Melanie Gibson - The Courtauld Institute of Art

Melanie Gibson

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Associate Lecturer Melanie Gibson

My research focuses on the ceramics and glass of the Islamic world and I am also interested and have written on plaster, ceramic and metal sculpture from the region. My doctoral dissertation (under review for publication) was a study of a large group of glazed ceramic figurines produced in Iran and Syria in the pre-Mongol period (circa 1150-1250).

In my most recent research projects I have looked at the reception and use of Islamic pattern in nineteenth century British design, the transmission and impact of Chinese ceramics in medieval Iran, and the development of the blue and white aesthetic across the history of Islamic ceramics.  I am currently writing a general catalogue for a private ceramics collection to be exhibited in the US, and a more specialised catalogue of a collection of Timurid ceramics.

Research interests

  • Enamelled glass from Syria and Egypt
  • Ceramics from Iran, Iraq, Syria and Egypt, ninth to nineteenth century
  • Ceramic, metal and plaster sculpture in the Islamic world
  • Ceramic exchanges between China and the Islamic world
  • Islamic inspiration in nineteenth century British  design, particularly tilework

Recent publications

Chapters and Articles in Edited Volumes (from 2005)

  •  ‘Colouring the Surface: A Taste for ‘Persian’ Tiles in English domestic architecture, 1870-1914’,  Art, Trade, and Culture in the Near East and India: From the Fatimids to the Mughals, edited by J.M. Rogers, Alison Ohta, Rosalind Wade Haddon, Gingko Library, London (forthcoming October 2016).
  •  ‘Animal sculptures’ in Brasses, Bronze and Silver of the Islamic Lands, Nasser D. Khalili Collection of Islamic Art Vol. XI, (general editor Julian Raby) Nour Foundation, London (forthcoming 2017).
  •  ‘A symbolic khāṣṣakῑya: representations of the palace guard in murals and stucco sculpture’, in Arab Art, Architecture and Material Culture: New Perspectives. Proceedings from a Workshop held at the Centre for Advanced Study of the Arab World, ed. Margaret S. Graves with a foreword by Robert Hillenbrand, Oxford, 2012, pp. 81-91.
  • The Sarikhani Collection. An Introduction, (Co-editor and contributing author) London 2011.
  • ‘The Enigmatic Figure: Ceramic sculpture from Iran and Syria c. 1150-1250’, Transactions of the Oriental Ceramic Society, Vol. 73, London, 2008-9, pp. 39-50.
  • ‘Admirably Ornamented Glass’ in: ‘Glass:From Sasanian Antecedents to European Imitations’, Nasser D. Khalili Collection of Islamic Art Vol. XV, (general editor Julian Raby) Nour Foundation, London, 2005, pp. 262-291.


  • Arthur Millner, Damascus Tiles: Mamluk and Ottoman Architectural Ceramics from Syria, London 2015
  • The Oriental Ceramic Society Newsletter, November 2015, pp. 33-34.
  • Lisa Golombek, Robert B. Mason, Patricia Proctor and Eileen Reilly, ‘Persian Pottery in the First Global Age: The Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries’, Oxford 2013, The Oriental Ceramics Society Newsletter, October 2014, pp.28-29.
  • Rocco Rante and Annabelle Collinet, Nishapur Revisited: Stratigraphy and Pottery of the Qohandez, The Oriental Ceramic Society Newsletter, May 2013, pp. 33-4
  • Barbara Karl, Treasury, Kunstkammer, Museum: Objects from the Islamic World in the Museum, Orientalistische Literaturzeitung Jahrgang 107, Heft 6, 2012: pp. 403-5.
  • ‘Ceramic Sculpture from the Medieval Islamic World’, Hadeeth al-Dar, Kuwait, June 2012, pp. 24-8
  • ‘The Brocklebank Collection’, Magdalen College Record, Oxford, November 2011
  • Mariam Rosser-Owen, Islamic Arts from Spain, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, October 2011, pp. 511-3
  • Shah ‘Abbas: The Remaking of Iran, British Museum Reading Room,  19 February – 14 June 2009, Middle East in London , London Middle East Institute,  February 2009

Other academic activity

  • Senior Editor, Gingko Library Art Series.
  • Director, Islamic Module, Postgraduate Diploma in Asian Art, SOAS, University of London.
  • Trustee of Leighton House.
  • Outreach Director for the British Institute of Persian Studies (BIPS).
  • Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society.
  • Council Member, Oriental Ceramic Society 2010-2013.

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