Making Paradise 

Exploring the concept of Eden through Art & Islamic Garden Design

29 April – 30 September 2021

“The garden has for many centuries served as a central element in Muslim culture. The Holy Qur’an portrays the garden as a central symbol of a spiritual ideal — a place where human creativity and Divine majesty are fused, where the ingenuity of humanity and the beauty of nature are productively connected. Gardens are a place where the ephemeral meets the eternal, and where the eternal meets the hand of man.” 

His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan IV

Presented as a collaborative project between AKF-UK, AKU-ISMC, IIS, AKM and AKTC, Making Paradise invites us to explore concepts of Paradise through art and Islamic garden design. At the heart of the exhibition is a key message from His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan IV around pluralism and the importance of gardens as spaces that unite communities. This is conveyed through a series statements and an Aga Khan Development Network gardens film made in 2018, depicting the impressive garden restoration projects achieved by AKDN around the world.

This exhibition includes the work of Islamic Garden Designer Emma Clark, Perfumer Alessandro Cancian and artists Farkhondeh Ahmadzadeh, Veeda Ahmed, Mohammad Barrangi, Jung Byun, Clare Celeste Boersch, Jethro Buck, Rachel Dein, Yasmin Hayat, Sharmina Haq, Zarah Hussain, Jane Lee McCracken, Karen Nicol, Olga Prinku, Geoff Sample, Shorsh Saleh, Soraya Syed and Ross P Taylor.

The exhibition does not attempt to create Paradise but rather offers us a multi-sensory exploration that touches upon the subject through contemporary and historical interpretations. It is a group exhibition that intentionally mixes digital reproductions of classical miniature paintings from Aga Khan Museum’s permanent collection with other eastern and western depictions of Paradise. Connecting also to Aga Khan Centre’s Islamic Gardens, the central feature is a bespoke ‘silent’ fountain designed by Emma Clark from which a poetic installation of water ascends, created by Berlin based visual artist Clare Celeste Boersch.

Making Paradise exhibition collaborations with the Royal Horticultural Society’s Lindley Library, The Princes Foundation School of Traditional Arts and The Royal School of Needlework. There will also be a diverse online and live learning programme on offer later this year. Further details to follow in due course.