Archive for the ‘Research areas’ category

A new phase

October 24, 2013

It’s been great to see the amount of visitors that have browsed on this site and the supporting comments I have received.

For those who have been following this blog for a while I wanted to provide an update. I am now embarking on further research at the University of Kent! It’s going to be a challenge, that is for sure, but the interesting subjects I’ll be covering will hopefully drive me to complete the study with success InshaAllah (God willing).

If anyone is interested to see the areas I look into, the artists I discover, and the artworks I discuss in relation to my research, then please do visit my new blog:

It’s still early days but hopefully there’ll be some interesting and meaty content coming very soon. Keep your eyes open! And if you come across anything you feel is worth mentioning then please do get in touch via my contact page:


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.

DXF formats and floor plans

May 20, 2010

Boring title I know but it’s late and I can’t think of anything better. Anyway…

I feel a little restless when I’m at work where I suddenly remember something that needs to be done for the project or I think of an idea that could help solve a certain issue with the practical work but I’m unable to do anything till I get home in the evening, by which time I’m usually too knackered or think of something else that also needs to be done. It is the first time since starting the course that I’ve really felt the disadvantage to being part-time.

Progress with materials: I was originally going to get some aluminium laser cut but that was going to be quite expensive. Then a very kind professional sculptor (Sahand Hesamiyan) advised me on the possibilities of having it water-jet cut instead. So far this appears a better and possibly cheaper option and without the potential to leave burnt edges where the shapes have been cut out.

I’ve prepared the pattern file in Illustrator, converted it to DXF (which is a CAD file) and have sent it off to find out how long the machine will take to cut the pattern which is where the cost starts to mount up. As it’s quite intricate compared to the kind of things they usually cut (like mechanical parts) the cost will probably be quite high (relatively speaking). But I’m hoping that even then it comes in at a reasonable price, compared to the laser cutting option. Will give an update once I find out.


The full-timers on the course have speedily got into the organisers mode and got the cogs turning in terms of getting the show sorted. Not one to sit back and do nothing, I’ve contributed some time in measuring our exhibition spaces and drawing up the floor plans. These were sent to the group, and are especially important to the on-liners who are unable to come down (some being abroad) and who will need to have an idea of what the physical space will look like.

Floor plan for room which will be well lit and generally light

Floor plan of dark space (will be kept in darkness with only selective lighted areas)

It really makes me think about all that is involved for solo as well as group shows and this process makes you think about things from a different perspective. I’m totally more in tune with the importance of exhibition spaces being suitable and in a way I now have more refined ideas of what would be perfect and what isn’t but would do anyway. And also how to make the most of what you have. Now, what I’m actually hinting at is the fact that the space our group has been allotted in the MA show isn’t really as big as it should be (simply because we’re having to accommodate the space rather than accommodate our work. But compare this to how much space the other larger groups have to share and, well, we’re not as bad off.

Plus, if I get the sculpture looking good for this then I may have a better chance of getting this and bigger work shown at a local gallery.

Research Proposal

May 15, 2010

Here is the main bulk of my research proposal for PhD study:

Title: An investigation of contemporary Islamic art practice in Britain and the role of the artist in shaping this art scene

Subject area

The purpose of this research is to highlight current activity in contemporary British Islamic Art and to look closely at the artists who enable its development.

As this particular type of art is not considered ‘mainstream’ it is categorised in a very different manner to other art scenes which affects both perceptions of the art and the choices made by the artists producing it.

There is a strong need to understand how definitions, categorisations and identification of this art is established and used for curatorial purposes as well as artistic development. In the past these issues have been researched and addressed through historical comparisons which do not accommodate the adoption of contemporary practices nor the influences and impacts of new technologies.


Explore the relationship between artists of Islamic art and artists of Islamic faith. What distinguishes one from the other?

Investigate the extent to which contemporary artistic practices are embraced within the Islamic art scene. Look at uses of new technology in contemporary Islamic Art practice.


Clarify definitions of ‘Islamic art’ and more specifically those of ‘contemporary Islamic art’. This will involve understanding how the terms used in these definitions play a role in constructing the categories themselves.

Investigate the role of the artist and that of the curator in presenting the British public with what it terms ‘contemporary Islamic art’. Is this representative of British Islamic culture?

Explore the use of contemporary art practice within British Islamic art. Where do the boundaries merge in regards to traditional and contemporary practice?

Investigate and document the benefits and deterrents to adopting digital practices within contemporary Islamic art. Have digital and new media technologies been utilised in contemporary Islamic art to date?

Design and create an installation that fulfils the notion of contemporary Islamic art using digital practice. Determine the social and historical implications of this kind of work.

Historical and contemporary context

Contemporary Islamic art in Britain is still relatively new. This is largely due to the merging of many cultures which have combined to create the Muslim community in Britain since the influx of Eastern migrants in the early 20th century.

Recognition of this rising community which now forms a large proportion of the British population has also had lasting effects on the art produced from and for the Muslim community.

The nature of this ‘community’ involves cultures from across the globe. The faith of Islam being the common ground, and the faith’s encouragement of multi-culturalism means that the British Islamic Art scene could be making significant contributions to the global Islamic Art scene.

Theoretical context

Tracing developments of Islamic art in Britain from the early 20th century to the present (through reviews, articles and discussions by critics, artists and curators) will form the essence of the research material. This will lead to a better understanding of how British Islamic culture has been represented in Britain thus far.

By looking closely at British Islamic artists we can address questions of whether it is possible to be an Islamic ‘artist of faith’, whilst fulfilling the requirements that exist in both aspects of this title. In addition we can determine ways in which the British Islamic culture affects the output of a British Islamic artist and whether current forms of artistic practice provide a close reflection of the British Islamic culture at present.

Not so quick update

April 26, 2010

As I imagined things are becoming quite manic now. There are deadlines and things to remember all over the place. But, alas, this is the way of anything that has a specific pressured end such as the project.

Now I have a couple of books I’d like to mention which I was supposed to have done some time ago. Actually one of them I might have already mentioned…but I’m not sure so I’ll mention it anyway (you know, just in case).

The first is ‘Polyhedron Models’ by Magnus J Wenninger. It  contains some very striking,  but kinda complicated models of…yep you guessed it – polyhedrons. For those who don’t know what these are have a look at some of the images below. They look a little similar to the model I made a while back (Icosahedron).

A polyhedron (plural polyhedra or polyhedrons) is a geometric solid in three dimensions with flat faces and straight edges.


Page 21 from M J Wenninger's Polyedron Models

Page 21 from M J Wenninger's Polyedron Models

Polyhedron Models illustrates how the shapes look when flat and then once constructed to their full 3D form. However, I think most of these are beyond my capability to attempt (at the moment at least) but there are some simple ones at the beginning of the book and seem less scary as the associated mathematical formulas aren’t so daunting either. Not to mention some of the names. And you’ve just got to love some of the names – e.g. Quasirhombicuboctahedron which looks something like this:


Quasirhombicuboctahedron - from pg 132 of M J Wenninger's Polyheron Models

And the rhombitruncatedicosidodecahedron:


Rhombitruncatedicosidodecahedron - from pg 30 of M J Wenninger's Polyhedron Models

I did a search on the author and found some fascinating imagea of his coloured paper creations:

3D models of 4D polytopes

3D models of 4D polytopes - by Magnus J Wenninger

Polyhedron from set number 5 - by Magnus J Wenninger

Polyhedron from set number 5 - by Magnus J Wenninger. This one would probably look brilliant if carved from stone, although I can't imagine how it could be done.

Oh and it says on this site that he is a monk. I wonder how much that has played into or influenced his interest in this kind of geometry. Have a look at his web site for more stunning photographs and more on his writing too.

On to the second book. This one is ‘Geometric Concepts in Islamic Art’ by Issam El-Said and Ayșe Parman. Now I heard about this book some time ago but kinda forgot about it then realised it wasn’t newly available and then recently decided to just get a second-hand copy via the net. But it’s totally worth it. If I had this book maybe a yr and a half ago I think I might have done a lot more pattern work. It was Richard Henry (teacher for the pattern-making workshop) who recommended this book to me not so long ago and I can see that it is an immensely useful, practical and encouragingly inspiring one to have. Yes a lot of superlatives but they were all intentional.

