By Julius Purcell

Put a square on another square, rotate it, and you get an eight-point star. Put that star with others, and you get new stars and new squares. Set those into a lattice of multicoloured glass, like the 15th-century north African window in this new exhibition, and you get an object of prismatic, mathematical beauty.

Overlay the fact that Christian Spain used this star motif in its own mudéjar style while at the same time abhorring the religious culture that made it – and you also get a paradox that Europe is still puzzling out.

In putting together Nur: Light in Art and Science from the Islamic World, Tunisian curator Sabiha al-Khemir has used light, geometry and other motifs to explore unifying themes in some 150 pieces from across the Islamic world, dating from the ninth century onwards. [Read more…]