400 not a reference

Circles, hexagons and tapestries

By Polly Gannaway

Last week pupils at the Mulberry School for Girls completed their set of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) using the curriculum resources we developed in partnership with the Prince’s School for Traditional Arts. The Year 9 class presented their work to a highly impressed audience of pupils and teachers from the rest of the school.

Since February the pupils have been investigating the ways that geometry can be used to design beautiful patterns – and how it has been inspiring such patterns since the earliest days of Islam. The beauty of the geometric hexagon is a phenomenon that occurs in the natural world in the structure of honeycomb, the petals of many flowers and even the basalt rocks of Giants’ Causeway. The girls designed patterns using circles and hexagons and saw how the most admired examples of Islamic design, such as the Alhambra Palace in Spain, incorporated exactly the same geometric conventions.  The class also learned how, in this tradition, unlike in European art, the artists remain anonymous and there is no concept of ownership. This way the work and its meaning and quality speak for themselves and the artists’ egos do not swell too much! To reflect this principle the pupils exchanged designs throughout the process so that each one had been contributed to by many of the pupils.

This also meant that when the hexagons were transferred to fabric and decorated they could be joined together into one huge tapestry that was truly the work of the whole class and each individual at the same time.

Photos of the tapestry and videos of the girls as they work on it will be following shortly so keep a look out!