The Persian Poetry Pavilion

The temporary structure took the form of a three-dimensional poem contained within a woodland setting, reminiscent of the garden scenes depicted in the V&A’s collection, where poetry recitals would have taken place centuries ago. Eight trees come together to create the pavilion, each tree containing part of a poem by the Persian poet Omar Khayyam (1048-1123).

A three-dimensional poem
A three-dimensional poem

In Persia poetry was considered the most prestigious form of creative literature and that it was often an inspiration for art and design. The designers took one of Khayyám’s quatrains and wrote it into the branches of the eight trees, the trees inspired by a 17th-century Iranian fritware wall panel in the V&A collection.

The poem, which is read around the structure, is a translation of a quatrain from The Rubáiyát.

“The grass that grows by every stream,
Like angelic smiles faintly gleam,
Step gently cause it not to scream,
For it has grown from a lover’s dream.”

The Rubáiyát
A lover's dream

The wooden trees created a structure for hanging ‘leaves’ of Persian poetry that were created by contemporary Iranian artists working in London.  Each ‘leaf’ had a poem in English and Farsi on one side, and an interpretation by one of the artists on the other. These specially created pieces were the work of calligrapher Masoud Eftekhari and painter Vahid Sabbaghian.

Hanging 'leaves' of Persian poetry
Hanging 'leaves' of Persian poetry

We worked with a section of the Iranian community in London for six months developing the design of the pavilion. By meeting with members of the Library for Iranian Studies in Acton, London, the design was developed and then embellished.

Machine cut birch-faced ply
Machine cut birch-faced ply

The pavilion was constructed from machine cut birch-faced ply and was designed to be easily slotted together without any other fixings. The structure, which was exhibited as part of the Poetry, Picnics, and Persian Pastimes weekend at the V&A will be used for community outreach projects by the museum as a space for displaying Iranian art or storytelling.

Victoria & Albert Museum