This bowl was decorated with slips, made of different coloured clays mixed with water. This technique allowed potters to create the crisp lines required to form defined, angular letters. Here the text probably gives a blessing to the owner. (Courtesy of The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery, Stoke on Trent, 1955P89. Photo ©The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery, Stoke on Trent)


The words and images painted on this bowl were inspired by those found in illustrated manuscripts. On other similar objects, words painted on the surface include excerpts from celebrated poetry. The detailed designs were achieved using an enamelling technique, known as ‘minai’, in which pigments and quartz were melted together to form this colourful decoration. (Courtesy of The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery, Stoke on Trent, 1952P104. Photo ©The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery, Stoke on Trent)


Tile Iran, 1609 CE (AH 1018) Fritware painted in blue and black under a clear glaze Courtesy of The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery, Stoke on Trent (1950P251) ©The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery, Stoke on Trent)

Tile
Iran, 1609 CE (AH 1018)
Fritware painted in blue and black under a clear glaze
Courtesy of The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery, Stoke on Trent (1950P251)
©The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery, Stoke on Trent)

This tile records the death, in the early 17th century, of a barber, Hajji Al-Haramayn Sharifi Hajar Muhammad Tahir. The rounded script and other decoration are both painted under the glaze surface, using a revolutionary technique developed in Iran during the 13th century.


Khaled Ben Slimane writes in rapid, graffiti-like style on many of his artworks. This writing, when combined with the use of colour and technique reminiscent of historic objects, adds layers of meaning to Slimane's work and links it with past traditions and his own heritage.

Khaled Ben Slimane Bricks, 1990s Pottery, painted underglaze in polychrome colours Courtesy of the Trustees of the British Museum (2006,0313.7-8) ©Khaled Ben Slimane / Photo ©The Trustees of the British Museum.

Khaled Ben Slimane
Bricks, 1990s
Pottery, painted underglaze in polychrome colours
Courtesy of the Trustees of the British Museum (2006,0313.7-8)
©Khaled Ben Slimane / Photo ©The Trustees of the British Museum.

The discovery of a stash of old family contracts in Slimane's grandfather's house in Tunisia inspired the creation of these bricks. The writing on the contracts was puzzling and sometimes difficult to read, qualities reflected in the sketchy appearance of the letters painted on the bricks.

Khaled Ben Slimane Cones, 1990s Pottery, painted underglaze in polychrome colours Courtesy of the Trustees of the British Museum (2006,0313.1) ©Khaled Ben Slimane / Photo ©The Trustees of the British Museum

Khaled Ben Slimane
Cones, 1990s
Pottery, painted underglaze in polychrome colours
Courtesy of the Trustees of the British Museum (2006,0313.1)
©Khaled Ben Slimane / Photo ©The Trustees of the British Museum

Invocations to God and Qur'anic verses are painted on these cones. This connects with Slimane's Sufi heritage. Sufism, or mystical Islam, incorporates a ritual known as 'dhikr', in which the names of God and spiritual phrases are spoken repeatedly in remembrance of Him.