Ayesha Gamiet is an artist living and working in the UK. Her work is inspired by traditional arts of the world and the beauty of nature.
"The way I live my life is by continuously aspiring to achieve harmony and bring something positive to the world.
I was born and brought up here, my parents are from South Africa and ethnically we are very mixed. What I do is take the best from every culture that has influenced me, and try to use this as a positive force in my life.
It is when I am creating my art that I feel I am closest to achieving this. My MA in traditional and Islamic arts at the Prince’s School of Traditional Arts (PSTA) was an incredible experience. I was exposed to traditional and sacred arts from all around the world, and had the opportunity to study under experts in the field. I knew once I had finished that I would benefit from time to soak in the inspiration and knowledge I had absorbed while studying there. By the time I was ready to start my PhD, I was ready to learn more, and to explore the concept that had first captured my imagination while studying for my Masters.
The idea, which forms the basis for my PhD thesis, looks at the way in which the 99 names of Allah are reflected in Islamic art and architecture. The project interests me because, in Islam, we believe that the 99 names are God’s attributes and are reflected in the world around us as manifestations of his presence.
This concept has captured my imagination since I was studying for my MA. It is an idea that I have been ruminating and turning round in my mind during those interceding years. I have been looking at colour in Islamic art and the idea of light, the way in which divine light is a symbol in all traditions. Once I had made these connections my challenge was to work out how to take that knowledge even further and apply it to my work. This is what continues to occupy my thoughts - exploring the theoretical and understanding how it is reflected in practice.
I have been involved in the PSTA’s outreach programme, teaching workshops to schoolchildren and adults in countries such as Abu Dhabi as well as the UK, which was very rewarding. Addressing disaffection through art is one of the aims of the PTSA and a good example of this was a project in Burnley. It involved several strands, which included workshops in schools to promote harmony, as well as projects to provide members of the community with craft skills, which could then be used to help community members sell their work and generate an income. I taught a silk-painting workshop to first-generation women in Burnley. The participants were from English and Asian backgrounds. By tapping into the existing talents of people, the idea was that community cohesion through art and creating social opportunities could be a realistic goal.
Some of my most treasured works are of Islamic manuscript illumination, which is the border work around calligraphy. It is called illumination because gold is used in order to brighten the calligraphy. The gold is applied using hand-made paint that are the product of traditional techniques and recipes. These create inks and paints that are centuries old in their composition.
Art will always be a part of my life. Most recently, children’s book illustration captured my imagination, partly because I was inspired by my father who was an illustrator and partly because I feel it is important to share the beauty of the world’s diverse cultures with children. I am illustrating for the child in me and decided last year to embark upon that journey. I began with a ten-evening course in children’s book illustration. My instinct for composition, colour and the way in which a book is paced seemed well-tuned and I found myself exploring concepts that were unique yet universal to children.
I intend to always be involved in both creating and teaching Islamic art, and I have recently been commissioned by Stacey International to illustrate a children’s introduction to Islamic art, which will come out in autumn 2011. I am enjoying the experience immensely.
To find out more about Ayesha Gamiet and her work visit http://ayeshagamiet.com/