Archive for June 2010

Special edition catalogues – in collaboration with Susan Mortimer

June 29, 2010

Some weeks ago I randomly got into conversation with fellow final yr (online) student Susan Mortimer who, as mentioned in a previous post, puts together and hand makes the Mail Art One zine. Susan also makes one-off special edition books/catalogues showcasing work by solo artists. So I suggested that it would be really cool if we one day used my mirror card cut-outs as covers for special edition books featuring some of my work from the MA.

And lovely and kind as Susan is, she said why not?, let’s do it now (instead of some time in the future which is what I was thinking). Obviously I was going to jump at the chance and thought wow if she’s willing to try it then I am soo game and therefore I set about ordering specific double-sided mirror card for this mini project.

Black and white versions of special edition books - collaboration: Sara Choudhrey and Susan Mortimer

Black and white versions of special edition books - collaboration: Hand-cut covers by Sara Choudhrey and printing and binding by Susan Mortimer

The books are a mini showcase of some of the images from my experimentation through the MA project so far. I chose 10 images which I think some of the key visual elements of my work and added a few coloured samples to give some variation to the black and white theme. I think they work well together in the book and I asked Susan to arrange an order that she thought would suit them best (it’s hard to see your work objectively when you’ve been concentrating on it for so long). She did a great job.

Browsing through the book

Browsing through the book

I hand-cut a few of the sheets using pat7 (the pattern used for all aspects of the final piece) and arranged it so that the 10-point star would be in the middle of the front and the back.

White version with full front and back cutting

White version with full front and back cutting

Black version with half cut cover

Black version with half-cut cover

I slightly altered the symmetry towards the spine too to make it fit appropriately. These sheets were then sent to Susan so she could test the binding and this morning I had the pleasure of receiving the proofs to look at.

Black and white versions of the books

Black and white versions of the books

I actually can’t decide which one I like best. We originally had the black one all black (even the middle section with the star in black too), but then this evening I thought I’d see how it looked with that cut out too and I quite liked it. And this is something I can do once Susan has finished the printing and binding on her side.

Susan has posted about her side of the process here:

Images of the books taken by Susan - capturing the shadows and reflections produced by the double-sided mirror card cut-out

Images of the books taken by Susan - capturing the shadows and reflections produced by the double-sided mirror card cut-out

We’ve just got a few more tweaks to do and then I’ll have around 20 of these special editions. I’m even contemplating having a couple on a plinth in the light room of the MADA (MA Digital Arts) exhibition space, but I’m going to leave this as an option if time permits rather than a must. Also, need to ask the others if there is space for it …

I now just need to get on with cutting the rest of the 20 covers! I may need a two-week long hand massage once I’m done.

Afternoon of real DIY

June 29, 2010

So when I did finally get back to the 3Dresource guys, with intervals of a bit of waiting I was shown how to use the drilling machine with a large circular saw type bit. This was roughly the right size for the circles I needed to cut out of my MDF for extra ventilation towards the top of both the side panels of the plinth. As heat rises there should be some release via these holes.

Karel, the manager of the department, gave me a few safety tips and showed me where to clamp the MDF and supporting wood down and how to clean the saw bit every now and again so that it wouldn’t get caught and burn instead of continue cutting through.

The drilling machine used for cutting the circles

The drilling machine used for cutting the circles

Cutting circles out of MDF

Close-up of cutting circles out of MDF

Although I was slightly nervous – having not handled any of this kind of machinery since secondary school (about 9 yrs ago now!) – I soon got the hang of it and finished cutting the circles in very good time.

Next we needed to tackle the harder job of routing. I had to wait around a bit at this point as all the technicians were busy and Karel had to go to a meeting so I was told it would have to wait till Wednesday afternoon. I’m not the type to ever panic ( gets you nowhere) but inside I’m thinking, oh man, this is never gonna get finished and what about my deadlines? Because seriously I need to have everything, and I mean EVERYTHING done by this weekend!

I decided to just start painting the panels that were already cut. No point in moping around. I’d made all the effort to get my MDF to uni and had to make do with what I could in terms of productivity.

