Sam Bowker

Art, Design, History, and Khayamiya (Egyptian Tentmaker Applique)

Month: September, 2015

ART214: Introduction to Islamic Art & Design at Charles Sturt University

ART240: Introduction to Islamic Art & Design is Australia’s only online undergraduate subject dedicated to the diverse visual cultures of the Middle East, North Africa, Central and South-East Asia, drawn entirely from contemporary perspectives.

This unique subject is available as an elective to any degree program in Charles Sturt University. You can tailor it to your interests through focus areas that include textiles, architecture, gender, and design implications. No prerequisites required.

Even if you are studying at another university, you can enroll in ART240 via CSU to add a valuable point of difference to your CV and demonstrate global cultural awareness. It is taught over 10 weeks between November 2015 and February 2016. Assessment consists of collaborative and continual Forum Participation, one Online Presentation for your peers, and one Essay.

Apply at from outside CSU here or add ART240 to your existing enrollments at CSU.

Questions can be directed to sbowker (@)

ART240 is also a Teacher Identified Activity for professional development according to the ACT Teacher Quality Institute (TQI).

Click on the ART240 poster below for a detailed version. You are welcome to print and display this image.

ART240_PosterDesign_A4-ARTWORK(Poster designed by Belinda Paulovich, based on a contemporary khayamiya (2014) by Ekramy Hanafy, which was photographed by Timothy Crutchett)

Presentation for ISRA (Sydney)

Introducing Australians to Islamic Art and Design

Saturday 10 October 2015, 7:30-9pm.

Just 24 hours after my CIADA presentation in Singapore, I will present a public lecture on behalf of ISRA (Islamic Sciences Research Academy), hosted by my colleagues from Charles Sturt University’s CISAC (Centre for Islamic Studies and Civilization). Please click on the image for more information, and feel free to distribute this flyer.

Reservations are required and can be made via or (02) 9649 9040.

Poster for ISRA 10 October 2015 Lecture by Sam Bowker

This public lecture is an expansion of my presentation for CIADA. It contains additional references to case studies and assessment items from ART240 and specifically Australian tertiary contexts, as well as more background regarding my own work in the field of Islamic art for Charles Sturt University.

Presentation for CIADA (Singapore)

At 3:30pm on Friday 9 October, I will be presenting a paper based on my experiences developing and teaching ART240: Introduction to Islamic Art & Design at the CIADA (Contemporary Islamic Art, Design and Architecture) conference in Singapore, hosted by Nanyang Technological University. I am pleased to announce that my paper follows a presentation by Eric Broug, author of Islamic Geometric Design. It is exciting to present my research in the company of such leaders in the field of Islamic visual culture.

Afghan Camelleers Mosque, Bourke, NSW circa 1890s

Corrugated iron mosque used by the Afghan Cameleers in Bourke, NSW, built around 1890. Conollyb/Wikimedia Commons.

Spectacular and Vernacular: Teaching Islamic Art & Design in Australia

Abstract: Islamic Art is almost invisible in Australian universities. This oversight has far-reaching implications for our broader awareness of Islamic material and visual culture, and restricts the potential for Australians to engage with or contribute to this dynamic field.

Teaching Islamic art and design with continual reference to contemporary context is an important means to facilitate cross-cultural dialogue. It also recognizes the global career pathways sought by Australian tertiary graduates. This informs contemporary Islamic art, design and architecture by opening access for new contributions.

I developed ART240: Introduction to Islamic Art & Design for Charles Sturt University as a flexible elective. Anyone may enroll for single-subject study. ART240 is taught online over 10 weeks from November to February. This subject balances the spectacular with the vernacular in order to contribute to the cosmopolitan cultural awareness of our graduates. It introduces principles of Islamic art and design in an engaging, approachable, collaborative, and contemporary manner.

This paper will present a survey of Australian tertiary approaches to ‘Islamic Art’ in order to establish how and why my new approach was designed, and what distinguishes ART240 from other attempts to engage with Islamic visual culture.

(Parts of this presentation are related to the article I published in The Conversation, “The Invisibility of Islamic Art in Australia“, 28 July 2015.)

Khayamiya Lecture and Exhibition in the Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia (IAMM), Kuala Lumpur

To open the exhibition Khayamiya: Khedival to Contemporary in Malaysia, I will be presenting a lecture at the Islamic Arts Museum in Malaysia at 10:30am on Saturday 3 October. Click on the image below for a larger version.

Synopsis: “Khayamiya is a spectacular Egyptian art form that deserves greater recognition. These great walls of colour are hand-sewn using methods that have remained unchanged for centuries, yet the considerable changes in their design have rarely been assessed. In this lecture, Sam Bowker will discuss the history of khayamiya through the Tentmaker’s ongoing adaptations to new conditions. From his first encounter with Henri Matisse’s ‘Interior with Egyptian Curtain’ (1948) to the Revolution of 2011, this illustrated lecture will share his journey to discover the origin of the Tentmakers of Cairo. This lecture will explain where khayamiya can be situated within Islamic art, and the challenges it faces to survive in the future.”

Khayamiya-IAMM Lecture

Here is the IAMM’s link:

For reservations, please contact the Education Department of the IAMM: