Posted tagged ‘Islamic art’

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: www.islamicdigitalarts.com

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: www.islamicdigitalarts.com/contact/

Thanks!

Update – nearing the end

July 12, 2010

So the MA degree (end of yr) show opens this week, which houses all the pathways including ourselves – Digital Arts. Our work was assessed last week and the external examiner was in today asking us about our experience of the course.

Now its all about those final tweaks for the private view tomorrow and the general opening until Saturday. We’ve all signed up for shifts of invigilating and I’ve used up some more of my holidays from work for this. And it leaves me with very little annual leave left for the rest of the yr. That’s a big shame but it was necessary. And then we have our results coming out on the 20th! It’s quite soon compared to how long students usually have to wait for their undergrad results or for A-levels or GCSE results. But even then I would rather know now than in a week and half’s time.

I’m also trying to mentally prepare myself for all sorts of outcomes. For example I am contemplating where my threshold for satisfaction in achievement is so that I can determine what marks I would need to achieve in order to be happy with my grade. But at the same time I don’t want to think about it at all in case I don’t get it and then feel really sad. Hmm but then again is it the marks that I should be happy about or the body of work? The work was definitely an achievement regardless of any one else’s opinion. I went for something quite ambitious and now that I think about it, I didn’t have to go all out but I did and I’m hoping that was perceived as a very strong point rather than a foolish or over-ambitious one. Only time will tell!!

On the up-side, I managed to get three prints ready in time for the show opening too. These were of photos taken in Unit2 and highlight the significance of my newly developed practice. I think they are worth some focus in their own right and have received a lot of positive feedback. Having taken that on board and with there being some spare wall space in the lighter room of the show I thought, why not?

Mounted A2 prints of photographs taken during project development

From left to right: Electric, Wave and Citylight all photographs taken during Unit2 development

The one on the far left is actually one I took last week – you might recognise it being similar to that in the previous post. I’m now very strongly contemplating ways in which to customise my Processing and OpenCV code in order to achieve coloured feed to project in order to create results similar to the images above. I think I might spend a couple of months after the MA just trying to improve the manipulation of lighting and adding in the element of colour. Simply by projecting my desktop screen  has created interesting reflections and shadows so it’s worth looking into for even better results.

Well I’d better be off – tomorrow is an early start. I’m now aiming to just look forward to the Private view where good friends and practitioners who I’ve come to know through the project will make for good company.

Oh so busy

November 29, 2009

Unit 1 assessment is due on December 8th. I’ve started a draft for the curation page for this. So far it’s going ok. There’s a lot that needs to be said but I can’t make it too lengthy so need to word things wisely and use the space efficiently with only those posts linked in it that will best illustrate my progress and developments.

Oh and it’s Eid – so obviously I am planning to take it easy for a couple of days.

I am currently in the middle of making the larger Icosahedron. I’ve had to rack my brain about what pattern will work the best and in the end after spending ages over-complicating things for myself I decided to just do a very simple one for now. Then if/when this turns out ok I can concentrate on trying a more complex one.

Icosahedron prep

Using the Icosahedron template I downloaded...

I created a larger version on some really thick card. Its A2 and will hopefully hold together much better than ordinary paper or card

...I created a larger version on some very thick card. Can't remember the GSM but believe me this stuff good make a shelter. Each face (triangle) is aprox. 13 cms on each side.

