Light as a Spiritual Connection
Shahida Ahmed presents two remarkable installations ’99 Illuming’ and ‘Illuminated Ray’ at the Sharjah Art Museum as part of the 18th Islamic Arts Festival in Sharjah.
Shahida Ahmed, known as the British female Muslim ceramic artist, has won many awards and recognition for her work. Her installation ‘Oneness’, currently exhibited in the Australia Museum, was an inspiration for her two new light-based installations, ’99 Illuming’ and ‘Illuminated Ray’. Both installations show strong visual presence.
“God is the Light of the Heavens and the Earth.” (An-Nur, 24:35)
When it comes to ’99 Illuming’ Shahida explains: “It is based on the 99 names of Allah and the 7 heavens. The façade of cubes, using Kufic script, creates a universal code to the audience. Muslims perform Hajj as one of the pillars of Islam and walk around the Kaaba. This is symbolic representation, however what is inside nobody knows accept you and God. The 99 names of Allah are attributes, hence each layer is illuminated with colour. These attributes should build our character on the outside, but what is truly our inner self is unknown, just like the inside of the cube. Each piece is individual and not perfect but looks perfect, we can have similarities but never 100% the same.”
“One who is seen and makes other beings seen, too.”
The second installation is a large scale circle comprised of triangular shapes with light coming through as little dots. This piece has a deeper meaning to Shahida as it transpires with her personal life. It represents Noor (light) as a gateway. She wants us to envisage Noor not from the dark side when she was trapped, struggling to get out of situations and the mess surrounding her, but to see each Ray of light as hope. “I make my opening foundations through each hole which releases the rays, opportunities to seep filter out. I get out this through an ‘illuminated door’, so I never get trapped and suffocate.” Shahida shares with us.
The usage of triangles is important to Shahida as the orientation of a triangle impacts it’s meaning. For example, the point-up triangles represent a strong foundation or stability, as it is rooted to the ground through a solid base, and symbolize the elements of earth and water, while symbols for air and fire are formed from the point-down triangles. The geometry in this installation becomes the escape to perfection for Shahida.
Shahida Ahmed holds an MA in Visual Arts from the University of Leeds, she was a recipient of a scholarship at the Royal College of arts. She has been teaching art for many years to various audiences. She is an artist with a vision to stimulate and capture an audience who is able to appreciate art driven by history, culture and diversity. Shahida’s work is a modern concept of merging traditional Islamic arts through different media from sculpture to installation. Her appointing collections are based on rhythm and movement based on the same concept including calligraphy and geometry. Her works are in collections of HRH Prince Charles, Downing Street, and Foreign Commonwealth office London, Baroness Saeeda Warsi, VIP Lounge Dubai Airport, British High Commission Karachi and various other collections. She has been invited to exhibit around the world at various galleries and art events.