Preparing to paint the MDF

Preparing to paint the MDF

About an hour later, Gillian, kind and super helpful Gillian, a technician who had been working in the upstairs gallery space came down and said we could have a go at doing the routing.

The routing needs to be done so that there is a recess for the other pattern-cut MDF to sit. This would form part of the front panel of the plinth.  In order to cut this in the correct rectangular window we had to cut out the middle section – not as easy as I thought it would be.

Firstly, we drilled holes into the corners of the rectangle I had marked out and then used the jigsaw to go along very close to the edges so that routing would be easier to do later.

The jigsaw we used to cut the following panel out

The jigsaw we used to cut the following panel out

Gillian showed me how to use the Jigsaw and I got to do a lot of the cutting using it. It was hard work to hold it down and keep it going straight and so my arm started getting tired but I finished it and manged to curve the corners too. I also had to make sure my hands weren’t too close to the saw bit. It was a scary start but fun to get stuck into some proper DIY 🙂

The router and the jigsaw cut MDF

The router and the jigsaw cut MDF

Gillian neatened up the edges using the router – which will also be used to create the recess. It’s a really good tool for making sure all edges are straight.

So hopefully I’ll back at in the workshop to finish this off. I’m hoping I can get it done by the end of Wednesday as I feel really anxious that it’s really close to the assessment deadline of early next week. I need to have everything installed by Saturday latest so that I can concentrate on the Unit2 assessment page which needs to be up by  July 5th.

I also haven’t had the chance to help the others with setting up the general exhibition space yet and then there’s health and safety risk assessment forms to be completed as well as the instruction sheet for the exhibition period. I find that I prefer not to talk about what needs to be done, I’d rather just get on with it and not make myself stressed by just thinking about it.

I’m looking forward to the days after the assessment when I’ll be able to relax and focus on just the show itself.

Killing an hour

June 28, 2010

So I’m at uni, just finished eating my sandwich really slowly so that I can kill an hour before getting back to the 3D resources. This morning, regardless of feeling really unwell, I got up and visited the joinery store near home where, over the phone, I was told they’d be able to cut the smaller pieces out of my mdf, as well as the one large piece for the front panel. I get there and they say they cant do it, but told me to try another place down the road. So I did and same story, need a cnc router, (pronounced raowter) because normal tools/machines can’t do anything but straight lines. Sooo then I drove all the MDF, paint, bits and pieces to uni. Now I’ve never driven to uni before. It’s South London so I knew the general direction was over the Thames and then straightish but decided to use my sat nav to be on the safe side. I don’t know wtc happened to the satnav but it took me the longest, most despicable route ever. With it being as hot as it is I was running out of drinking water and dehydrating and feeling super frustrated. I had taken the day off from work specifically so that I could get loads done. The journey that was supposed to have taken max.45 mins took double the time. Stuck in traffic in this heat is just not the best place to be.

Anyway, so I managed to get here in on piece, dropped all my MDF off at the 3Dresource which is now currently closed for lunch so I’m using this time to recuperate and muster up my energy for a productive afternoon at least.

DIY and needing bolts.

June 26, 2010

So I’ve decided to keep my metal ‘sculpture’ really simple. This is for several reasons, the main being that I cannot afford to ruin the cutting by trying to experiment with other shapes at this stage. It cost way too much to get a new one.

So its going to be the pattern cut sheet in a nice big curve coming outwards towards the user, attached to the blank sheet behind which also curves with the sheet but has a bit of a gap in between which is where I’m hoping the best of the light effects will work.This is in keeping with the last few prototypes that I’ve done. At the moment I have the right curve achieved with the aid of a huge plant pot (lol I know it’s random but it worked a treat).

Shaping metal sheet

Shaping the metal sheet with a huge plant pot

I’m not going to remove the protective film until right at the end of everything though, so that there’s less chance of it being scratched.

Now to get the curve right and to come out the way I want – like half a cylinder protruding from the pattern sheet, I need to secure and bolt down the points at which the curve goes from flat to curved. This is key to retaining the shape. But finding the right bolts has been a real pain. There are loads of huge bulky, cut head ones that are really long, however, what I really need is something nice and short, with a smooth head. The metal is very thin (0.7mm) so even times two it won’t need a huge bulky bolt.

I need something a bit like this:

Ludwig coach bolt from Drumshack site:

Also, as the metal is not as shiny as I wanted (it’s not mirror shine) I am contemplating using a sheet of mirror card as the back panel. I still have enough of the huge roll I bought a few months ago. It’s lovely stuff and has exactly the right reflectivity (as has been proved by my proto-typing). But I will need to stick it to something more solid in order to prevent it from flopping around. So I might use the blank sheet metal for this purpose. A bit of a waste of its original purpose but now that I have it I might as well use it. It still has the protective film on one side. So if i spray some adhesive on that side, stick straight onto the film then it should be ok.

The other alternative is to cover the mounting wall with the mirror card and then screw the metal directly into the wall over that area. But this will mean a risk in getting the mirror card to curve correctly in proportion to the pattern sheet.

I think I might need to wait until I get the sheets into the space before making the final decision on this. But the thought of it not being done is making me feel really uncomfortable. I hate not having things done.

It’s unbelievable the number of things you have to think about in installing for a space that isn’t your own to do with what you will. We’ll need to make sure all the walls are prepared, and then put them back to the same condition they were originally. This is fair enough. So I need to make sure I don’t drill too many holes. Or remember to polyfil them afterwards if I do.

There’s also my plinth to finish. I got the MDF from B&Q in the end as every time I got back from work the shop down the end of the road was already closed. However, B&Q had quite a good deal on with the MDF, about 2440mm x 1500mm for £16. I was going to get the 12mm (thickness) as that had been recommended by the 3D resource technicians. But the ones in the store were quite damaged so I went for the 18mm instead. It is heavier but I think the added weight will be to my advantage in making the plinth more stable and harder to knock over or even lift and run off with (partial fear of security there).

So with my handy diagram and calculations in hand I asked the guy at B&Q to cut up the sheet to the panel sizes I needed.They have this awesome machine that cuts the huge sheet down when you put in the exact numbers. Imagine how much time is saved with the use of technology everyday? It’s brilliant.

Cutting MDF at B&Q

Cutting MDF at B&Q

I’ve chosen to make the plinth 40cm x 45cm. So not quite a square but wider at the front and back. I’ve also measured out where I’d like the MDF pattern cut panel to go on the front. I’m aiming to have the big 10-point star right in the middle. But this will also depend on where the projector will go inside the plinth. I need it’s exact measurements to place the shelf inside in the right place. I would never have imagined how technical a plinth could get.

The pieces that will eventually be my plinth

The pieces that will eventually be my plinth

So I was planning to paint my panels with this paint I bought from B&Q too (becoming a regular there) which says you only need to use one coat, where usually you would have to apply a primer coat before the final paint.

One coat paint to use on Plinth - gloss based so hoping for a nice finish

One coat paint to use on Plinth - gloss based so hoping for a nice finish

But I realised I should actually cut the wood parts out before I paint them. So once again I need to wait for Monday which is when I can go to a local joinery store who can do some routing and cutting for me. This will save me having to drive the plinth back and forth from uni which would take an hour anyway.

I spent some time this morning marking out exactly where it would need to be cut. This includes more holes for ventilation towards the top of each of the side panels, and cutting down the shelf pieces which originally were going to fill the whole of the inside space but now I want to leave room along the back (closer to the back door panel) for the wires to have enough room.

Markings for cutting holes from MDF

Markings for cutting holes from MDF

Area to be routed from front panel

Area to be routed from front panel

The above image shows part of the rectangle that I’m planning to cut away from the front panel of the plinth to place the lasercut pattern MDF from last week.

So now it’s a matter of waiting till Monday morning which is when I’ll get the final cutting done, paint the MDF which according to the paint pot should be dry within a maximum of 2 hrs and then, get it all put together by driving all parts to uni and begging for help from the technicians.

