Faith and Fortune is back, in Exeter

Masthead of exhibition Faith and Fortune: visualising the divine in Byzantine and Islamic Coinage, at the Barber Institute of Fine Arts, 8 November 2013 to 30 November 2014

Masthead of exhibition Faith and Fortune: visualising the divine in Byzantine and Islamic Coinage, now on show again, at the Street Gallery, Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, University of Exeter

If you remember me mentioning Faith and Fortune: visualising the divine on Byzantine and early Islamic coinage, the rather excellent coin exhibition at the Barber Institute of Fine Arts which preceded my current one, and thought it sounded fun but did not in fact manage to go to it, you may be pleased to know that there is now a second chance! By a happy series of coincidences the fine people in charge of the Street Gallery at the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies at the University of Exeter got to hear about it and decided they would like to host it, and so in April we packed the boards up and sent them down with supporting materials and one of the original curators, Dr Rebecca Darley, in tow to give an introductory lecture. It has been open since 25th May (sorry) and will be until 19th December 2015, so there is plenty of time to go and see it still! I present the exhibition information:

Faith and Fortune is the first exhibition in several years that draws exclusively from the in-house collections of the Barber Institute of Fine Arts. The principal chronological focus of the exhibition spans the years A.D. 300-750 but includes later 13th-century Turkmen material. The exhibition has been the focus of a presentation at the British Museum and has received positive reviews from specialists in medieval history, the Middle East and numismatics. It focuses on these particular themes and the current scholarly and research interest in Late Antiquity. The over-arching theme of the exhibition concentrates on the use of Late Antique coinage as a platform for the promotion of the respective political and religious ideals of the Byzantine, Umayyad and Sasanian Empires. This focus serves as a springboard for the exhibition to explore divergent attitudes among Byzantine, Sasanian and early Islamic societies regarding the representation of divine figures or religious subjects. The exhibition is curated by Rebecca Darley (4th-7th century Byzantine and imitation coinage) and Daniel Reynolds (7th-8th century Arab-Byzantine and early Islamic coinage) and the expertise of the Coin Collections Assistants Maria Vrij (7th-9th century Byzantine coinage and iconography) and Ali Miynat (Turkmen coinage).

Display of the exhibition Faith and Fortune: visualising the divine on Byzantine and early Islamic Coinage, at the Street Gallery, Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, University of Exeter

The display in situ at the Street Gallery

This image was a bit peculiar to receive, because I’ve been there: two of the conferences I’ve been to at Exeter have been held in the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies and I clearly remember not being able to afford to buy Richard Hitchcock’s books in that gallery space. Nonetheless, it is a good space for actual displays too! You will observe that there are no display cases, so we were not able to send the actual coins along with the boards; instead they have been replaced with life-size photographic reproductions that get the points across nearly as well. I must also acknowledge the help of Rebecca Darley of the Bilderfahrzeuge Project at the Warburg Institute, University of London, Evelina Kuvykovaite of the University of Warwick and Jane Clark and the team at the Street Gallery for making it all so easy for us collectively to set this up; it was remarkably easy to do, and hopefully worth it for many visitors!

3 responses to “Faith and Fortune is back, in Exeter

  1. Hello

    Every Sunday I’m attending the Orthodox Sermon in my church.
    Hagia Sophia and Saint John Chrysostom are mentioned at every sermon.
    This is about hardcore Orthodox Christians .
    But you ,what are you doing there ?
    What sort of history twists and remake are Rebecca Darley and Daniel Reynolds doing ?
    And you are advertising on your blog?

    Why do you see anything in common ,except the edge of the sword ,between Byzantium and Turkish invaders?
    What have in common Byzantium with Islamic Studies ?

    Shame on you counterfeiters.
    From now this site is spam here.

    Mircea,a dissapointed reader.Just lost my time on you and your accomplice

    • I’m not sure where you have found in that post that the exhibition sees anything in common between Byzantium and Islam, although the holy books shared between the two religions would be a good place to start. If you were to go to the exhibition, though, you would see Islamic coins with Christian, and indeed, Byzantine imagery on them, not counterfeits but regular seventh-century issues. Of course there was conflict, that’s how the political situation came to be, and that conflict is partly expressed on the coinage and competing ideas of divinity. But there was enough interaction for that competition to exist. It might comfort you to know that the curators originally consulted with both the Birmingham Orthodox community and local Muslim representatives to ensure that sensibilities like this were addressed in the exhibition materials.

  2. Pingback: The Empress, her Son, her General and his Heir | A Corner of Tenth-Century Europe

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