Posted tagged ‘Islamic’

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: http://diminutos.wordpress.com/).  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 http://www.callane.com/works.html

Wheelbarrow by Cal Lane

Plasma-cut steel wheelbarrow (2007) by Cal Lane. Image taken from http://www.callane.com/

Cal Lane

Large piece by Cal Lane. Image taken from http://www.callane.com/

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 http://redanna.blogspot.com/2009/03/henna.html

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: http://www.callane.com/

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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 http://www.jenstark.com/sculpture/

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: http://www.jenstark.com/sculpture/?page=sculpture

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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 http://www.sahandhesamiyan.com/

Shams Ι (Sun Ι), Black Oxidised steel (2007) by Sahand Hesamiyan. Image taken from http://www.sahandhesamiyan.com/

Eastern Sun, composite and Aluminium (2007) by Sahand Hesamiyan. Image taken from http://www.sahandhesamiyan.com/

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: http://www.mopcap.com/finalists/statement/98

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: http://www.sahandhesamiyan.com/html/selectwork/sculpture/eastsun/eastsuna.html

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Further experimentation

November 8, 2009

Guess what?! For those who haven’t heard, we didn’t get to do our presentations in the end. Just a few minutes before we were about to start we were asked to evacuate the building because of a suspected gas leak. I swear it wasn’t a set-up 🙂

I wasn’t as prepared for my presentation as I would have liked to have been anyway (having been ill the night before) so maybe it was fate. We were not able to get back into the building for the rest of the day so I went home to finish my large reflective sheet cut-out.

Here are the pictures of the final stages of this:

Partially cut reflective card

Partially cut reflective card

cut-out pattern

Cutting completed - my A4 cutting mat looking very small in comparison to the A2 card

Layering reflective sheets

Here I layered the cut sheet on a regular sheet of reflective card - already the effect of the lighting can be seen on the wall next to it. I also like the fact that it looks like the reflection is coming from a pool of water

Projection with reflected light

By slightly curving the sheets the projected pattern forms wave-like shapes and also reflects the light at sharper angles. The layering combines the reflection of both the cut-out pattern as well as the blank sheet beneath

Layered projection

This time I placed the top sheet facing down - the effect creates a more solid pattern as this blocks the reflection from the bottom layer

I’m really pleased with how these reflected patterns have projected. My next mission is to find a way to animate the projection – if I can. The curved shape reminds me of waves or ripples and if I can get the sheet/s to move in a similar way then that would be really cool. I can just imagine some kind of handle that you would turn in a circle to get the wave into motion but I have no idea how I would build it. I guess its to do with mechanics and carpentry? I can imagine it being like an old wooden toy. However, it’s not a digital solution which is what I would prefer, but does it matter?

In my workshop this morning we looked into Arabesque, Islimi, biomorphic patterns. These terms are only slightly different in meaning but can generally refer to the same type of floral nature representative patterns. Adam Williamson (see his web site for an idea of his vast skills in this art, including hand-carved stone and murals :  http://www.adamwilliamson.com/)  is teaching this part of the short course. He  showed us a few slides of wave formations and diagrams that illustrate the movement of water behaving like a spinning spiral and the same can be seen in a vortex. He also showed us this video of Reuben Margolin who builds kinetic sculptures that recreate natural movements found in waves and even caterpillars: Maker profile of Reuben Margolin

Just a coincidence?

Nb: one of the first machines shown in the clip is the handle being turned to make the wave motion – that’s exactly what I was thinking!

Reuben Margolin - Kinetic sculptor

Still from video by Make Television on Reuben Margolin's Kinetic sculptures. Here you can see the wave in motion being turned using wooden handles

How am I going to make that? lol I think it would be a tad bit too ambitious to even go there. But I do need to keep thinking and experimenting to find alternative solutions…

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!

Electronic circuits, Arduino and others

May 27, 2009

It must seem like I’ve been quiet recently but I have been doing stuff. ‘Stuff’ is probably the best word to use here because it is encompasses quite a varied group of ‘things’ as a description.

