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Writing as part of our World in London series, John Hollingworth, Galleries/Exhibitions Manager at the Brunei Gallery, explores the gallery’s relationship with the South-East Asian Sultanate.
The Brunei Gallery, SOAS is an exciting venue in central London that hosts a programme of changing contemporary and historical exhibitions from Africa, Asia and the Middle East and accompanying events. The Gallery’s aim is to present and promote art, heritage and cultures from these regions to a wider and new audience.
The gallery was built as a result of a generous benefaction from HM The Sultan of Brunei Darussalam to SOAS with the purpose of being both a student resource and public facility, and was inaugurated by HRH The Princess Royal, as Chancellor of the University of London on 22 November 1995. In addition to purpose built exhibition space on three floors facilities include the Japanese Roof Garden, book shop, lecture theatre, teaching and conference amenities.
In 2008 the gallery’s relationship with Brunei continued as we hosted the exhibition “The Islamic Sultanate of Brunei: Past and Present Culture” which contained artefacts from archaeological sites in Brunei as well as Islamic art objects from the collection of HM The Sultan of Brunei Darussalam.
The exhibition included a beautiful selection of royal regalia used during royal and state ceremonies since the introduction of the Malay Islamic Sultanate in the 14th century. This was the first and only time any of this material had been shown outside of Brunei.
The Brunei connection continues to this day, with a number of objects in our own permanent collection from Brunei, a selection of which is displayed in our Foyle Gallery. One of the most important of these is a handwritten 19th century copy of Salsilah keturunan Raja-raja Brunei (A History of the Rajas of Brunei).
Beyond our Brunei connections, the gallery has an exciting programme of events in 2012, including three exhibitions opening from mid-April:
- The Fabric of Fieldwork combines for the first time the work of Wessieling and Ossman in an exhibition of paintings, sculpture and installations inspired by research in East Asia and North Africa.
- The Inheritance of British Colonial Architecture in Sudan: A Photographic and Film Journey, by Frederique Cifuentes, which explores the history of building and planning along the Nile valley.
- Kolam: Ephemeral Patterns for Eternal Prosperity is an exhibition by Anne Laine looking at the practice of drawing geometric patterns on the streets and at the entrances of houses in Southern India and Tamil notions of divinities, continuity and change.
The Brunei Gallery, SOAS is open from Tuesday-Saturday, 10.30am – 5pm, with late night opening on Thursday until 8pm. Admission is free. For more information visit www.soas.ac.uk/gallery or on facebook.
Have you been to The Brunei Gallery? Or do you know of any other London links with Brunei? Let us know in the comments section below.