Hajj: journey to the heart of Islam


British Museum
January 2012

Over 140,000 people from across the UK and the world visited the Hajj exhibition during it's two and half month run. The Evening Standard's Brian Sewell declared it "An exhibition of profound cultural importance" and the Guardian's Jonathan Jones said it as "one of the most brilliant exhibitions the British Museum has put on".

Audio and Projected Photography

Clay produced a number of audio pieces for the historic round reading room used for this exhibition.

Visitors were ushered along a curved corridor to the start of the exhibition with the sound of Hajj pilgrims alongside them, and the Islamic call to prayer in the distance.

Arriving at the start of the exhibition, visitors were presented with a projection of stunning photography accompanied by quotations that help introduce the significance of Hajj. Projected onto black at a large scale, the black and white photography has a powerful, almost magical, quality that helps reinforce the deeply spiritual nature of the Hajj.

Towards the end of the exhibition journey, in a more contemplative space that included contemporary art works, Clay edited together a sequence of excerpts of interviews with contemporary pilgrims. Their voices and personal stories helped communicate the deeply spiritual and emotional nature of a Hajji’s journey.

Archive films

Working closely with British Museum’s exhibition team, Clay digitally enhanced archive material and edited together two short films showing different aspects of the journey to Mecca over the years.

The Mahmal film sat alongside the large object on display in the exhibition and helped visitors to contextualise the object, imagining the journeys it had been on.

The Jeddah film focussed on the different methods of transport that have been used through the ages to get to Mecca. Transport is one of the few things that have actually changed about the Hajj since the Prophet Muhammad’s time in the 7th century AD.

HD film

Hajj is the pilgrimage to Mecca that every Muslim must make at least once in their lifetime if they are able. This major exhibition charted the history of this deeply personal journey that millions of people undertake every year.

Only Muslims are allowed into Mecca and permission to film the Hajj is a rare opportunity. The British Museum had access to the rights to use excerpts from the breath-taking IMAX© movie Journey To Mecca www.journeytomecca.co.uk which includes stunning photography of the rituals that make up the Hajj.

Clay worked closely with the Museum to create a seven-minute full HD film that introduced visitors to the poetic scale and intimate rituals of Hajj.

Images © The Trustees of the British Museum