Here’s a break down of my recent activities:

Reading Digital Arts, by Christiane Paul: I was actually supposed to have done this at the start of the academic year as it was listed as ‘recommended reading’ but no one really does that right?

More Pattern making: some were failures – I started giving in and doing my own thing again but I pulled back and said ‘No Sara you must follow the rules’ so I went back to using my handy Islamic Design book and did some new patterns.

Remember doing this in school?

Remember doing this in school?

This one had potential but then I didn't like the way it was going

This one had potential but then I didn't like the way it was going

Another naughty pattern

Another naughty pattern

It’s always frustrating trying to get the lines, angles and circles in the right places but I persevered. Now I have some new patterns to work with to create some more laser cut panels. I want to do more complicated patterns to really experiment with light and shadow effects.

Back to following the rules

Back to following the rules

Underlying grid is easy to see in this image which looks quite interesting as a whole

Underlying grid is easy to see in this image which looks quite interesting as a whole

Hand cut pattern in black card

Hand cut pattern in black card

I’m pleased with this (above image) – even though it looks quite simple it took a while to get to that stage. The star shaped flowers are not accurate at all but I’ll be fixing that up when I make a digital version using Photoshop and Illustrator. I will probably add more detail to the larger shapes though, as I think details look better when enlarged with a light source on a wall – almost like a projection.Using this hand cut method allows me to get a rough idea of what the laser cut design will look like in mdf.

Visiting the Library: I rarely go to the library anymore. Not because I don’t like reading or even just looking at the pictures in books but because I prefer to have my own copies. That way I know I won’t find any unusual stains in between the pages, nor will I have to worry about returning it in time in order to avoid a fine. Anyway so back to the story at hand – I decided that forking out £26 for ‘Physical Computing’ by Dan O’Sullivan and Tom Igoe, was slightly beyond my current budget and it would make sense to just go and borrow it. So off I went to LCC and I’m glad to say no stains have been discovered as yet.

I’ll write a review on both books at some point.

Electronics/Arduino board workshop: Leon, a current Camberwell PhD student was doing this workshop for us last Wednesday (20th May). A brief overview of how it works was provided, as well as some useful links (http://www.arduino.cc/). I spent a good amount of time trying to familiarise myself with the different parts of the boards whilst putting together a set for infra-red detecion. Had to look up different types of resistors, transistors, and all those kinds of bits and bobs to make sure I was putting the right ones in the right places.

Arduino board image from arduino.cc

Arduino board image from http://www.arduino.cc

We then moved on to testing Isaac’s (fellow student: http://www.isaac.alg-a.org/) motor circuit which had a light sensitive resistor attached to it. This set was programmed to turn on an LED and start a motor faster or slower according to the light detected by it. The code looks quite similar to PHP and other complicated programming languages that I really need to start learning at some point. Or maybe I think they are complicated because getting to know it better is something I keep putting off and is almost my excuse for delaying the process?

Getting to know a circuit

Getting to know a circuit

My fear of learning this new but potentially hard stuff is not greater than my wanting to complete my project to a high standard.

Before, during and after (pt3): Unveiled – Saatchi Gallery

April 17, 2009

This post is a continuation of the previous two parts:
Before, during and after – Part one
Before, during and after – Part two

After After much contemplation I wonder if ‘Unveiled’ was a deliberate choice of name intended to provoke feelings of negativity? The use of the word ‘unveiled’ means that something is usually bought to everyone’s attention – something that might have been hidden behind the veil? Posters using images from Shadi Ghadrian’s ‘Like Everyday Series’ seem to give the impression that the content of the exhibition is largely related to a Muslim’s way of life and therefore a truth is being uncovered.

As it is Muslim women that wear the veil, this is a direct link of association. However, unknown to the general public, not all women wearing a veil did so just because they were made to, or, as everyone is led to believe, because they are oppressed. The women in this country are a great example – they have no social, local or political pressure to do so. If anything, it is going against the social norm to do so and they are facing up to society’s criticism. So when someone then sees that poster of a large hijab (scarf) and only an iron, pan or knife in the middle where the face should be, what are they likely to think? That a Muslim woman has no identity and is only distinguished by her domesticity?

