Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque by Julian Mullineux

The mystical aura of Arabia together with the exclusive and forbidden feelings evoked by the striking spiritual structure of the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque in Muscat compelled me to step inside. My immediate sense was one of absolutely beauty.

The serene, restorative atmosphere soothed the existential questions that challenged my Being. It inferred the transcendental and it was within this opulent, sacred space the challenges of everyday existence were forgotten. It is this sensation that I am manifesting in the aesthetics of my compositions. I endeavour to evoke in the viewer a feeling and place inaccessible to the intellect with the accompanying deep sense of being in the ‘now’. It was from this awe-inspiring encounter where I met myself that my Grand Mosque Series was borne. Existential philosophy inspires me particularly aspects of Being, space and time.

I went home to pick up my camera and returned to the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque. I do not routinely carry a camera as a matter of course as I have experienced this at times to be encumbering in the sense of the anticipation and/or expectation to photograph. This, I feel, can distance me from the primacy of immediate experience. I know when it is time to create and I trust my instinct.

My wish to immerse myself in the Grand Mosque Series had an added dimension of my wanting to overcome a guilt of my ignorance concerning the Arabian Peninsula. With my wife and I having been granted the privilege to live in Oman as British expats, I could develop a better understanding of Omani culture. In addition to the transcendental dimension of this series as described above, I noticed a mirroring of the outside environment of the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque namely the everyday Omani ambiance being reflected in the interior space. I had subconsciously captured the peaceful, calm and respectful tone of this distinctive cultural atmosphere together with the jewel-like brilliance of the hues of the sea and sky; the dramatic sculpture of the mountains and aromatic scents of spice. A combination of layering together multiple exposures and use of vibrant colour places the viewer into the surreal ether of the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque.