V.I.T.A. was founded to specialise in the arts and architecture of Islam in particular, but has extended its interests to include the traditional arts of other civilisations. One of the principal aims of V.I.T.A. is to encourage an appreciation of the universal values that are fundamental to the art of the great traditions of the world. V.I.T.A. encourages an awareness amongst its students that the beauty of form, pattern and colour as manifested in the various branches of Islamic art (or indeed in any traditional art), are not simply aesthetically pleasing or demonstrations of good design but are representatives of a more profound universal order.
The Visual Islamic and Traditional Arts programme (V.I.T.A.) is now in its sixteenth year of existence. Starting at the Royal College of Art it was responsible for awarding the first doctoral degrees at that institution. V.I.T.A., since its inception, has pioneered practical post-graduate degrees; these are undertaken at Masters degree level and at Doctoral level. On its transfer to The Prince of Wales' Institute of Architecture in 1993, the VITA programme was awarded validation for its degrees from The University of Wales. VITA has continued to flourish under the auspices of The Prince's Foundation, taking not only more students but also more specialised staff and winning wide recognition for its work.
V.I.T.A. is unique in offering a programme which integrates a comprehensive understanding of the philosophy and practical skills of craftsmanship at post-graduate level. The students thus study art from 'within': for instance through learning the practical skills of geometry, and simultaneously learning its significance as the language underpinning the sacred and traditional arts of the world, the student is offered the opportunity to participate in the contemplative nature of art, and to realise through activity and participation - rather than observation and theoretical study - that the intricate and subtle patterns transcend the purely decorative realm and embody a profound and timeless beauty.
We welcome students who are of the same spirit and who chose to reinforce the vision of the Prince of Wales - not only by relearning the values of the traditional arts, but also by making a practical contribution to their survival.