On another note:

The Saturday workshops are now down to the last two sessions. We have chosen our final mediums for applying our patterns to. Adam Williamson and Lateefa Spiker (see examples of her work here: http://www.lateefaspiker.com) demonstrated the many practices we could employ for our work. Amongst these were ceramic tiles, plaster sculptures, stone carving, veneer marquetry (I think that’s what it’s called), and gilding or painting on glass. The following images were taken in the workshop and some of the work is from current or past students. I do not have their names and so cannot state what belongs to who but just be aware that it is the work of students attending the workshop and applying patterns that have been taught by both Richard Henry and Adam Williamson (you can find out more about the classes here: http://www.adamwilliamson.com/42.html)

Plaster casting

Plaster moulding and carving

Stone carving examples

More stone carving

More stone carving

Stone carving by Adam Williamson

Carving of arabesque design in stone by Adam Williamson

cutting veneer

Cutting veneer using templates

Veneer marquetry

Veneer marquetry

Tile making

Tile making and a semi-glazed example

Tile making 2

More tile making

Examples of wood carving

Examples of wood carving

An icosahedron!

An Icosahedron! This one is made from MDF, the pieces cut at an angle to allow the to slot together nice and clean

Zilij tiles

Zellij tiles. I can't imagine how a beginner would achieve breaking the tiles using the chisel and hammer to 'smash/cut' the individual shapes from each piece that would then fit together to create the pattern. Very hard work.

I couldn’t decide which to go for, as there were so many options. But with only a few hours on three Saturdays, I felt as if whatever I chose I would have to rush it. So I thought let me just go for something I may not get another chance to do for a while – stone carving! lol I don’t even know if my biceps are up to it but I’m going to give it my best. So I chose the weave pattern I did a few weeks ago (see here) and so far have transferred it on to a chunk of stone. This is some lovely soft stone that is relatively easy to carve and has a smooth surface and a slightly creamy colouring. It looks really nice so I’m hoping I do a good job of it.

On top of all this I need to do some final tests with the sculptural pieces for the Unit One assessment. So far I have the reflective work but I want to create a 3D shape version to see if that will work in a similar way to the flat/curved sheets I tried a few weeks ago. I’m hoping the Icosahedron will not take too much longer as that will form the basis for my next set of shapes which will also be using reflective sheets.

I have also decided that after this assessment I will concentrate more on the lighting aspect of the installation. I haven’t looked closely enough at this area and feel there is more room for experimentation. As my current time is being occupied with creating patterns and applying these to different materials I need to set myself a deadline in order to keep that work contained and not spend too long on it. I do really enjoy this part of the work a lot though. So once I have pinpointed the lighting sources with satisfaction, and if I have time I will return to the patterns and materials to hopefully produce some interesting and perhaps more complex constructions.

I am also really intrigued with the possibilities that are emerging with combining 2D and 3D shapes. The work has potential in many subject areas so even this is making me think too much.

Anyway I’ll stop it there for now and get back to finishing that Icosahedron.

Workshop pattern

October 29, 2009

The following images show the stages gone through in order to produce the final cut-out pattern seen at the end of this post. The steps in creating this classic 8-fold rosette tiling were set by Richard Henry in the Saturday workshop.

I completed this partly in the class itself following a worksheet he provided and then finished it off at home. I’m not even quite sure if I tiled the final stages correctly but I have to admit I am quite pleased with how it turned out 🙂

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First few stages is getting the overall block shape of the Khattam down (two slightly rotated squares - one atop the other)

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Using the shapes produced within the larger tile walls we found where the octagonal shape is formed, and then the 8-fold rosette within this (dashed lines)

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At home I continued by re-producing the rosette in four other squares by tracing the orginal one to retain accuracy

Each stage was done on a new sheet of tracing paper as I like to preserve the stages. This also helps me to remember how I got from one stagee to another if I need to recreate it.

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I then created thicker edges by adding two lines on the outer and inner sides of all existing lines that form the rosette petals. This adds a thick border to allow for a weave effect

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Using another sheet of tracing paper I went over only the outer and inner lines but weaving each under and over the intersecting lines.

Detail of weaving - was a bit tricky at some points but still fun trying to figure it out

Detail of weave effect - was a bit tricky at some points but I really enjoyed figuring it out

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I photocopied the final pattern and cut it out to create a stencil. This is the photocopied cut-out against a black background

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I then used the stencil to draw and cut out a black sheet filled completely with the pattern

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And this is the final black cut-out of the full pattern repeat. Can you see the cube that is formed in the centre?

