soul of the place. I had visited Sokullu Mehmet Paşa Mosque earlier in the day and at this point, losing light I dashed to Rüstem Paşa mosque where the guard was giving me grief, for what, I can’t remember. I don’t know if I was light headed or in the zone but when I entered the prayer area something was different. Different from the last week, although I was in the same place. At that moment the porcelain patterns ceased to be static. The flowers were growing! They were scrawling in spirals, buds blooming, leafs unfurling, vines curling. Was my blood sugar low or high? The flowers grew and grew and the guard must have seen my mouth gapped open because he asked if I was ok (he was truly concerned, lol).
As humans, we create abstractions the explain the world around us. But what’s interesting about the Ottoman, Mughal and Safavid art is how those systems they created are able to produce spiritual moments/visitations like the one I mentioned above about the truth of the created world. That is the irony or the rather the intelligence of the Islamic surface pattern. It’s far from just being on the surface or some thoughtless decoration. Please take that as a metaphor for everyone you meet in the this world. Imagine if we could see all of the person standing in front of us? From birth to that moment, see the growth, blooming, unfurling and decay.”
As an educator Laurelie hosts a number of courses and workshops and will be convening an online course in January 2021 entitled Mystical Mihrabs and Entrances which explores the historical and visual aspects of mihrabs and monumental entraces, from across the Islamic world. “Each class will feature a curated historical contextualization of the chosen site and patterns. Each class will be centered around patterns unique to each prayer niche (mihrab) or monument entrance. Biomorphic (vegetal) and geometric patterns will be explored in order to complete the patterns or compositions. This class can be enjoyed by beginners and novices. In each session, careful instruction and handouts are given to make sure each student understands and can work toward finishing the patterns taught in class.”