Now Issam El-Said died at the age of 50 in 1988 before he was able to finish his PhD. But in the time that he was practising his art and already doing much research into the area of geometry he managed to create some beautiful pieces and publish very informative and educational writing. His work (both academic and artistic) is still valued today and this book is only one example.

Geometric Concepts in Islamic Art by Issam El-Said and Ayșe Parman

Geometric Concepts in Islamic Art by Issam El-Said and Ayșe Parman

Hardback cover of Geometric Concepts in Islamic Art

Hardback cover of Geometric Concepts in Islamic Art by Issam El-Said and Ayșe Parman

The cover itself (hardback version) has gold calligraphy on the front (under the paper cover) which is a nice touch. And then inside there are photographs of geometric patterns from real architectural sources around the world. Besides these photos are diagrams of how those patterns have been constructed. Like really simple ways to construct them!

Geometric Concepts in Islamic Art - pg 47

Page 47 from Geometric concepts in Islamic Art

Geometric Concepts in Islamic Art pg 91

Page 91 from Geometric Concepts in Islamic Art

I’ve realised that with some patterns there are a couple of ways to approach them, one being to create the foundation grid and build that up with a few layers of sub grids. This is mostly useful for when the grids might be used in multiple ways to create a pattern of maybe semi-regular tiling rather than just regular tiling. Well that’s the impression I got anyway. But the construction diagrams in this book cut a lot of the process out and show you how to get  to the final main pattern in the quickest way possible.

Unfortunately, I won’t have much time before the end of the project to try out more of these patterns.

Back to El-Said – here’s a link to web site ( in which you can read up about his history and achievements as well as find examples of his art work. Here’s one of my favourites (note the combination of Arabic calligraphy and geometry):

Allah, Mohammed (Hexagon) detail Limited edition etching 30x30cm by Issam El-Said

Allah, Mohammed (Hexagon) detail Limited edition etching 30x30cm by Issam El-Said. Image from:

Change of topic now. I’d like to mention the plug my work got on the Eastern Soul blog: It’s nice to have your work appreciated 🙂

The Eastern Soul blog has been created in order to showcase artists and individuals involved in the creative arts who have added a bit of their own Eastern touch. There should be some interesting features on the blog in the coming months…

And finally on to my project developments. These aren’t going as fast as I’l like them to be. I’ve finished the pattern I was working on recently – it looks quite nice on paper and I’m about to move onto making a mirror card prototype of a sculpture using it (God willing). Here’s an image illustrating the stages of creating it:

various stages of creating 12 point star pattern using Daud Sutton's Islamic Design.

Various stages of creating a 12 point star pattern using an example from Daud Sutton's 'Islamic Design'.

I’m now trying to digitise this pattern but have faced a few errors and need to think of an alternative approach to my current one. However, I’ve been mucking about with what I have so far and for those of you who like a bit of colour:

Pat7_Splash courtesy of Sara Choudhrey :)


And finally, we have the date for our symposium (in which all students have to do a 5 min presentation of their project) which is to be on May 5th.

The areas we have been told to cover include:

– Project overview
– Key developments during your time on the course
– Key contextual discoveries
– Post MA developments

I feel comfortable with the topics in general although the 3rd one might be a bit lengthy. We’ll need to include imagery and can either present in person or through a video/podcast. Unfortunately, I will be away the week it is due so will have less time to prepare it the way I would like to. I may have to stick to a good old powerpoint presentation – eww. Maybe I’ll try something in Flash. We’ll see.

Kinetica Art Fair 2010

February 15, 2010

If anyone went to the Kinetica Art Fair last week, I’m sure they would have been as excited as I was. One thing to note for next time – don’t stand still for too long as something will either wheel itself into you or will prod you in the back. Things were moving of their own accord (from all appearances). There were mobile-like metal structures that expanded (one of which nearly knocked me out) and there were glass and metal balls chasing each other or sticking to objects using magnets.

Most of the work required knowledge of electronics, engineering and many other hands-on crafting and technical skills to create.

