The Course


The fundamentals and further development of Islamic Geometric Patterns

The course will focus on the principles and possibilities of the star-rosette patterns that are one of the most distinctive and admired aspects of Islamic ornamental design. It centres on the construction of these patterns by hand using the simple tools of ruler and compass and covers a broad selection of these patterns, from well-known classics to highly sophisticated masterpieces.

Each taught practical session will be around two hours long, with an hour afterwards for attendees to finish off drawings in the classroom, ask the tutor any outstanding questions about the session, rest and relax, or even to go for a walk or a swim to unwind. Attendees will explore aspects of practical geometry, the simple but elegant mathematics behind the patterns and examples of their application in historical works.

There will be three levels of taught practical sessions with some sessions running simultaneously. It is up to the attendees which sessions they attend, although some sessions have preparation requirements to be completed beforehand for practical reasons. Attendees are also free to change the practical sessions they are attending. Our aim is for everyone to be challenged, supported, and happy with what they are learning.

In addition to the practical sessions, the course also offers evening lectures and clinic sessions.



These two sessions run simultaneously from 09:30 to 11:30.

Morning Fundamentals with Samira Mian and Alan Adams

There are a number of fundamental concepts and techniques that underpin Islamic star-rosette patterns. If these are understood soundly the independent analysis of historical patterns is within the grasp of most enthusiasts. These fundamentals are also needed for any exploration into the further possibilities of the art form and discovering patterns that do not exist in the historical record.

Samira Mian will lead the first four days of these sessions and Alan Adams will continue with the last four days. The syllabus starts from the very basics and the simplest patterns and develops in clear stages to cover around twenty of the best-known examples. Along the way, all the key elements of structure and successful drafting will be explained clearly in the context of the developing pattern possibilities.

These sessions are recommended for all but advanced students even if the initial patterns seem simple and very familiar as the progression is an essential part of the understanding we hope to share. We expect these sessions to be the largest group. They will be held in our lecture hall where there is plenty of space and there will be no limit on numbers.

Advanced Drawing Sessions with Daud Sutton

These sessions are aimed at experienced geometers. They assume familiarity with the concepts covered in the morning Fundamentals sessions and are limited to eight people. The first four days will cover a large pattern in a seven- and fourteen-fold vocabulary. The second four days will cover a large pattern using fifteen- and twelve-fold rosettes. Attendees will need to prepare a basic structure from which to work before starting the sessions in order to ensure that there is enough time to complete the patterns.



These sessions run simultaneously from 16:00 to 18:00. They will explore some of the ways in which the fundamental patterns and principles can be extended. There is no fixed limit on numbers for these sessions but we are hoping to keep the groups to fifteen or less. In order for our tutors to cover their material efficiently, the tutors who are not presenting in the afternoon will be on hand to offer support for beginners in these sessions.

Geometric Language of the Timurid Era with Rajen Astho

The Timurid period in Central Asian art is characterised by deep explorations of previously undiscovered possibilities in geometric pattern. As a result, the period contributed many fine and highly distinctive patterns to Islamic geometric heritage and widened the principles of the art form while remaining within the strictures of the tradition. In these sessions, Rajen Astho will share his joy for these patterns, explain how the patterns were constructed and why, uncover the many fine details, and suggest the thought processes that may have lead the original artisans to these patterns.

The Language of Ten-fold Symmetry with Ameet Hindocha

Exploring the possibilities of patterns with ten-fold symmetries quickly uncovers an astonishingly coherent geometric language based on vocabularies of perfectly proportioned shapes. In these sessions Ameet Hindocha will examine the way in which these possibilities unfold and interrelate, and how pattern variations can be explored from the starting point of a single underlying structure.

The Ultimate Bloom of the Rosette with Alan Adams

These sessions will take place on days one to four of the course. The Mamluk tradition of wooden minbars was seldom surpassed for striking visual richness. This discussion will attempt to make these patterns accessible with a coordinated approach to their structure. The steps on the road start with an introduction to the underlying unity of the structure of the 8, 10, 12, and 16 Mamluk and Ottoman rosettes. With the basic rosette structures in hand exploration of their tilings lead to some striking patterns with a pleasing universality of structure.

Watercolour Sessions with Samira Mian

These sessions will take place on days five to seven of the course and are aimed at those who want to focus on producing one or more finished watercolour paintings of patterns. They will be at an accessible beginners level but are also suitable for more advanced geometers who want to spend some time exploring colour and tonality in the patterns they have been drawing.



Daud Sutton will present a series of eight one-hour evening lectures which are open for all daily from 19:00 to 20:00.

Lecture 1 — Introduction to Islamic Ornament
Lecture 2 — How Do We Know What We Are Drawing Is Correct?
Lecture 3 — Geometric Rosettes and How to Draw Them
Lecture 4 — Tangential Polygons: The Open Secret
Lectures 5 to 8 — Masterpieces of the Mamluk Era (parts 1 to 4)



There will be an hour and a half dedicated each day from 12:00 to 13:30 for clinic sessions with our tutors. Individuals or small groups of two to four people may book a half hour session with a tutor in their dedicated teaching space to cover any questions they have. On some days some tutors may also dedicate the whole one and a half hour period to covering a specific topic such as drafting tools, software for geometric exploration, or other subjects. These will be confirmed during the course.

Our tutors will also be available informally throughout the duration of the course and the studio spaces will be available for quiet drawing time when not in use for sessions.



We are hoping to offer optional visits to one or more of the world-renowned Islamic monuments in the nearby cities of Granada, Seville and Cordoba. These visits will depend on demand and other practicalities and will have a separate additional cost. If you are booking a place on the course and would like to join these visits please register your interest with us when you book.