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Science and spirituality collide at new exhibition

CUTTING-EDGE digital art combines with traditional, hand-drawn Islamic geometry in Zarah Hussain's Light Upon Light, a new exhibition at Rugby Art Gallery and Museum.

Zarah Hussain
Root 2 Yellow Purple 2020-2021 (copyright Zarah Hussain) Published Tuesday, 14th September 2021

A self-proclaimed 'visual mathematician', Hussain works at the intersection of science and spirituality, combining her childhood passion for Islamic geometry with digital technology to create interactive apps, infinitely looping animations, paintings and sculptures.

Born in Macclesfield, Hussain was pursuing a career in the media with the BBC when her research led her to discover a course in visual and Islamic art run by the Prince's School of Traditional Arts in London.

Securing a paid scholarship on the strength of her portfolio, Hussain graduated with a master's degree in 2004 and her innovative and experimental work has secured critical acclaim ever since.

Sharjah Spectrum, a large-scale, interactive installation which allowed visitors to manipulate colours via mobile phones, featured at the Sharjah Museum's 2015 Islamic Arts Festival in the United Arab Emirates.

Hussain projected her animated geometry, Magic Carpet, on the exterior of London's William Morris Gallery the same year, while Numina, her large-scale sculpture with digitally animated surface, was commissioned by The Barbican for the capital venue's foyer spaces programme.

Light Upon Light, which opens at Rugby Art Gallery and Museum on Saturday (18 September), features 12 new pieces of wall-based sculpture, together with drawings and the light installation, Invisible Threads.

Hussain created Invisible Threads for the 2018 Macclesfield Barnaby Festival, with its ever-changing design and infinite colour combinations ensuring the piece constantly evolves.

Sarah Holdaway, Rugby Art Gallery and Museum's senior visual arts officer, said: "Zarah's work traces a line from the ancient art form of Islamic geometry to the digital age, creating pieces which chime with her belief in universal connectivity.

"By blending the traditional with the cutting-edge, she has created a stunning body of work and we're excited to welcome some of her latest pieces at Rugby Art Gallery and Museum."

Zarah Hussain's Light Upon Light, a touring exhibition produced by Gallery Oldham, runs until Saturday 13 November.

Cllr Howard Roberts, Rugby Borough Council portfolio holder for leisure and wellbeing, said: "Zarah Hussain has forged a growing reputation in British contemporary art and we're delighted to bring her latest exhibition to Rugby.

"Our gallery team has devised a range of themed children's activities to support Light Upon Light, meaning young visitors can experiment with some of the techniques and ideas which inspire Zarah's work."

For more information on events and exhibitions at Rugby Art Gallery and Museum, visit

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