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Old mosque inspires sculptor’s work

Monday, 12th March, 2018

Sydney artist Shireen Taweel in her studio. Sydney artist Shireen Taweel in her studio.

By Myles Burt

Sydney artist Shireen Taweel, whose copper artwork ‘Musallah’, is now on display at the Adelaide Festival, said she drew her inspiration from the Broken Hill Mosque. 

Ms Taweel visited the Silver City last year as part of her research project looking at the first mosques in Australia.

“Living in Sydney, I naturally wanted to go to Broken Hill as soon as possible,” she said.

“Really touched to see the mosque that was built in the cameleers’ camp.”

Ms Taweel said she was inspired by the mosque’s simplicity and use of local materials, and by her personal connection to its history as an Australian Muslim.

“It was amazing to see how the pressed tin was just so exquisitely used for the inside of the mosque,” she said.

“It inspired the work, I guess, more conceptually.”

Broken Hill’s mosque was built in 1887 and is the oldest in Australia. Ms Taweel said Muslim Australians come from all over the country to visit it.

“It’s a really significant structure and it’s amazing it’s still there,” she said.

“I’ve spoken to a few leaders in the Islamic community, and they themselves have visited and prayed in the mosque, which is really special.”

Ms Taweel begun copper smithing five years ago while studying sculpture at art school. 

“It’s been really great exploring what the material means in each of my works.”

Her interest in copper started at an early age because mother had an array of copper items from the Middle East in the family’s home.

Ms Taweel said copper was commonly used in Islamic art.

“It is for me a material that acknowledges my Arab ancestry.

“I think it’s really special to keep exploring those decorative processes that you see have been made by traditional copper smiths, but in a contemporary art form.”

Ms Taweel’s artwork ‘Musallah’ is on show at the ACE Open contemporary art space until April 21.

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