Aisha Khalid draws on Persian and Islamic art, experimenting with scale, technique and subject matter to translate historic traditions into an art practice that is politically and socially relevant today. In her transformation of elaborate techniques, Khalid subtly comments on our contemporary world, particularly issues relating to gender and violence.

Taking its title from the words of the thirteenth-century Persian poet Rumi, ‘Water has never feared the fire’ 2018 is a triptych of tapestries created with thousands of pins. The central panel is based on the quadrilateral garden layout of the Charbagh (‘four gardens’ in Urdu). The Charbagh represents the quintessential Islamic garden from the Qur’an, and is a symbol of paradise on earth. The four sections constitute the four gardens of paradise and are delineated by four water channels representing the rivers of paradise. Within the sections are dragons and phoenix – creatures that appear widely in Persian art – while the outer panels’ geometric designs represent water, in which sea creatures and ships symbolise trade and the movement of peoples and cultures. Motifs on one side of her tapestry are barely distinguishable on the reverse, including a central design, which, in Mughal architecture and gardens, would be the space where the heavenly symbols culminate.

Exhibited in 'The 9th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art' (APT9) | 24 Nov 2018 – 28 Apr 2019


  • Title: Water has never feared the fire
  • Creator: Aisha Khalid b.1972
  • Date Created: 2018
  • Location Created: Pakistan
  • Physical Dimensions: Three panels: 493 x 167.5 x 6cm; 493 x 84 x 3cm; 493 x 84 x 6cm
  • Provenance: Commissioned for APT9. The Kenneth and Yasuko Myer Collection of Contemporary Asian Art. Purchased 2018 with funds from The Myer Foundation through the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art Foundation to commemorate the 25th anniversary of The Kenneth and Yasuko Myer Collection of Contemporary Asian Art
  • Subject Keywords: APT9, The 9th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art
  • Type: Textile
  • Publisher: Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art
  • Rights: © Aisha Khalid
  • External Link: Installing Aisha Khalid’s steel and gold-plated pin tapestry, Aisha Khalid transforms traditional miniature painting with pins
  • Medium: Fabric, gold-plated and steel pins
  • Art Form: Textile

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