Here are a few photos I took on the day (on my mobile so quality isn’t that great):

Kinetic sculpture by Hans Kooi

Kinetic sculpture by Hans Kooi

Kinetic sculptures by Hans Kooi

Kinetic sculptures by Hans Kooi

These sculptures looked amazing. Thin wire was used along with magnets both repelling and attracting pieces. This allowed for the work to look like it was floating in mid-air and also kept in place by invisible forces. It must have taken a lot of time and effort to get these as accurately placed as they were. For much better images and more of Hans Kooi’s kinetic sculptures have a look at his site:

Further sculptural work was exhibited by Davide Angheleddu who uses the laser sintering of nylon powder to create these beautiful sculptures of components from marine plankton:

Sculptures by Davide Angheleddu including Iris (the larger of the two)

Sculptures by Davide Angheleddu including Iris (the larger of the two)

Sculptures by Davide Angheleddu including Screw (far right)

Sculptures by Davide Angheleddu including Screw (far right)

For more images and information on Angheleddu’s work see his site:

An inspiring piece for me personally was the Moiresphere by Dianne Harris (founding director, and curator of Kinetica Museum). I tried to take photos that illustrated the construction of this piece and it actually looks more complicated in the images. There was a spinning object in the centre surrounded by mirrors on all sides including triangular shaped ones to fill the corners of the box in which it all sat. This created the illusion that there were many spinning parts and at some angles made it look like many more were to be found in hidden crevices.

Moiresphere by Dianne Harris

Looking in to the Moiresphere by Dianne Harris 2010

Moiresphere by Dianne Harris

Moiresphere by Dianne Harris

This reminded me of some of the other art works I have come across in the past that utilise the reflected kaleidoscope effect. It works every time and makes for a curiosity the audience is eager to explore and understand. I am hoping to get this kind of effect from my own work.

Another example of engaging the audience was apparent in many of the pieces where the visitor was encouraged and actually compelled to create the events. In the Hydro-Acoustic Big Bang Filter (below) you had to place your hand over a sensor in order to get the water in the tubes to rise and to create the sound. Here’s a quick explanation from their own site:

“The sound used in the installation is an audio manifestation of the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB),widely believed by cosmologists and astrophysicists to be residual radiation from the Big Bang itself, some 14 Billion years ago.” (Excerpt from

The Hydro-Acoustic Big Bang Filter by Interactive-Agents, Robin McGinley

The Hydro-Acoustic Big Bang Filter by Interactive-Agents, Robin McGinley

Another piece which has been photographed and used a lot for the show catalogue as well as on the web site is the Homos Luminosos by Rosaline de Thelin. This was created using many fibre-optic wires which were scratched in order to have the light catch at different points within the wire. These were then placed together to create the outline of a human figure. Her work is made up of three of these figures hung to look like supernatural spirits floating just above the ground.

Homos Luminosos by Rosaline de Thelin

Homos Luminosos by Rosaline de Thelin

There were also some very simple constructions tht were very eye-catching. Liquid Athletes was designed and created by Nimra Javaid along with a group of students from Thames Valley University.

Liquid Athletes by Nimra Javaid

Liquid Athletes by Nimra Javaid

It was created using overhead projectors (the kind we used to have at school before the latest ones were installed), coloured plastic, and some tubing to allow for the water to be dropped into bowls in time to a human heart rate.

A really cool thing about the Kinetica Art Fair was that the artists were mostly around, either keeping people interacting with their work, demonstrating it, or just ready to answer any questions. One of these friendly artists was Hugh Turvey who was very willing to speak about his work, future project plans and eager for feedback too.

Various pieces by Hugh Turvey

Various pieces by Hugh Turvey

More photography by Hugh Turvey

More photography by Hugh Turvey

The added touch of colour to Turvey’s X-ray photography provides the element of heat or energy inside the objects indicating either movement and growth. It works well in plants, human body parts as well as mechanical objects like the motorbike which can be viewed on his site:

My final image is of Waves by Paul Friedlander. He’s widely known for his work producing Kinetic light sculptures created with a knowledge of physics. I’m not going to even attempt to summarise this so please have a look at his site where you can find a wealth of information and examples of his work:

Waves by Paul Friedlander

Waves by Paul Friedlander

The above image came out quite nicely but will never do justice to the live movement of the waves which you’ll have to try and see for yourself at one of his next events. The colours are beautiful and set against the dark background with minimal lighting really help them to stand out. They looked almost like spinning ropes twining around each other but never becoming tangled. ‘Mesmerizing’ would be the best word to describe it.