Home-made burgers and access to metal currently denied

June 20, 2010

So I’ve been on my laptop for what feels like days. Just finished the essay. I don’t feel that happy about it. It was rushed (really bad time to have a deadline) and probably could have been written better. But the deadline is tomorrow and I have no desires to drain myself of all life before completing my MA. So it’ll just have to do.

What I really want to be doing right now is finishing my sculpture. I’m way behind schedule. It’s bugging me. And yet I cannot do anything because right now the metal is hidden behind the sofa in the living room and as it is the biggest room in the house I need to sculpt it in there. But I also need to wait for the visitors currently sitting in there to depart before I can do that. This can be classified as an external factor. Some things in life are completely out of your hands and you can’t do anything but be patient.

I even missed a family BBQ today because of the essay writing. But luckily they bought some food back for me so I don’t feel as depressed as I did a few hours ago.

From pen to paper to computer to metal

June 20, 2010

I thought I’d do this post just for fun. It’s kind of cool to see all the stages of getting a pattern from the first stage to the last – in other words it’s proof of why it took so long:

Creating the pattern:

Creating pat7 from scratch

Creating pat7 from scratch

Using the pattern to cut mirror card:

Pat7 cut into mirror card

Pat7 cut into mirror card

Using pattern to create digital version in Adobe Photoshop:

Screenshot of building up the pattern in Photoshop

Screenshot of building up the pattern in Photoshop

Importing paths into illustrator and exporting as correct files for CAD machines:

Exporting as DXF from Illustrator

Exporting as DXF from Illustrator

Black and green image of imported file from waterjet cutting company:

Single tile of pattern

Single tile of pattern

Full tiled pattern

Full tiled pattern

Final cutting:

Waterjet cut pattern in aluminium

Waterjet cut pattern in aluminium

I’ll add one last image to this when the final stage of sculpting has been completed.

Ohmydays it’s here!!

June 19, 2010

The aluminium cutting that is.

Metal cut out sandwiched between cut wood - looks good right?

Metal cut-out sandwiched between cut wood

Detail of cut metal

Detail of cut metal - unfortunately there's a slight brushed effect that I did not ask for 😦

It’s massive – which is brilliant. It was attached to a pallet and took me a while to figure out a way to get it open without resorting to using heavy machinery.

And the best thing about it is that they used two wooden pieces to stabilise the metal while it was being cut so the very helpful and kind guy (who didn’t scam me btw, Thank God!) said he’d send them with the metal as ‘they could be useful’ for my project. Hell yeh! They look like Moroccan screens, totally love them 🙂

All three pieces

Metal cut out sandwiched between cut wood

I want to do something with wooden pieces and the options are many but time is just too short, so I’ll have to save it for something post MA. My sisters have been telling me to make screens, doors, cabinets…the list goes on.

I like the effect of displacing one against the other

I like the effect of displacing one against the other. The aluminium is coverd by a protective film at the moment

So now I’m back to my major issue of not having a studio to work in 😦 I need to start looking for one I think. I’ve heard there are a few schemes around London that you have to apply for but by the time I get round to doing that I will probably miss the deadlines. The next few weeks are just going to be too busy. I feel guilty even posting on the blog at the moment with all the other stuff to take care of. Right now the essay is not even typed up  (I still enjoy writing notes in the traditional age-old, pen to paper format).

So yeh, better get back to that. I’m not sure if I will post images of the aluminium without the covering or wait till I’ve sculpted it. It might ruin the surprise.

Symposium video feedback

June 17, 2010

I’m falling behind with some of my posts – the list of drafts is getting longer. Therefore I need to start compromising on my spell and grammar checks.

Anyway so I didn’t get many comments on the video (, but admittedly it is bad timing as everyone is very busy completing their projects. I did however get some from both Rabhia and Susan (final yr online students). Oh and now Claire too (first yr part-timer).

Rabhia’s feedback was:

It’s wonderful to actually find out what the work is about, I must confess, even though I have looked at your website, the one with the images, I was a little confused with the intention of the work.

But the presentation does make your thought process clearer.

I do have a couple of questions however

1. Being of “diverse background” myself , being born and raised in sunny England.

I wonder-

Do you feel you should define your practice in terms of a connection with religion? , I.e. as a Islamic artist after why not say your just an artist?

2.It could be argued that You, Me and Hassen are all Islamic artists, but then the test would be would we chose to define ourselves as such?

And by doing so are we ineffectively pigeonholing ourselves?

For myself, I do not define my practice in terms of religion, my practice is conceptual art, and the medium depends on what suits the work.

Is possible to denote my ethnic origin of my work, I’m not sure it is, clearly my name isn’t English, without that cue, I doubt that it would be possible to guess my ethnic origin from it.

Clearly, a number of works are influenced by Islamic Art/Faith, especially the typography work, the Miniature painting, the paper sculptures and the IE interactive film, but to say one is an Islamic Artist, is to say that one’s practice sits outside contemporary art scene, after this is largely made up of middle class “white” people with posh accents, especially the ones that run all the art establishments (95%)

(A couple of percent either way) white, according to the Art Council itself.

There a paper on their website or is it the Artist newsletter, I can’t remember.

So it was mostly questions which might sound familiar to a reader of my posts. They are topics and issues I’ve raised in the past and have certainly discussed in my Unit1 essay as well as in previous posts. But it’s always good to reflect back on these things and see if the answers have changed at all. If Rabhia had asked me those questions early in Unit 1 the answers would have been quite different to what they would have been at the end of Unit1 and those have slightly altered now towards the end of Unit2. The focus is mostly on definitions and categories and those are subjects I would look into if continuing the research post MA.

This is how I responded to Rabhia’s feedback:

It’s interesting that you’ve raised much the same questions that I looked very closely at during Unit 1.

I am just an ‘artist’ as you say, but I’m also Muslim and it’s what leads a lot of my choices in the art so I’m not afraid to pigeonhole myself. (as an aside, pigeonholing would not be a problem in itself unless the motive of the artist was to appeal to only their audience and that being to aim for a wide audience, rather than satisfy their own practice. There can of course be a balance but which comes first?)

But at the same time my art is produced for two levels – the first an aesthetic level which serves as a piece for visual appreciation (requires no knowledge of background or context). The second as a communication of ideas which if the viewer chooses can be explored from many angles, not just the Islamic. But if they then found out I was a Muslim, it might lead them to realise certain things in the art which are there to be read. This is the part where they have the option to interpret it as they wish or with some conscious effort to see if something is implied.

I interviewed many artists in the previous academic year and found that they all had different motives which would determine their choice of categorisation. This is why I am really interested in continuing the research – I came across some very interesting commonalities amongst the artists who have been curated as ‘Islamic’ artists. Some are reluctant to use only this term, others produce work which is obviously Islamic (Arabic calligraphy) and so it is part and parcel with their practice. Once the ‘Islamic Art’ label is adopted then it’s almost as if that work has been separated from the rest of the contemporary art scene. This would be another very interesting aspect for further research.

And one more thing – ‘Islamic Art’ is a term widely used in the art scene but relates to the culture and region in which the religion is pre-dominant rather than a direct implication that the work is of a religious nature. This is why categorisation of art work is a bit of an issue when it comes to these types of work.

Susan’s comments were:

The 1st point I’d like to make is that i found your symposium excellent and it gave a clear outline to your project, addressing many areas of your project and drawing the thought processes together in a way that was clarifying for me.

It has made me appreciate a little better the difference in understandings and expectations surrounding Islamic art and made me think about the arising questions of possible dialogues building between different expressions of contemporary cultures.

