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Press release

  • 15 September 2006

East meets West with advice of Sussex academic

image supplied by Tate Britain

image supplied by Tate Britain

A University of Sussex English lecturer has been working as co-curator on a major show charting 500 years of Christian and Muslim encounters and exchanges.

Dr Matthew Dimmock took inspiration from his own course in Literature and Islam at the University after being invited to contribute to East-West: Objects Between Cultures at the Tate Britain in London. The display, featuring British art from 1500 to the present day, sheds light on the relationship between Britain and the Muslim world.

It was his interest in early modern notions of Islam from the 1500s to the eighteenth century that first brought Dr Dimmock to the attention of the Tate Britain in September 2005. Sourcing work from public and private collections in London, Dr Dimmock travelled to the Victoria & Albert Museum, the British Library and the British Museum to find pieces for the exhibition. He also looked to the texts in his teaching, including Arabian Nights, in an effort to show the longevity of British and Muslim relations.

Dr Dimmock says: "The idea of the show is to introduce objects that ask questions about the Muslim and Christian connection. The gallery wanted to organise something to coincide with Britain's Festival of Muslim Cultures and the show is important because it is able to make connections between societies that are too often considered distinct.

"There has been a long-standing relationship between Britain and Muslim cultures and this display draws together objects you may initially imagine to be quite different and reveals how they are linked."

The variety of objects on display represent mercantile goods, some document the establishment of Muslim communities in Britain, while others reflect contemporary politics. Ottoman ceramics from the early sixteenth century appear alongside photographs of the first English mosque from 1889 and examples of Muslim calligraphy from the last five years. The advisory committee for East-West includes Dr Dimmock, Professor Lisa Jardine and Dr Matthew Birchwood, both from the University of London.

The show can be seen at the BP British Art Displays at Tate Britain and runs until February 2007.

Notes for editors


For more information about East-West: Objects Between Cultures visit:


University of Sussex press officers: Jacqui Bealing and Jessica Mangold, tel. 01273 678209. Email

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