I came out of the fair with a real buzz 🙂

Material matter

December 15, 2009

Here is some very interesting, beautiful and inspiring work from various artists around the world. You’ll notice their work is very hands on and they utilise materials which require skills of labour not just thought and planning.

Firstly, this link was sent to me by Isaac (fellow student from MA:  The following images are just a few of the pieces created by Cal Lane who I believe is still based out in Putnam Valley, New York, United States.

Shovels by Cal Lane

Patterns plasma-cut into steel shovels by Cal Lane. Image taken from

Wheelbarrow by Cal Lane

Plasma-cut steel wheelbarrow (2007) by Cal Lane. Image taken from

Cal Lane

Large piece by Cal Lane. Image taken from

Although Cal has chosen industrial purpose objects, they were redundant till she took them on for her work. So oil cans and large barrels now become her medium for art. In high contrast to the very masculine and rough materials and surfaces she works with, Cal applies very feminine and elaborate patterns, cutting them out to look as if she has just embroidered lace.

The dark colours and rusty look and effect of these materials creates another aspect to her work which reminds me of henna/mehndi. This is a natural dye which when applied and left to dry leaves a dark orange stain to the skin. This is usually applied with ornate patterns to the hands and feet on special occasions in the Indian-subcontinent and Arab nations:

Traditional Indian style Henna/mehndi applied to a hand. Image taken from

To read more about Cal Lane and how she makes these amazing pieces please visit her web site where you’ll find loads more exhibition work, background info and reviews:


Colourful blasts of geometric sculptures by Jen Stark, another discovery but this time from browsing through google images. The below are just a few sample of her vast work which also includes a couple of animations and drawings.

Spectral Zenith by Jen Stark. Image taken from

I’m not sure I need to spend much time explaining why I like them so much. But I must mention that they are made using paper. Yes, I know, they are cool simply based on the fact that they are hand and crafted to create and produce extraordinary shapes and designs.

The use of colour is great and something I feel I cannot dwell on too much for my own work just yet. But perhaps for a future project I will be gladly looking to her work for inspiration on colour coordination.

Radial Reverie by Jen Stark

Transfixed by Jen Stark

Eureka by Jen Stark

Eureka by Jen Stark - a monochromatic piece

I cannot recommend enough that you should have a look through Jen’s site at ALL her work not just some of it. You will be amazed:


And finally – I accidently came across Sahand Hesamiyan‘s work whilst browsing through some Iran based art sites.

My favourite pieces of Sahand’s are the ones I’ve chosen to display below. This is because they have been created with an underlying structure of geometric shapes that when contemplated further can be identified as those that appear in traditional Islamic patterns.

Untitled, composite and brass (2007) by Sahand Hesamiyan. Image taken from

Shams Ι (Sun Ι), Black Oxidised steel (2007) by Sahand Hesamiyan. Image taken from

Eastern Sun, composite and Aluminium (2007) by Sahand Hesamiyan. Image taken from

I got in touch with Sahand and he has very kindly replied to my enquiries about his work methodology. I sent him a few interview type questions and he directed me to this statement which he did as part of the Magic of Persia – Contemporary Art Prize 2009 of which he was a finalist:

He mentions some great points about why he has chosen to focus on a sculptural presentation of these shapes which are familiar and close to the people of Iran where he is from. Here is a point he makes which I think is very significant:

The aim is to understand geometry as sculpture, which in traditional arts have always been trapped on the surface and didn’t have the possibility of presentation in the shape of independent sculpture.

I feel as if I can really relate to his aims as we both make use of shapes and forms which are closely connected to traditional Islamic patterns and yet we present them in work which is unusual for the Islamic Art scene.  I hope I do achieve my goals as well as or close to how Sahand Hesamiyan has. I find his work very inspiring and it’s great to see that he has considered the historical relevance of his work from a cultural perspective.

Have a look through more of Sahand’s work on his web site where you’ll find a range of installation and sculptural pieces and some interesting photos of how he constructs his larger pieces: