I am currently researching the long cultural relationship between Iran and Britain, as described through the export of historic and contemporary artworks from Iran for British art collections in the late nineteenth century, and for the V&A in particular. For Britain, this export phenomenon emerged via several distinct causes, which were economic, aesthetic, intellectual and above all political. Within this international context, the book examines how the V&A acquired its substantial collections of Iranian art, chiefly between 1873 and 1893. Greatly varied, these acquisitions supported the V&A’s dual mission to improve British manufacturing as well as public taste, and were strongly influential on Victorian conceptions of Iran and its material heritage. By heightening British “brand awareness” of the Persian carpet, for example, Iran’s carpet export boom was guaranteed. Likewise, the relationship between the Qajar state and the international cultural profile it sought for Iran is exemplified through the V&A’s collections, which include direct donations from Nasruddin Shah and his ministers, as well as a bulk purchase made at the state-sanctioned national pavilion at the Paris Exhibition of 1889.
“‘In the Absence of Originals’: replicating the tilework of Safavid Isfahan for South Kensington”, Architecture and Mobility issue, ed. C.J. Gruber, International Journal of Islamic Architecture, (2014).
(co-written with Margaret Graves) “Introduction: the historiography of Islamic art and architecture”, The Journal of Art Historiography, 6 (June 2012).