Discover how Hellenic and Islamic civilisations coloured their world



Join us for a creative and collaborative program co-presented with our friends from the Hellenic Museum.

Learn about the chemistry of pigments, paints, inks and dyes as you make your own ancient Greek egg tempera paint fresco, and iron gall ink calligraphy masterpiece.

The workshop will begin by taking you back in time over 3,000 years to ancient Greek civilisations. Participants will learn about the history of the uniquely ancient Greek art form of fresco painting. To create a fresco, coloured pigments are applied to wet lime plaster walls without a binding agent. When the pigment is absorbed by the plaster, it becomes permanent and protected from fading.

Frescoes have become a defining trait of Hellenic culture. Interiors of villas, palaces and tombs can still be seen adorned with stunning impressions of life, nature and mythology in the Greek world.

Participants will learn how Hellenic artists chose different pigments for different mediums by painting on different types of surfaces such as wood, plaster, paper and ceramic tile. After recording their observations, participants will have developed an understanding of the science of sight, chemistry and colour theory.



In the second half of the workshop, participants will learn about the rich and decorative history of Islamic calligraphy and illumination. Participants will conduct an experiment by creating their own iron gall ink; a widely popular permanent ink used by both Islamic and Western writers alike.

A short treatise called kitab al-isaba fi lawazim al-kitaba (book on the art of penmanship) attributed to Syrian scholar Ibn al-Jazari features an entire section of ink recipes, four of which describe iron gall ink preparation.

Participants will get to take their freshly made iron gall ink home with them to use in their own writing or creative projects.

What's Included:
  • An interactive and hands-on curriculum-aligned workshop
  • All materials and tools
  • Take-home experiment
  • Admission to the Islamic Museum of Australia
Learning Outcomes as per the Victorian Curriculum:
  • Establish that natural and processed materials have a range of physical properties which can influence their use
  • Learn about cause-and-effect relationships that relate to form and function
  • Distinguish between chemical and physical change
  • Understand science knowledge can develop through collaboration and connecting ideas

About the Hellenic Museum

Founded in 2007, the Hellenic Museum is Australia's only museum dedicated to preserving and showcasing Greek art, history and culture. Located in the city of Melbourne, which boasts one of the largest Greek diaspora communities in the world, our mission is to inspire a passion for Hellenic culture from the ancient to the contemporary. By bringing together multiple artistic disciplines and perspectives, the Hellenic Museum presents a holistic experience of Greek culture and the contribution it has made, and continues to make, to society today.

Check out more of our upcoming events here.

This event is supported by:



A National Science Week event, presented with the support of the Inspiring Victoria program.

Note: Parents/guardians do not need to purchase a ticket if they are accompanying a participant to the workshop. However, parents/guardians will need to purchase an admission ticket from reception on the day if they wish to explore the Museum.