BA (Hons) Glass and Ceramics, University of Sunderland

“At school up to A Level my work was very literal, with no freedom to create what I am passionate about. Much of my work included a base shape, then the surface was covered with flowers and various simple shapes.

I began my time at Sunderland by completing a Foundation Diploma in Art and Design and this was the first time I’d ever had the freedom to choose what my project would be about. After much experimentation I was encouraged to follow my family heritage and interests in Islamic geometry.

For my BA I’ve been given the support I need to create large-scale contemporary geometric installations based on Islamic shapes and patterns. I am not afraid to think outside the box and often look for ways I can change techniques to make the patterns more complex and interesting.

Over the last two years I have worked with the aim of making my work contemporary by altering the Islamic pattern. This year I’m introducing chaos by extruding the clay for a second time. I’m currently using a range of different clays such as stoneware, terracotta and white earthenware.

I’ve had the opportunity to use a waterjet to cut out my own dies for the extruder, pushing the variety of clays through to get a long sculptural extruded pattern. I then patch the patterns together to form a consistent larger shape, and extrude for the second time so the patterns become distorted and twist around each other. These extrusions stand tall and bend upwards, revealing the pattern within the clay.

With my degree show, I want my work to stand out, to draw people in and question what type of pattern is embedded within the clay. I want people to see my work and gain an interest into how beautiful Islamic geometry is and really appreciate its complexity.

Through doing the course, I feel as though I have found my passion. I think I have pushed myself greatly for the final degree show. Although I struggled to find a way at the beginning, after experimenting I have gained numerous techniques and found myself able to fully understand what I can do as an artist.

I have always had the dream to open my own studio, create my own work and also teach others. As part of my market research I have done all of the necessary preparation to do so, successfully gaining an amazing weekend job. I now have the ability to be financially stable and continue my journey in contemporising Islamic geometry in my own space.”

Degree show: 15 – 23 June.

1. Aaisha Ali, Islamic Art
2. Aaisha Ali, Untitled

Interview by Jack Hutchinson