(19 March - 8 August 2021)
Iranzamin (Land of the Persians) was the first survey exhibition of Persian arts and crafts acquired by the Powerhouse Museum since its founding in 1880. It explored the stories behind rarely seen artefacts from the mid-19th century to now, shedding light on the diverse social and cultural history of Persia – today’s Iran – and its people.
The exhibition examined how objects inspired by traditional arts and crafts were used in the Persian society, focusing on seven themes: Joy and Happiness; Purification and Cleansing; Spirituality and Devotion; Poetry and Calligraphy; Rituals and Performance; Patronage and Craftsmanship; Nature and Design. Iranzamin encompasses a diversity of materials and techniques, including hand-woven crafts, carpets and rugs; arms and armour; glass, ceramics and tiles; textiles, embroidery and foundry.
Iranzamin examined how the influence of Persia, situated between two major trade routes – the Silk Road and the Indian Ocean – spread out into the world. Special attention was paid to the influence of Persian culture on non-Iranian craftsmen and artists such as Australian painter and textile designer Florence Broadhurst. This included original Broadhurst wallpaper prints entitled Persian Phoenix (Simorgh), Persian Birds, and Persian Pomegranate Flowers.
Curatorial talk with Inside The Gallery Podcast
Lisa Havilah: The way that Iranzamin started was, we're undertaking a very big digitization collection project where we're assessing and digitizing 338,000 objects from our collection. And so, we have a huge team of over a hundred people working on that project. And so, what we were looking for was to look at very particular aspects of the collection and Pedram has been working with us for a year. I started to work on looking at particularly the Persian Iranian collections. And through that work, we really realized the extent of that collection. And he developed the show and I think it was really the opportunity to bring out those objects and those stories that had never been seen before. And I think that's not the only thing that's come out of Pedram's work. Not only do we have the exhibition, but all of these objects and their interpretation will be online anytime. So, we're really excited about that.
...And I think endless opportunity to tell stories, but connect communities where their history is. And I think that's one of the things that's very special about Iranzamin is the work that Pedram is doing with communities right across Sydney and Western Sydney to really interpret those objects, but connect those Sydney, New South Wales, Australian communities with Iranian Persian cultures.