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Classic Shamsa illuminations and constructions. These pictures measure approximately 19 cm. square, and are painted using traditional mineral colours and 24ct. gold. They show the construction of the design over a geometrical structure, and a fully rendered illumination in the style that developed in 16th century Safavid Iran. The last image is a flame fractal created using Apophysis software. It's self-similarity on different scales reflects the exponentially expanding structure of the classic shamsa.
The logarithmic spiral is found in many forms in nature; constructed using the Fibonacci number sequence it creates a basis for an alternative shamsa. The illuminated dragon and cloud motifs were adapted by Iranian illuminators from Chinese models - and the form re-appears in the Julia set of fractals.
The Shamsa or sunburst device often adorned the opening pages of royal manuscripts from the 15th to the 17th centuries. The the design of laser-cut steel shamsas installed in the exhibition is also rendered as a contemporary illumination, using traditional mineral colours, gold and silver,
The Brunei Gallery houses a permanent display of manuscripts from the collection of the School of Oriental and African Studies, part of the University of London. 'Geometry, Illumination and Beyond' was my response to this collection.
The scope of this exhibition was to consider the eclectic nature and universal impact of Islamic manuscript art, and the role of mathematics and craftsmanship in its making.
I wanted to explore ways of extending its possibilities beyond traditional boundaries by incorporating new media and techniques.
These include structures from classical geometry, illumination techniques, digital fractals and photoshop, and laser-cut steel installations.
The grammar of vegetal forms, or Arabesques, from which illuminated designs are built up prefigure the natural curves expressed in fractal geometry. In the same way their repetition at different scales invokes the self-similarity that distinguishes fractal imagery.
Each work in this series represents part of an overall 'conversation' bringing together different elements of illuminated design and the visual analogies that I discovered while working with fractal computer programmes.