In response to Susan’s feedback I’d say I am quite pleased she has gained something from the video. The intention was to inform the viewer of the wider context of Islamic Art and to indicate where my explorations through the project research has taken me. It’s really nice to hear that it came across clearly too 🙂

And here’s the feedback from Claire:

it was nice to watch and learn more about your project in a verbal way, having followed your blog since last year

it was nice that the video had so many images to look at, this meant that it was never slow or tedious to watch as some videos are in places

it was interesting to discover your intention for interaction, especially the fact that it is so simple but yet very effective since 3D pieces have qualities of light e.g. shadow and highlights, but to put them in the dark and shine light on them is an exciting way of utilising their 3 dimensional quality

there were some shots which looked like modern sculpture e.g. pattern fabric with kitchen utensils… they were nice but seemed an abrupt jump from the preceding traditional pattern images

however the later inclusion of Islamic paintings as opposed to patterns was quite a nice broad overview of different forms of art for the viewer

the images of cut metal are very strong, particularly those which have been folded into space as opposed to 2D

the commentary sounds in places like you are reading it, when ideally it would sound like you knew it by heart, but this also is a plus because it sounds clear and not confusing

the commentary ends strongly with statements about looking forward to the group show and future research

this backs up the way you have conducted your project, a mix of exploration and confidence about what you like, want and are trying to do

I did indeed write notes which I used to read from at points. My memory just isn’t good enough to remember everything that needs to be said. Plus all good movies have strong scripts right? lol

More MDF cut

June 16, 2010

So I finally got the MDF cut with the laser machine at college. It looks really nice, and for some reason I really like the smell of the burnt edges. It’s been a few hours and it still smells quite strong.

I also really like all the offcuts – they looked so cool when I pulled the whole main sheet away, and the shapes formed the pattern as they were still in place. I didn’t think to take a picture of them at that point and now wish I had. It would take ages to arrange them in formation again. But if I did it would make for a very interesting art piece me thinks.

Laser cutting machine

Laser cutting machine

Machine has finished cutting

Machine has finished cutting

Managed to get a shot of some pieces still in place

Managed to get a shot of some pieces still in place

The final cut mdf

The final cut MDF (3mm)

Two downsides are that firstly at this scale I can notice some inaccuracies in the pattern. Some of the shapes are wider apart than others. It slightly bugs me knowing this although I doubt the average person would notice it unless they looked really hard or if it was pointed out to them. Secondly the MDF sheet was slightly smaller than we thought so the edge of the tile was cut off.

All in all it’s still pretty impressive. I want to use it for the front of my plinth, if I can, but I’ve realised I may need to re-design the way I’m planning to make the plinth.

Originally I was going to just have solid panels to make all four sides but if I use this cut out then it needs to be attached to a strong and stable frame which has legs going all the way up the sides allowing the inside to be hollow and the holes to help ventilation of the hardware concealed inside.

Things are quite mad for me at the moment. There are a lot of family commitments coming too. And I just don’t have enough hours in the day to commit to the project as I would like.

Oh well, better just get on with it and finish that essay!

An offer has been made

June 15, 2010

Well, I emailed the person responsible. My letter hadn’t been sent to anyone. Only I had received someone else’s. Oh well. I managed to get an email version of my real one and so it is with happiness that I can say I have been offered a place to do my PhD as part of CCW (Camberwell, Chelsea and Wimbledon) Graduate School.Now I am putting that aside and not going to think about it till the MA is finished!

On another note: I was supposed to have received my aluminium today. At the back of my mind I’m worried I’ve been scammed. Just like being asked earlier today by a guy who was decently dressed and had a posh accent, if I could give him ’78p’ to buy a fare home as he’d left his oyster card behind. I thought hmm I’m going to take the chance and just be nice. Hopefully he won’t go and spend it on drugs. However, it would be a clever ruse on his part to ask for just 78p, most of the time ppl would just give him a full pound. And by dressing decent and using a posh accent ppl would be less likely to doubt his honesty (don’t ask me why but we all know it’s the truth). I then thought I should have just told him to go to a cash machine or bought the ticket for him lol then he’d be like errr… (at this point the truth would come out).

Why was that little story even relevant? Well because the guy I’ve been corresponding with for my Aluminium order has been very helpful and mentioned very specific technical aspects of the job which convinced me enough to pay for the work in advance of receiving it. We do this all the time with eBay and Amazon so it’s not such a foreign process. But when it involves a larger some of money – well then yeh it becomes a big deal. Now I’m even more paranoid! Oh noooo…