A very busy few days but worth the effort.

Reflective light projection

October 25, 2009

I wonder if the title depicts what I actually mean by it. Well images are always useful in these circumstances. I’ve been to the art shop recently and, as mentioned in a recent previous post, I decided to pursue the idea of using reflections. I found some reflective sheets of card (quite large A1 size) and had one placed on a box in my room lying flat but parallel to the wall. The light in my room was hitting off of the sheet and this was bounced/reflected on to the wall where it was casting some oddly shaped lines.

I then placed a cut-out pattern directly on to the reflective card – that was a good move. The card was slightly curved and as a result the light and pattern was also curved in its projective state on the wall.

Light reflected from card on to wall

Light reflected from card on to wall

I moved the sheet slightly higher and deepened the curve and the results changed too:

Twisted projection of pattern with reflected light

Twisted projection of pattern with reflected light

I was pleased to see how the small changes in the curves and placement of the card could create many variations of patterned shapes. This led to another few sample work ideas for installation pieces. These would probably be stand alone pieces as part of the wider range of work presented.

I then pulled some of the above photos in to Photoshop and experimented with colouring and was able to produce a hightened contrast by darkening the images and layering and rotating them. The light stands out better here and looks like a hologram or a laser display:

Digitally manipulated image from reflective light series

Digitally manipulated image from reflective light series

General Update on activities:
I have also been able to find some 3D geometric template sheets online to cut out and assemble. These are small and tricky to stick together but I managed to get them to hold for a few seconds while I took a couple of images. The really hard part will be figuring out how to apply a pattern to these shapes that has a similar underlying grid to the shapes they are made up from. For example for a dodecahedron there will need to be a construction with a pentagon tiling and for the icosahedron an equilateral triangle.

Flat template of for making a dodecahedron - printed from http://www.mathsisfun.com/geometry/dodecahedron-model.html

Flat template of for making a dodecahedron - printed from http://www.mathsisfun.com/geometry/dodecahedron-model.html

Dodecahedron

Dodecahedron

An icosahedron prior to assembly - printed from http://www.mathsisfun.com/geometry/icosahedron-model.html

An icosahedron prior to assembly - printed from http://www.mathsisfun.com/geometry/icosahedron-model.html

Icosahedron - just before it fell apart

Icosahedron - just before it fell apart

I may need to create a large-scale pattern on a large flat sheet first and then outline the template to cut out from this with correct placement and hope it sticks together right. In practice I will probably get it all wrong – still, no harm in trying.

Pattern-making workshop
I’ve joint a 10-week workshop where we are creating traditional Islamic patterns being taught by Richard Henry. He teaches with Birkbeck as well as with schools and also creates artwork himself. He was also taught by Keith Critchlow so I think we’re in good hands!

Richard’s worksheets are very easy to follow and start from basic circle formations to developing full pattern constructions. Some of the patterns are similar to those I’ve done already but Richard’s approach to constructing them seem easier and sometimes more practical. I wanted to take the class to see how things could be done perhaps with short-cuts or to make some of the stages quicker with ‘best-practice’. Many a handy tips have been passed on already. It has also affirmed some of the general things I’ve picked up about pattern-making and the things I need to be aware of (for example I thought it was just me when my compass would slightly alter itself). All in all I’m really enjoying it.

To have a look at some of Richard Henry’s work visit his web site: http://www.richardhenry.info/

Gender, War and Chadors – by Canvas magazine at the British Museum

October 20, 2009

This panel discussion on the topic of ‘Gender, War and Chadors’ in relation to Contemporary Middle Eastern Art, took place on Monday 12th October.

