Collect 2023


Mariam Syed

  • Story

  • Q & A


Glasgow (city)


Textiles / Fibre



Mariam Syed is an award-winning weaver who constructs geometric artworks that are inspired from the visual culture of her hometown Karachi, Pakistan. Discovering weaving through her love for mathematics and learning the craft from rural Pakistani artisans, Mariam strives to achieve harmony with symmetry and repetition in her woven designs. Using the double cloth weave construction, her favourite materials are silk and wool yarn.

The vibrancy of silk reminds her of the beautiful colours of Pakistan and wool is quite synonymous with Britain; her home now. Mariam has exhibited widely in the UK and in 2021 was awarded a QEST Scholarship to support a MRes from The Glasgow School of Art and an Islamic Art course in Granada (Spain).

  • Story

  • Q & A

In conversation

1. Tell us about your practice?

My practice is deeply rooted in my craft of weaving. I weave contemporary geometric artworks and accessories that are inspired by my hometown Karachi.

I also partake in Residencies and creative projects with other makers to enhance and expand my skills and knowledge. My love for mathematics led me to discover weaving. Weaving is a perfect combination of creativity and mathematical skills and I find the challenge of transferring my geometric drawings into tangible tactile pieces of art, exciting and rejuvenating. 

Recently completing a master's of Research (GSA) to understand the growing usage of digital technologies and how that shapes and redefines the future of craft has enabled me to look at my practice through a critical lens and to appreciate the qualities of handmade objects.

2. Tell us about your materials and techniques?

I approach my craft as a path to self-discovery where more emphasis is placed on the process of making and the experience rather than the product itself.

The weave construction that I use the most is ‘double-cloth’: a technique that allows the simultaneous weaving of two cloths with the pattern emerging from the interlacement of the two woven cloths.

Double-cloth allows me to weave complex structures that require enormous amounts of calculations and twice the effort and time in weaving! My two favourite materials are silk and wool yarns. The vibrancy and lustre of silk reminds me of the beautiful colours of my childhood in Pakistan while wool is synonymous with Britain; my home now.

3. What inspired the work you are presenting at Collect 2023?

This collection, The Hala Series, is inspired by the Islamic art, architecture and ornamentation of Hala; a quaint town home to a variety of crafts and artisans in Pakistan. Wandering around the shrine of the Sufi Saint and poet Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai in Hala, I was mesmerised by the ethereal beauty of Islamic Art; the complexity and repetition of the patterns and how the eye travels around, never stopping on any one place. 

The vivid colours of Hala; cobalt blue, turquoise, mustard and brown form the palette for this collection.

4. Tell us about a special detail from this new body of work?

The intricacy of the patterns and the slight imperfections achieved by the hand are my favourite details from the collection. To signify that only Allah is perfect and that we humans are prone to making mistakes, Islamic Artists would deliberately make a minor mistake in their patterns. 

Fascinated by this concept of unpredictability and fallibility and how it applies to ‘handmade’ objects, I have introduced the ‘human mark’ as minor flaws in the collection both purposely and unintentionally.

5. What do you hope the viewer will take away from this work?

I hope to attract the viewer to take a closer look at the woven geometric artworks and to appreciate how each piece is a new beginning; how it is unique and original in its own right.

I would like the viewer to take in the shapes and colours and experience the story of Hala that I aim to tell through my textiles. I also hope that the viewer will value the amount of time, effort, judgement and care it has taken to hand weave this collection.

Collect 2023 Exhibition