Archive for the ‘related in some way’ category

Someone has a PhD offer…

June 13, 2010

…but it’s not me. Read on, as the rest is not as predictable as you might think…

So I got home after work yesterday to find a letter from the college and I thought, hmm what could this be. I never get letters from college. Even for the interview of my PhD proposal the letter never turned up and I had to call the admin office to find out if I was supposed have heard from them by then. They emailed the letter instead as apparently it had gone missing in the post the first time around.

Anyway, so I started trying to guess what the letter was in the split seconds before I opened it. It couldn’t be a library fine or ‘return overdue books’ type, as I hardly ever use the college library (or any for that matter).  It could have been something about  the course nearly ending, some forms to fill in about finishing, and then I ran out of ideas.

So I opened the letter and I did a quick scan. The words I saw first were ‘we’re pleased to inform you…offer of a place…PhD’ and I was like Oh yeh, cool, I totally forgot that I was to have found out around this time if I had been offered a place. The funding I knew I hadn’t got but I was still supposed to find out if I was offered a normal place.

I then read the rest, ‘your area of study will be…Understanding Amateurism..’ what?! lol I was totally confused. I was like hmm maybe they adjusted the title a bit, but this much? No that can’t be right. I read on ‘your provisional supervisors will be ‘Anne something  and Dee something’. I didn’t recognise the names at all. Again they could have decided to just change my potential supervisors too. But this was a bit too much. I came to the conclusion that they had obviously made a mistake and sent me someone elses letter! How mean! I got all pleased, and now I have to wait and find out if I’ve been rejected or not. Imagine if the person who was supposed to have got this letter (even though my name address were completely correct on this one) has my letter. If that person is reading right now (the chances I know are very slim) then please let me know what it says lol.

Now I have to wait till Monday to call up the research admin office and I have a feeling they might not tell me over the phone. Annoying!

Calligraphy results

September 13, 2009

I found out the results of the short course I completed a few months ago in Naskh script – Arabic calligraphy (which I mentioned in a previous post: Arabic Calligraphy – final curtain)

I got 60 out of 100. I think that’s a pretty fair mark for the effort I put in and my hand-in for the final piece. I probably would have been disheartened if I got anything lower than that though. According to general academic grading that’s just about a B grade so I’m happy with that.

My next practical short course may be starting in a few weeks but I don’t want to elaborate till the ball is rolling so more to come on that (InshAllah).

July so far

July 22, 2009

A very busy July so far. I am knackered. And not all that time was spent on academic or creative work. Some has been on social events/occasions but some has been preliminary research for my essay. Here’s a break down of what’s been happening:

I attended an open evening (3rd July) at the British Museum for the Birkbeck World Arts and Artefacts depertment in conjunction with the Centre for Anthropology. I went mostly to meet my old Islamic art and architecture (short course) teacher, Roberta Marin, have a chat with her, get tips for my current research and to find out what other courses are on offer for next year.

Roberta advised me to take a look at current auction house catalogues, such as Sothebys and Christies, who do auctions on Islamic Art every now and then. She also mentioned a UAE glossy magazine called ‘Canvas’: http://www.canvasonline.com/ that focuses on modern and contemporary Middle Eastern Art. I’ve had a look at their web site and so far the content looks quite promising. Now I just need to get a hold of some back issues.

At the same open evening was Richard Henry who teaches the short course “The Art of Islamic Pattern I: An Introduction” with Birkbeck. He is also a practitioner of Islamic Art, especially geometric patterns and has applied his skills to different materials such as tiles, sculptures and even woodwork. Examples of his work can be seen here: http://www.richardhenry.info/ A significant thing to note is that Richard was taught by Keith Critchlow who is the author of ‘Order in Space’, ‘Islamic Pattern as a Cosmological Art’, and ‘Time Stands Still’, and is well known to many as a leading expert on sacred architecture and geometry.

