Mary Beardwood spent many years teaching in Arabia, and in 2000 published The Children’s Encyclopaedia of Arabia (later revised and reissued as The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Arabia). During this time she became fascinated by Islamic Art and in 2005 took a study course at the British Museum while building up her own library of works on the subject.
In recent years, collections of Islamic Art have been the subject of much renewed interest, and refurbished galleries have opened at the Metropolitan Museum in New York, the Victoria and Albert in London, the Louvre in Paris and the David Collection in Copenhagen. In addition, wonderful new Islamic Art museums have opened in the countries of the Arabian Gulf reflecting the desire to preserve their heritage. Mary has visited these collections, and noted how little there was in the book stores to help children engage with the subject and help parents extend the experience of a museum visit.
Drawing on her experience of teaching, and studying Islamic Art, Mary has developed a simple, yet comprehensive overview of the important strands of the subject and the wider area, geographically and historically, that were connected by the Islamic Empire. By adding art activities and weblinks she has made it relevant to today’s children.