The panel consisted of three professionals with relevant experience and interest in this genre of art: Saleh Barakat (Curator and Gallerist, Lebanon), Rose Issa ( Independent Curator, Lebanon and Iran) and Dr Venetia Porter (Senior Curator of Islamic and contemporary Middle Eastern Art at The British Museum). This panel was moderated by Dr Anthony Downey (Programme Director, MA in Contemporary Art at Sotheby’s Institute of Art).

For official information andbackground into on the panellists please view this link from the Canvas Magazine site: http://www.canvasonline.com/gwac2.htm

The audience was an interesting mix of curators, researchers, critics and artists.

The talk lasted an hour and addressed issues that have cropped up for me during my research in the last year. Some of the issues mentioned were the lack of investments in Middle Eastern Art, it’s identity and how it is different to Islamic Art, why it is not considered as contemporary art when it should be and why it is usually grouped as ‘Middle-Eastern’ and sometimes ‘Islamic’ art when this is sometimes clearly a confining label or even a mistaken label for the work in question.

Here are a few notes I took. Some of this may be direct quotes or my own extension of what was said by one of the panellists:

– Defining the Middle-East as a region is becoming the subject being discussed rather than the work itself. It seems to be a Western pre-occupation. Whereas people within the Middle-Easter don’t think about it that much and sometimes not at all.

– There seems to be a problem with the local and regional infrastructure in the Middle-East which is causing a slow movement of work and communication. The knowledge is not travelling. Whether this is in terms of publishing work/writings or in trying to set up an exhibition – it takes much longer and much more effort compared to London and other European or US cities.

– Middle-Eastern art is not being taught anywhere as a comprehensive subject. You can learn the European classics anywhere, but there is no recognised institution where you could say straight off your head, for example for  ‘where a PhD in Middle-Eastern art’ should be completed, there certainly is nowhere to do this in the Middle-East. Dr Venetia Porter said that she is approached by many students asking where she would recommend they continue further studies in this subject. SOAS was mentioned as a good place as it covers the languages and culture studies.

Once the talk was finished I managed to grab some apple juice, munch some olives and a few minutes of Dr Venetia Porter’s time. A very nice and friendly lady, she was very encouraging about further studies in the contemporary Islamic art field. I mentioned my project for the Visual Arts MA I am doing and she was glad to hear that I had found a way to combine contemporary art practice with traditional creative methods from the Islamic world. As she had mentioned the lack of postgraduate courses that suit this area I was able to say that this is my way of dealing with that problem. As it happens I think my situation could not be more ideal. I have managed to set the objectives of my project to suit both the learning outcomes of the course syllabus as well as my own goals of producing contemporary Islamic art.

I departed with a smile on my face and the encouragement from Dr Venetia Porter spurring me on.

More patterns

October 15, 2009

I have a tendency to say too much so this time I am just going to add a load of pictures of my latest pattern-making endeavours. The images below are the initial stages of creating a pattern to be used for some of my sculptural experiments. You will see the stages I go through from start to finish.

Using my favourite book and following the instructions as layed out in Islamic Design: Genius in Geometry by Daud Sutton

Using my favourite book and following the instructions in Islamic Design: Genius in Geometry by Daud Sutton

Continuing stages as the pattern takes shape

Continuing stages as the pattern takes shape

Final stages before tiling - hand cutting parts if the pattern

Final stages before tiling - hand cutting parts if the pattern

Using the new cut-out to trace a repeated/tiling pattern on to large black sheet of paper

Using the new cut-out to trace a repeated/tiling pattern on to large black sheet of paper

Cutting out the full pattern from the black paper

Cutting out the full pattern from the black paper

Sample of the final version - white sheet beneath the black to show the cut-out pattern

Sample of the final version - white sheet beneath the black to show the cut-out pattern

Placing the photocopied stencil within the lampshade to trace the pattern

Placing the photocopied and slightly altered stencil of full pattern within the lampshade to trace. This will then be cut out, again, by hand.

More images will be added soon to show the final stages of this process.