I would love to take the classes in Islamic Pattern making but missed this year’s set (which I had been considering but it overlapped with the Calligraphy course I was already taking) and the next lot will not begin until April 2010 which will be a very busy time for me, as I will have to complete the major parts of my project by this time next year.

I came away from the open evening feeling that it was well worth going, firstly for being able to see Roberta again after nearly a whole year, and secondly for having the opportunity to speak to Richard.

The next day I wanted to catch the last day of the Royal Society of Science Summer Exhibition. I took my younger sister (Habibah) as I promised to spend time with her too (she gets bored very easily and likes to go out and about) and she isn’t very merciful when it comes to breaking promises made to her. So we rushed there after my Qur’an class and we made it just in time. We had about half an hour to look around as it was closing at 5pm (a little early if you ask me). We headed straight for the stands that were the brightest, interactive and that had freebies 🙂

There were demonstrations of friction defying chemicals that allowed water to repel off the surface without being absorbed (e.g paper) and there were card tricks illustrating how the human eye can be deceived when seeing shapes in different forms. And then there was the real reason I went – the ‘How Shapes fill space’ stand which was all about symmetrical structures, shapes, penrose tiling (patterns that never repeat even though they look like they might) and hyperdimensions (which I mentioned in one of my very early posts on this blog and I didn’t realise how significant they were at the time).

The ‘How shapes fill space’ exhibitors site can be visited here: http://www.tilings.org.uk/shapes/. The funny thing was that Richard Henry was here too. His explanation on 4th (and consequently higher) dimensions certainly helped me grasp a better understanding of the concept of hyperdimensions. There were a scattering of 3d models that looked like something from a meccano set and also a 3d animated shape that could be moved virtually 360 degrees to see all corners, and sides.

This stand was one of the better ones. There were also small sets of tiles for kids to play with and they were encouraged to try their hand at putting together pieces like a puzzle. Habibah certainly enjoyed it:

How shapes fill space - at the Royal Society of Science Exhibition

How shapes fill space - at the Royal Society of Science Exhibition

Practical examples of penrose tiling

Practical examples of penrose tiling

In our last few minutes, when staff members started booting people politely but firmly out, we managed to get in to the last showing of a 3D movie about the universe expanding. We learnt that seeing into the furthest regions of the universe is like looking back in time because even though light travels soo fast, the distance is so far that we’re seeing stars that have already died. It also discussed the Big Bang Theory (something that is interesting but also seen from a different light for me because of the conflicts with religion – but thats a discussion for another blog). The graphics were very good and we enjoyed this.

The people behind each stand were mostly well informed and were of academic and institutional backgrounds and many well known universities from around London were also present.

We filled in a survey – I had a couple of points to make about the opening hours – and decided to go for a bit of a walk as it was such a lovely day. Right outside was an ice-cream van so we had to indulge. We then took a walk towards the Queen’s guard’s barracks or some such thing near Pall Mall. It was a great view with old traditional English architecture gracing the skyline with the very modern looking London Eye looming behind. Here’s one of the photos I took with my mobile (I like how the gradient came out):

Heart of London - eye et al

Heart of London - eye et al

There have also been a couple of social events such as my very good friend’s hen-do and wedding, and then a family friend’s wedding, and new born babies to visit and re-unions with old family friends, and then last but by far not the least – the private view of the MA Visual Arts Degree Show at Camberwell!

I almost forgot about this amongst all the craziness. Simon kindly reminded me and so I ventured over after work (tired as I was) and was glad I went. Nearly half the people on my bus got off at the same stop as me and looked like they were heading the same way. I rushed off ahead not wanting to get caught behind slower walkers 😉

The presentation of work was great. Having seen the space and the prep needed beforehand made it even more remarkable to see the finished product. Students also made the effort to dress up which gave a professional look to the event as a whole. And we got the chance to mingle with fellow students we hadn’t had the time or the chance to speak to before. I even discovered rooms on the upper floors that I never knew existed!

The work was of a great quality and I was impressed with the outcomes of a lot of the projects – including from students of other pathways such as Graphic Design, Drawing, Book Arts and Illustration.

Here are a few photos I took of the show (on quieter days):

Poster seen on entering basement - with a map of artists space

Poster seen on entering basement - with a map of artists space

Susana Anagua's Ir(reversible Systems)

Susana Anagua's Ir(reversible Systems)

The projected video can be seen on Susana’s blog with more images too: http://anagua.wordpress.com/

Wei Wen's - Chinese Calligraphy piece

Wei Wen's - Chinese Calligraphy piece

The video that was projected on to the open book above can be viewed on Wei’s blog here: http://zulovelife.wordpress.com/

Kenji Ko's 040908/040909

Kenji Ko's 040908/040909

See and read up on the background of Kenji’s project here: http://kenjiko.wordpress.com/

Simon Ball's - On Getting Lost in the City

Simon Ball's - On Getting Lost in the City

Simon Ball's - On Getting Lost in the City (head on view of wall)

Simon Ball's - On Getting Lost in the City (head on view of wall)

More can be seen and read of Simon’s piece on his blog: http://simonthebold.wordpress.com/

Have a seat. Zai Tang's Sonorous City

Have a seat. Zai Tang's Sonorous City

Isaac seated and all ears whilst experiencing Zai Tang's Sonorous City

Isaac seated and all ears whilst experiencing Zai Tang's Sonorous City

Read and see more on Zai’s blog: http://zaitang.wordpress.com/

The rest of my images came out really blurry so you’ll have to visit the MA Digital Arts web site to see more student work: http://mada2009.madigitalarts.co.uk/

The next two days I was down for the AM shift of invigilating. The time flew fast and I got to know Ayhan Oensal (http://log.oensal.net/), an online student who was exhibiting in the show and also invigilating. His work is about raising awareness of HIV/Aids and is done so through a short video which has a narrative open for interpretation.

I will miss the students that have now finished the course. They were a great lot to be amongst with good knowledge of their various fields of expertise/practise. The added varying senses of humour and the general good company they provided resulting in the year passing very fast was a very positive aspect of being at Camberwell. I hope the next academic year goes just as well or even better!

Building blocks

April 30, 2009

This building for the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, Qatar, was apparently inspired by the famous mosque of Ibn Tulun in Cairo, Egypt.

It’s a lovely modern design with distinctive shapes forming the overall structure (like the kind of blocks that kids play with) and its location surrounded by water allows it to stand out clearly in the landscape.

Museum of Islamic Art - Doha, Qatar

Museum of Islamic Art - Doha, Qatar - Image from Qatar Museums Authority

Ibn Tulun mosque - Cairo, Egypt. Image from www.wahyuinqatar.wordpress.com

Ibn Tulun mosque - Cairo, Egypt. Image from http://www.wahyuinqatar.wordpress.com

Looking at the images on their website, it is actually quite easy to see the evolution from the old design of the  Ibn Tulun mosque to this new design and yet the old still looks as grand as the new. And even though thisn ew building is not a mosque it does share some of the architectural features that are prevalent in most. For example the bridge that links the building to the land has a central oblong of greenery which is reminiscint of the water ways that lead up to many of the worlds famous mosques including the Alhambra and also the Taj Mahal.

Alhambra, Spain - Image from Wikpedia

Alhambra, Spain - Image from Wikpedia

Not to mention those mosques that are surrounded by water or lie on river banks such as this one in Putrajaya, Kuala Lumpur (below).

Mosque in Putrajaya, Kuala Lumpur

Mosque in Putrajaya, Kuala Lumpur - Image from http://www.stuckincustoms.com

Btw I think that’s some remarkable photography!

And here’s one more:

Mosque on water - Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Image from Wikimedia

Mosque on water - Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Image from Wikimedia

Looking back at the museum, there are also the two towers at the back which look very much like Minarets – the towers from which the calls to prayer are usually announced from Mosques. There are the windows and entrance ways which are mostly arched.

This deliberate choice of features forms a strong link to the history of Arab architecture, for the most part because Islamic and Arab architecture is basically known as the same thing and this didn’t really make a mark in history until the first Mosques were built.

A museum such as this will therefore need to reflect the movement of architectural styles through time and yet convey the origins from which is arises. By using the look of a mosque the building is given a higher status too as an important place for gatherings.

Luckily most public buildings in Muslim countries are built with prayer facilities so anyone who is mistakenly drawn to the building for this purpose will hopefully not be too disappointed.

You can see and read more about the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha here: http://www.mia.org.qa/english/index.html#about/build

And for those interested in seeing photos of 100 beautiful mosques from around the world here you go: http://muslimworker.com/2009/03/100-beautiful-mosque-pictures-around-world/

Bad timing

February 19, 2009

Well this is a quick update about how my prototype is going so far. I have loads of pictures that I wanted to upload about the process of the making, but I feel so drained these days I can’t be bothered.

The wiring, soldering, cutting, neatening, arranging is just so time consuming! I’ve used up all my wire and have had to order some more. I’ve also had to order the batteries from abroad as they are cheaper and also some switches which I have a feeling are too big but I can’t find smaller ones anywhere. These will take a while to get here.

To make matters a little worse is the fact that I will be going on holiday tomorrow and well, I was hoping to have at least got part of the prototype working by then. Although I am disappointed by this, I feel like I really need the holiday, not just because of the increase of work in making this prototype but also because of recent overworking at the office and also taking on extra classes.

I felt this more than anything today as I decided to go check out the ‘Unveiled’ exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery. I will be writing a full report on this in a couple weeks as it will be a long one and I need to upload and organise the photos I took. I spent around an hour and a half walking around looking closely at the pieces, deciding if I liked them and if not/so then why and taking decent photos of almost everything. I felt so tired but carried on anyway knowing I probably wouldn’t get the opportunity to do this again for a while. Anyway, I got home and flipped through the brochure (for which I had to pay £1.50!) and realised I missed the work on the whole of the lower ground floor. Was not well pleased at this point.

Anyway so the weather here isn’t exactly the best and I so yearn for a bit of sunshine and warmth. I know it’s not cost effective because my purse strings aren’t holding much within but I deserve a treat right?

Muscat should be very scenic from what I’ve seen and heard so far. I am planning to take my camera along and snap away to my hearts content. I’m also hoping to get some shopping done and scout out some local art galleries and check out the local mosques, for not only spiritual but aesthetic pleasure.

There’s also a stopover in Dubai but as I’ve been twice before it serves more of a practical purpose (visiting family friends and bargain hunting) rather than the usual holidaying.

I will therefore not be posting anything for at least a week but shall give a full update when I get back Inshallah (God willing).

Hidden Geometry

January 28, 2009

I attended my second class of Arabic Calligraphy using Naskh Script yesterday. I signed up for these evening classes many months ago and have been looking forward to this opportunity for well over a year. The class is run by Mustafa Jafar, author of Arabic Calligraphy: Naskh style for beginners (Paperback):

Image taken from http://www.amazon.co.uk

Mustafa is himself an artist and examples of his work can be seen at http://arabigraphy.com

'Light upon Light' by Mustafa Jafar

'Light upon Light' by Mustafa Jafar

Anyway so in yesterday’s class we learnt to draw the first half of the Arabic letters using a traditional reed pen (looks a bit like bamboo but cut to a sharp nib on one end) and ink.

This interest in Arabic calligraphy was a personal one as well as a relevant one in terms of my project.

