Scarves and Islamic Geometric Designs: A Project for 2017

This is a smallish project: one 15cm x 15cm painting and one geometric design-based interpretation, also 15cm x 15cm, per month. As the year 2017 was approaching, I needed to conceive of an idea that I could successfully complete during a period when my time was frequently interrupted. I first came up with the notion of a series of small paintings. The subject matter came forward because my mind was much taken up with cultural customs of Muslim refugees from Syria. I took inspiration from from the colourful and creatively arranged hijab I saw when there were gatherings of largely Muslim immigrants. I decided to use my own scarves as models. I arranged and painted them in a 1:1 ratio.

The geometric design pairings came up more serendipitously. Open as I was to Islamic cultural references, a BBC Woman’s Hour podcast (December 29, 2016) interview with Zarah Hussein caught my attention. She makes some awesome work based on Islamic geometric designs. The hook for me was when she said that the basic tools are in your middle school geometry set: a compass and a ruler. After starting to learn how to make designs, I decided to add the challenge of making designs that responded to the paintings.