Land, Memory & Belonging:

A conversation about art and education in Palestine with Vera Tamari


Vera Tamari


Dr Yara Sharaf (Westminster University)




Vera Tamari is one of Palestine's prominent visual artists as well as a leading Islamic art historian, art educator and curator. Her more than six decades of practice, research, teaching and institution building offers a remarkable insight into the development of art and art education in late 20th century and early 21st century Palestine. In this conversation with award-winning architect and scholar, Yara Sharif, Vera Tamari will explore art and art education in Palestine in the 75th year since the Nakba of 1948, through the themes of land, memory and belonging, which have often inspired her work.


Vera Tamari is a visual artist, Islamic art historian, art educator and curator. She received her undergraduate degree in Fine Arts from the Beirut College for Women (now LAU) in 1966 and specialized in ceramics at the Istituto Statale d’Arte per la Ceramica in Florence, Italy in 1974. In 1984 she obtained an M. Phil. Degree in Islamic Art and Architecture from the University of Oxford and served for more than two decades as professor of Islamic Art and Architecture and Art History at Birzeit University, where she also founded and directed the Birzeit University Museum between 2005 and 2010. Tamari is actively involved in the promotion of art and culture in Palestine and serves as advisor and member to numerous institutions and cultural boards. As artist she specializes in ceramic sculpture and conceptual art and has exhibited widely in Palestine, the Arab World and internationally. Intimate Reflections: The Art of Vera Tamari featuring her art and career, was published by the A.M. Qattan Foundation in 2021.She published in 2022, RETURNING, Palestinian family memories in clay reliefs, photographs and text.


Dr Yara Sharif is Senior Lecturer at Westminster University and practicing architect with an interest in design as a tool to rethink contested landscape, with a new take on architectural practice. Yara’s work runs parallel between her practice NG Architects and the design studio at the University of Westminster. She co-founded Palestine Regeneration Team (PART); a design-led research group that aims through speculative and live projects to search for creative and responsive spatial possibilities in fragmented landscape. Her research, design and pedagogical practice aim to disrupt the colonial power with its hegemony and hierarchy of knowledge production, through alternative spatial narratives. She sheds a light on ‘forgotten’ communities, while also interrogating the relationship between politics and architecture. Her book Architecture of Resistance as well as the collaborative work with PART on re-imagining spatial possibilities in Palestine, have won the RIBA President’s Award for Research, in 2013 and 2016.

The Education, Occupation & Liberation programme was launched in 2018 to mark Fobzu’s 40th anniversary and is co-hosted with the University and College Union (UCU).

The series of lectures and seminars brings together Palestinian, UK and international scholars, students and practitioners to explore the challenges facing Palestinian education and its role in creating a free and flourishing Palestine. Speakers consider the struggle of Palestinian students and educators, approaches to liberation education and the contribution of Palestine to decolonising curricula in the UK.

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