I will post a more detailed entry when I have gathered more informative details about the history and development of Arabic calligraphy. However in brief  I have these notes:

From its simple and primitive early examples of the 5th and 6th century A.D., the Arabic alphabet developed rapidly after the rise of Islam in the 7th century into a beautiful form of art.
http://www.sakkal.com/ArtArabicCalligraphy.html

– Arabic as a written language was used by few.

– Those who did use it were professional scribes and usually worked to produce important documents for legal and state offices.

– When the Qur’an was revealed and after the death of the Prophet Muhammad (may the peace and blessings of God be upon him ) to whom it was revealed, it became necessary to record the revelations. These were written and illuminated (decorated with intricate borders etc) to emphasise the beauty of the word of God.

– It is also important to note that the Qur’an never was and never is illustrated with imagery portraying humans or animals. This is because there are strict rules about the idea of recreating/reproducing the creation of God who is the only One who can create such things. It is also in order to prevent idolatry – which people can easily fall into if they are not careful. The biggest sin in Islam is Shirk which is to obey/worship/sacrifice for anyone or instead of God.

– Arabic as a written form became  standardised some time after the early centuries of Islam’s expansion and dominance.  One form was used for secular writings (the cursive script) and the other for sacred documents such as the Qur’an.

– The style of calligraphy used for the Qur’an also developed but always to a very high standard. It was imperative that the person copying the words got them 100% right and therefore they would train for many yrs under the masters of the pen before starting their own copies. There was no room for error. The Qur’an has remained unchanged since the day it was first recorded.

The significance of calligraphy? As it is used in so many forms of Islamic art and decoration and truly does look beautiful. It plays a large part in my project research. It is significant not only because of the words within the writing (usually excerpts or verses from the Qur’an) but also because of the visual effect they produce. So even if you didn’t know the words or know that it was a verse to be read and understood you could still appreciate the aesthetics of the calligraphy.

The words themselves being the words from God mean that not only do they carry an important message for mankind but they deserve to be elevated.

——————-

In the class today with Mustafa Jafar, we learnt about the proportions of the letters. These proportions govern the size of the letters in accordance to each other and although not apparent to the viewer they produce the accuracy that leads to the perfection of the overall piece of writing. Whilst demonstrating the use of the dots within the alphabet as measurements for the letters, Mustafa used the phrase ‘hidden geometry’. A light bulb turned on in my head. I already knew about the proportions and accuracy required to make the calligraphy what it is, but I never connected it with geometry before. I wonder why? I guess I wasn’t thinking outside the box. It’s not just about lines and shapes the way I know them.

You will see in the image below that the height, width and empty space produced within and around the letters are all in proportion according to the dots. So no matter what size dots you start with you should have a certain number of dots making up the length and a certain number making up the breadth for each one:

This image is taken from: http://www.sakkal.com/ArtArabicCalligraphy.html where you can also find much better explanations about the history and development of Arabic in its written form.

Therefore the use of geometry comes about using this dot as a unit for measurement and it producing a proportionally accurate letter, leading to a proportionally accurate piece of writing.

Mustafa insists that Calligraphy is a form of art, not writing. I very much agree, except where it comes to the Qur’an. In the Qur’an it is both and more.

Group Crit

January 16, 2009

We had to participate in a group crit yesterday where each of the 6 full-time students were required to read out a 500 word review of their projects and show some examples of their work so far. They were then told to listen with no participation from themselves (which some found more difficult than others!) while the rest of us discussed their work.

This was funny for obvious reasons but highly interesting and useful for the individual whose work was being discussed.

Being a part-time student I don’t have to do the same for a few more weeks, but even in this session I could gain some ideas and tips on what to be aware of in my own work.

The biggest issue that came to light for me was that people will always perceive your work differently and they may see a similar or completely different communication to someone else through the work. The aim for me in creating my work would be to try and make the message or topic as universally understood as possible. There will still be some who see something else to the rest but if the majority get it somewhat right then you must be on the right track. Right?