February 2018 Alumni Feature - Sufiyan Hanafi
Sufiyan Hanafi, from the UCL Qatar Class of 2016 - currently a Collections and Curatorial Researcher at the Malay Heritage Centre in Singapore, shares his advice for prospective students, experiences gained from placements in New York and Kuala Lumpur, and class collaborations with museums in Qatar.
1)Could you please tell us more about yourself, when did you graduate?
Hello! I'm Sufiyan from Singapore and I graduated from UCL Qatar in 2016 having successfully completed the MSc. Conservation Studies programme.
2)What is your current occupation/post?
I'm currently a Collections and Curatorial Researcher at the Malay Heritage Centre (MHC), which is under the management of the National Heritage Board of Singapore, in partnership with the Malay Heritage Foundation.
3) How has your time as a student at UCL Qatar allowed you to succeed in your current field?
During my time in UCL Qatar, I have not only learnt from the professors, instructors and professionals from the field but also from my peers who hail from different academic backgrounds and professions. For instance in my class, I had coursemates who graduated from the field of archaeology, chemistry, painting and printmaking. These made class discussions and sharing sessions more interesting as everyone shared different perspectives on the issues presented. Furthermore we had various opportunities to interact with individuals from institutions from all over the world whether through conferences, lectures or during the work placement periods. I had the opportunity to undertake my placements at the Brooklyn Museum in New York, USA, and the Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur. Through these placements, I learnt a lot from the conservators from these institutions whether it was a matter of understanding the objects or undertaking a particular object treatment. They were so passionate in imparting their knowledge and experiences to me. I am humbled by this massive trove of information and networks which would help me succeed in this field.
4) What advice would you give to prospective students who are interested in applying for UCL Qatar?
I was really nervous when I first applied to UCL Qatar as I barely knew the institution and country itself. But I felt it was a good opportunity to be based in Qatar given their interest in promoting their cultural heritage within the region and the world. My advice to prospective students is to have an open mind and constantly engage in professional networking because you will never know what is in store for you. Most importantly, soak in the atmosphere of Doha as it is rapidly transforming into a hub of sorts whether it is related to education, sports or culture.
5) Do you have any memories from your time at UCL Qatar you would like to share?
I've had many wonderful memories during my time at UCL Qatar and one of the most memorable ones was when our class collaborated with the Sheikh Faisal Bin Qassim Al-Thani (FBQ) Museum to present an exhibition entitled Recovered Treasures in 2015 at FBQ Museum itself. The exhibition reveals the information hidden within the objects from the museum and highlights the examination methods, analytical techniques, and treatments used by the students to both investigate and preserve the treasures. We had the opportunity to present to the public a subject close to our hearts and we were pleasantly surprised with the outcome of the exhibition. One other highlight was when I was invited over to QF Radio and be interviewed on the exhibition itself. It was a nerve-wrecking experience as it was the first time I was live on public radio.
6) What was your favourite place to hang out/relax/study in UCL Qatar?
I particularly like to hang out and relax at the patio/open courtyard on the second floor because that's where I can expect to bump into other UCL Qatar students chilling there as well. It is always breezy and cool there (except during summer of course).
7) Have any hidden talents or special interests that you would like to share with us?
Don't really have any talents to speak of but I grew up being fascinated with archaeology and fortunately for this programme, I had the opportunity to work with archaeological samples amongst others. It would have been fantastic to get down and dirty in the field looking for shards instead. My best buddy from UCL Qatar, Mikel Herran Subinas, is an archaeologist himself and I'm always jealous seeing him out in the field conducting surveys and digs!
8) What's next, Sufiyan ?
MHC is currently in the midst of preparing for our upcoming special exhibition entitled, "Undangan ke Baitullah: Pilgrims' Stories from the Malay World to Mākkah", which delves into the history and material culture of the Hajj routes from the Malay Archipelago to the ancient city of Mākkah (Mecca) on the Arabian Peninsula. This exhibition will open in October of 2018 till June 2019. I am ecstatic to be part of this project as not only has it been one of my favourite subject but I am excited to unravel the various accounts of people who embarked on this amazing spiritual journey. You should come and visit the exhibition if you ever are in Singapore! :)
Be a part of the UCL Qatar community. Admissions for the 2018 academic year are now open, apply now at https://www.ucl.ac.uk/qatar/study/apply-now.