As a young Muslim living in this country I think it is so important to educate others and give them the opportunity to discover new things. There were a few items in this show that were great to see. Others I personally would have left out. If I could question one thing about the exhibition it would be if there was any thought about how the public would be educated about the cultures and roots of the artists and if that was done fairly? Art is a great form of communication and if we could use that to spread some understanding and not ridicule or scrutiny then it would be very useful to forming an open-minded society.

I wonder at the motivations of the artists I’ve discussed above and Andy suggested I try and contact them. This is not going to be an easy task but I think I’ll give it a shot. You never know – the stuff in the brochure might just have been written to provoke reactions and encourage visits to the exhibition?

I’ll keep you posted of any replies I get.

This whole exhibition has provoked many thoughts with me, and because of the many contradictory aspects of individual works, it has led me to question my own agenda in being an artist and my own reasoning behind what I produce. Does my work have to be Islamic? If I am Islamic, will my work not automatically be Islamic too?

Below are further images from the exhibition:

Before, during and after (pt1): Unveiled – Saatchi Gallery

April 14, 2009

I’ve spent so long writing this post and procrastinating over it too – it’s been in my draft posts section for almost a month and for some reason it has conjured a lot of questions in my mind. At the same time I’ve been discussing these in the last two tutorials with John and in informal and brief chats with Andy and even a couple of my peers. The visit to the Saatchi gallery basically coincided with my personal exploration of what Islamic Art is. I think this is one topic I’ll be addressing continuously throughout my MA.

This has led me to question whether I need to make sure I just stick to what I know to be Islamic Art? But then seeing what other artists out there call Islamic Art is necessary – after all this is where I will be placing my own work, amongst today’s Islamic artists.

There have been many other issues related to all this and my personal beliefs that have kept me from being able to complete this post in the usual hour or so that I would take. I think it’s mainly due to the array of work in this exhibition but I will try and explain how seeing the work triggered certain thoughts for me.
Btw – Due to how lengthy this text has become I will divide it in to three separate posts to make it easier to digest.

Before I went to this exhibition I thought I’d read up on it first. I don’t usually like having my first impressions influenced by reviews and other people’s opinions but this time I wanted to know more about the work and the artists in order to determine if it was worth going to – for some reason I had doubts. This could be because recently work from the Middle East has been more ‘out there’ and of a European/Western influence rather than something connected to its own roots as is evident in more traditional Middle Eastern art. I think there is something special about the traditional styles that have dispersed in more contemporary work. But this is just my opinion as is everything I say in this blog of course (except where I’ve quoted). I would like to take this opportunity to remind my readers that many of my posts are heavily opinionated and are no reflection of any other individuals or groups.

Having seen a couple images and articles about the exhibition I almost disregarded it. I thought ‘well none of this looks Islamic so how is it relevant?’ Well yeh that sounds really narrow minded because although it might not fit my definition of ‘Islamic Art’ it doesn’t mean it isn’t – right? And even then it isn’t being labelled as Islamic art so why should I object to the content. The cultural background could be relevant as they come from Islamic countries.

Then I found this article and it convinced me to take a look: http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/art/reviews/unveiled-new-art-from-the-middle-east-saatchi-gallery-london-1522227.html

Unveiled is an exhibition of contemporary Middle Eastern art, Rahbar being Iranian. Or rather, like her flag, not quite. Born in Tehran in 1976, she has been in exile in Britain and America for most of her life, which means she is both a victim of Western domination and complicit in it. She is not alone in this. Only eight of the 19 artists in this show actually live in the Middle East, and only two of the seven women. (For them, presumably, “unveiled” has a more specific meaning.) The rest – notionally Algerian, Lebanese, Iraqi or Palestinian – make their art in Paris or Berlin or New York.

Some very relevant points were made in this article – touching on issues I’ve considered myself. I wonder if, like these artists I am greatly influenced by the pulls of two different cultures. My parents are Pakistani but I was born and bought up her and have lived here in London my whole life. And yet I don’t see those things as being what defines me. I don’t feel that I need to belong to any of those places – as long as I’m not rejected from either 😐 And more importantly I don’t think anyone has the right to say one way or the other.

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.