by Shehana Udat
As a young girl, I was always marveling at Islamic geometric patterns that I came across, whether it was on architecture, inside mosques or simply on the covers and pages of holy books. I was guided back to this interest years later and decided to have a first-hand go at practice. My intention was to simply re-create its beauty. But it was through drawing each line and circle (that would eventually form the completed underlying construction) that I recognized that these majestic patterns have hidden meanings that lie under the surface.
Under the surface of each geometric pattern lies a hidden construction, which can be translated as veiled meanings and truths. These patterns may at first glance appear complicated, but upon further exploration, one can discover so much that brings clarity. It has been said that by studying and contemplating them one can obtain an understanding of the origins of everything and, in this, a sacred truth.
All Islamic geometric patterns derive from the same origin – a simple circle; the essence of all geometric forms symbolizing unity and being the ultimate source of diversity in creation. This for me reflects the important knowledge and ultimate truth of the Universe. The world at first glance may seem complicated and turbulent, however, upon deep reflection and a commitment to seek truth, we come to recognize and understand the oneness of humanity. In the same way, Islamic geometry intrinsically reflects this vital truth—it is a unified yet diverse art form very much like human nature.
Shehana Udat is an artist born and raised in London. Through the use of classical tools and techniques she recreates traditional Islamic designs and patterns that can be found all over the Islamic world, these mainly include geometric and arabesque patterns. She has studied under Richard Henry and Adam Williamson, both leading specialists in Islamic pattern and has traveled across the Middle East and North Africa where she finds her inspiration. Alongside her art, she is a passionate advocate of human rights. She holds an MA in Human Rights from University College London (UCL) and currently works on social justice and global development issues.