Haji Noor Deen – The Art of Calligraphy – 15th August 2015.
The thing about this year’s Edinburgh Book Festival, if you can really condense into to one singular thing, is that it seems to be crossing borders beyond the scope of previous years. What better way to start this festival experience, then, than with Haji Noor Deen discussing the Art of Calligraphy?
Being an Arabic and Chinese calligraphy master is a unique combination, and it’s one he’s toured world over to showcase. Borders are crossed by translator Mourad Diouri, giving English speakers an insight into a world they’d otherwise have little understanding of. The pair are almost an accidental comedy duo, sometimes Haji Noor Deen doesn’t need to be translated to be funny, other times Diouri adds his own notes onto information and apologises profusely.
It’s a difficult event to do justice to without a breakdown of each style he spoke about, the toolkit with which he works and the history and importance of each style. The letter that represents ‘and’ is one that many pay attention to in calligraphy, and people make masterpieces around it, several of which he displays.
His demonstrations are ridiculously enjoyable to the general fan of good writing and calligraphy, showcasing the diversity of characters and flourishes that can be added with nice phrases like his greeting ‘Peace be upon you’.
He gives a test to identify what words were represented by symbols he draws: fish, net, sun, moon, mountain; he breaks it down by showing how each can interlink with another to change their meaning entirely through their actions.
“Patience is beautiful,” he says. “Calligraphy requires patience. If you rush, you’re not going to get anywhere with calligraphy.” You’ve got to have a passion for it, and even to the casual observer of this hour, he makes the construction of words and their artistic interpretations seem a total world of wonder. It’s barely a snapshot into the world of calligraphy, but it’s kind of mad how enjoyable it was.