Complex Geometry which started in the 8th century CE

In Islamic culture, geometric design is everywhere: you can find it in mosques, palaces, and private homes.

Detail view of khanqah portal; muqarnas semi-dome, Shaykh 'Abd a

As the month of Ramadan begins and Muslims around the world start practising the Pillar of Islam called Sawm, it is a timely moment to celebrate the geometric beauty found in Islamic art. For centuries, the only way to create polygons and required angles was to use a compass and straight edge. With so few tools you can understand why Islamic geometrical patterns begin with the starting point of a circle to keep things simple. Some researchers think that the use of the circle is a way of expressing the Unity of Islam.  The idea is that the circle and its centre is the point at which all Islamic patterns begin; the circle is a symbol of a religion that emphasizes One God (Tawhid) and the role of Makkah, which is the centre of Islam toward which all Muslims face in prayer (Salah/Salat).

Evolution of Islamic geometric patterns

Most Islamic geometrical patterns are based on constructive polygons, such as the hexagon and octagon. Star polygons, which are fundamental elements of Islamic geometrical patterns, are created by connecting the vertices of constructive polygons. You can watch an interesting 5 minute video from Ted-Ed which explains the complex geometry of Islam with some glorious video footage and explanation of the Islam’s industrious mathematical past.

Imam Mosque (Masjed-e Imam), is a mosque in Isfahan, Iran standi

The Miraculous Journey

‘The Miraculous Journey’ (2005 – 2013) consists of fourteen large-scale bronze sculptures that chart the gestation of a foetus from conception to birth. This impressive art work is by controversial British artist Damien Hirst. It can be found outside the new Sidra Medical and Research Centre in Doha, Qatar.

d hirst

‘The Miraculous Journey‘ begins with the fertilization of an egg and ends with a fully formed baby. The huge bronze figures range from 5 to 11 metres in height and the whole structure weighs 216 metric tonnes. They were individually cast in over 500 panels at Pangolin Foundry in the UK before being transported to Qatar.

d hirst 2

Hirst explains that the work came from, “a desire to create something monumental, whilst essentially human.” He states: “Ultimately, the journey a baby goes through before birth is bigger than anything it will experience in its human life. I hope the sculpture will instill in the viewer a sense of awe and wonder at this extraordinary human process, which will soon be occurring in the Sidra Medical Center, as well as every second all across the globe.”

d hirst 3

Sheikha al Mayassa Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, chairwoman of the Qatar Museums Authority who commissioned the work, made the point to the New York Times: “To have something like this is less daring than having a lot of nudity. There is a verse in the Qur’an about the miracle of birth. It is not against our culture or our religion.” In the Qur’an it says, [We] then formed the drop into a clot and formed the clot into a lump and formed the lump into bones and clothed the bones in flesh; and then brought him into being as another creature. Blessed be Allah, the Best of Creators! (Qur’an, 23:14).

This really interesting artwork which teaches people about the incredible nature of human development from conception, embryo, foetus and birth  links to what we learn in PSHCE about pregnancy and also what we study in RS classes about  Islam and abortion.  The main fact to remember is that it is rarely permitted after 120 daysMuslims regard abortion as wrong and haram (forbidden), but many accept that it may be permitted in certain cases.

As with most moral debates, a religion like Islam will have a variety of viewpoints. All schools of Muslim law accept that abortion is permitted if continuing the pregnancy would put the mother’s life in real danger. This is the only reason accepted for abortion after 120 days of the pregnancy.  Different schools of Muslim law hold different views on whether any other reasons for abortion are permitted, and at what stage of pregnancy if so. Some schools of Muslim law permit abortion in the first 16 weeks of pregnancy, while others only permit it in the first 7 weeks. However, even those scholars who would permit early abortion in certain cases still regard abortion as wrong, but do not regard it as a punishable wrong.

The Qur’an does not explicitly refer to abortion but offers guidance on related matters.

We’re going on a bee hunt!

On Monday the Bee in the City art trail which consists of 101 bee sculptures was unveiled to the public. Local artists have done a unique design for each one and at the end of the project all the bees will be auctioned off for the Lord Mayor’s We Love MCR charity. People have been heading out onto the streets of Manchester to spot the bees, sending their photographs in to the Manchester Evening News.

Love Bee

This bee is called The Love Bee and was created by Nisha Grover. The faith symbols along the bottom represent Manchester’s commitment to standing together, united by love and the belief in the goodness of people.

Why not head to Manchester and get searching; the trail will be in place until September 23rd.

Learn about the Grim Realities of the USSR

Take a trip to London’s Tate Modern before January 28th 2018 and you’ll be able to enjoy the ironic art of Ilya and Emilia Kabakov as well as finding out some history facts about the Russia and the USSR. The Guardian describes the art as tragicomic and for a 9 year old there needed to be a lot of explaining but for a teenager who’s learnt a little about the USSR from history lessons it will all make pretty decent sense.

We really liked the man who flew into space from his apartment with all its propaganda posters on the walls. That feeling of utter desperation and the desire to escape had forced the apartment’s occupant to create a contraption so he’d be able to catapult himself through the ceiling.


Room Ten of the exhibition focuses on the Kabakov’s interest in angels. There was a little wooden model..

wooden model

As well as the written explanation of How to Meet an Angel…


You left knowing that they’ve also tried it on a larger scale…

real angel

People believe in angels as a paranormal possibility, as well as in Christianity and Islam. Looking at the Kabakov’s artwork it just made you realise that people need the idea of angels coming to their aid and assistance in moment’s of individual unique need.

Tate Modern knows how to show installation art, with room and room housing thought provoking art. In a few days the exhibition Red Star Over Russia will also start, making Tate Modern the place to visit for students wanting an insight into Russia and the Soviet Union from 1905.




Obituary for David Shepherd

Told by Slade School of Art in London that he had no artistic talent didn’t stop David Shepherd from being able to raise more than £8m for wildlife conservation by donating the proceeds from the sales of his painting to charities such as the World Wildlife Fund. Later in his life, in 1984, he set up the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation which campaigned to protect endangered species, and combat poaching and its trade.

a very wise old elephant

His paintings, whether they be of large animals or huge locomotives, showed the subject facing down the audience, bold and large. In 1970 the BBC made a documentary about him called The Man who Loved Giants.

In 2011 he launched a social media campaign to save the tiger in the wild, TigerTime.

“Man is the most stupid, arrogant and dangerous animal on Earth,” he said. “Every hour we destroy a species to extinction, and unless we start doing something about that very quickly, we are going to self-destruct.”

Soul of a Nation


Soul of a Nation a new art exhibition at Tate Modern art gallery in London examines what it meant to be black and an artist during the civil rights movement, from 1963 – when the idea of black power was emerging in the USA – through to 1983. As you arrive in the first room you are met with the audio of Martin Luther King‘s ‘I have a dream’ speech. It is the first time a lot of the art has been in displayed in the UK. For anybody interested in the history of the civil rights movement or how we are striving for racial harmony, then this is an art exhibition not to be missed, Channel 4 agree.


Banksy Bethlehem Hotel

The Walled Off Hotel by Banksy in Bethlehem is certainly artwork with a political message. Its owner says it has “the worst view of any hotel in the world”, while its 10 rooms get just 25 minutes of direct sunlight a day. Why? Well it is placed right next to the 8 metre high concrete wall which Israel has built to defend itself from terrorism and refugees. Sound familiar?

People stand outside the Walled Off hotel, which was opened by street artist Banksy, in the West Bank city of Bethlehem

The hotel opens to guests on 20 March, with bookings via the website. The media have swooped in to report on the hotel, with Channel 4 going for a tour around the rooms

. The team hope Israelis, who rarely see the barrier wall up close or visit Palestinian towns, will be among the guests, even though visiting means breaking the law. Israelis are banned from visiting Bethlehem and its holy sites, and even though the hotel is situated in an Israeli controlled spot, it is surrounded by Palestinian controlled territory.

“I would like to invite everyone to come here, invite Israeli civilians to come visit us here,” said manager Wisam Salsaa. “We want them to learn more about us, because when they know us it will break down the stereotypes and things will change.”


In Year 9 we have done a unit on war and conflict, questioning whether religion is dangerous, as well as a current unit on Pilgrimage which looks into the importance of Jerusalem for Christianity, Islam and Judaism. This has lead us to briefly study the Arab Israeli conflict and how Palestine and Israel interact. Newsround give a brief and simple background to the conflict, whereas there is also a BBC History page which catalogues the events from 1250 BC to the modern day. If you’d rather watch a video then VOX have a 10 minute quick run through of how the conflict arose, and in a similar fashion CrashCourse History have 13 minute video explaining the conflict.

If all this has peaked your interest in Banksy then: