For Ameet Hindocha developing a multi-disciplinary practice with the exploration of geometry at it’s core has allowed him to explore the structural possibilities of geometry, within a visual and process-led framework. It has allowed him to tap into an ancient but living tradition of design, and explore it with the tools available today and the possibilities they offer. We talk to Ameet about the range of media he uses in his work, embarking in the digital art world and NFT's and his thoughts on the future of Islamic art and culture.
What made you interested in Islamic geometric patterns?
I’ve always had an interest in systematic art forms, in particular those that overlap with mathematics. But it was a short course at Prince’s School of Traditional Arts called Geometry and the Order of Nature taught by Tom Bree that really fired up my interest in Islamic geometry and introduced me to both the practical methods of construction with ruler and compass, and to the contemplative and spiritual side of the practice.
Did you take up any formal art training?
One of the reasons I incorporated these new skills in geometric construction into my art and design practice so readily is because I was already a trained and practicing graphic designer. I have also taught creative technical skills at the University of Arts London for almost 20 years so I am attuned to current art and design practice. The study at the Prince’s School gave me a better understanding of traditional craft skills and their context. The way this knowledge overlaps with contemporary and digital-led creative practice has informed my practice as a maker and as an educator.
As well as paint, you also have traditional skills in marquetry and digital technology. Can you tell us more about your process?
I have always been interested in exploring a range of image-making processes, especially the potential that arises when different processes are combined to reveal unique outcomes. I become restless if I restrict myself to a small range of materials or processes. I have found this frustrating in the past because I felt like I could never become really good at any one thing but I have learned to embrace this restlessness and the resulting slowness of developing proficiency. I've realised there is no rush to get anywhere because there is no destination, only the journey.
Geometry has given me a focal point within which I can explore all kinds of materials and processes while giving my practice a sense of coherence as a whole. I see my practice as a continuum where each design or outcome suggests new possibilities. By not fixating on the outcomes, the driving force behind the work has a momentum that seems to have a life of it’s own.
What has been the most challenging work you have created to date?
The drawing currently half-finished on my table and book project I have been working on for the last few years are some of most challenging works I have made. Challenges should increase with my skill and understanding so it feels right that the most recent work is the most challenging, and the next ones even more so. Hopefully they will surface sometime soon for others to appreciate.
What do you hope audiences feel or think when they encounter your work?
To be honest, I don’t presume or enforce what an audience might feel or think in response to my work. I make the work that interests me and am appreciative if people give it the time to develop a response. Any piece of art is only partly the creator’s. Once it has been released into the world, what an audience might feel or think is their part of the piece of work and I am grateful that anyone is even paying attention.
You are also an educator, why is it important for you to keep the tradition of Islamic art alive?
I have found it such an enriching experience to be involved in this practice, to learn about its history and to play my small role in an aspect of human creative endeavour that has carried on for centuries. My aim is to inspire students to discover the traditional skills of geometric construction as fundamental tools for design in the modern world.
Passing my enthusiasm for geometry on to others to inform their creative practices and to connect with something larger than them feels like a worthwhile thing to do. I like to think it goes some way to undoing some of the negative influence of our highly commercialised society by focusing on slow, immersive, hands-on practice with an exploration of the beauty of number at it’s core.
Is there a spiritual element to your work?
Yes, for me there is, but it's not something I enforce in my teaching as this is a personal connection that is there for those who want to connect with it. I feel that geometry can enlighten us to a higher truth if we open ourselves to it's wordless lessons.
You have developed a series of NFT’s, can you share more about your plans for creating work in a digital space?
It's a new mode for the dissemination of artwork and ideas which have previously never had a good outlet, for me in particular my animation and digital illustration. At the moment there are more content creators than buyers and emphasis seems to be on investment rather than as a way of supporting artists and connecting with their work. Being in it's infancy, things are changing all the time but I am interested in the potential so I'm keen to dip my toe in and see how it develops. I have many new works which would suit this space.
What projects are you currently working on?
I hinted at a long-term book project. I am focusing on completing this at the moment.
I am also teaching another course with Alan Adams for PFSTA based on studying the notebooks of Anthony J Lee which are one of the most rigorous, mathematically-focussed studies of Islamic Star Patterns.
Aside from these projects I always have drawing, painting, origami and other making projects on the go when I can find the time. This work is the core of my practice, taking the exploration of geometry and it’s material application wherever it leads me. This then progresses into larger and more ambitious projects, but the practice is rooted in playful experimentation.
What does the future of Islamic art look like to you?
The new tools we have available to us which were not available pre-Industrial revolution give us new ways to perceive and express the beauty inherent in number so Islamic pattern explored with new tools leads to new insights.
With regards the geometry itself, this is not dependent on tools as it can exist purely in the imagination. New patterns with that classic, timeless feel are still waiting to be discovered. As more and more artists, mathematicians, architects and others are introduced to the subject and exploring them from their unique vantage point I imagine new patterns which fit into the formal structures of Islamic geometric pattern will be unearthed.
This art form has always been quite mysterious as knowledge was secretively passed down through guilds. The increasing accessibility to learning these methodologies combined with the possibilities of new technologies and tools will no doubt take the art form in new directions.
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