Wednesday, September 19, 2012

'Beauty is the first test', Pump House Gallery, Battersea, London. 12 September - 25 November 2012

Am really honoured to have had two pieces of work selected for inclusion in this brilliant exhibition exploring the links between craft and maths that has just opened in the Pump House Gallery in London. Curated by craft specialist Liz Cooper, this is a thoughtful and elegant exhibition which will intrigue and delight in equal measure.

From the website:

A group exhibition that will explore how mathematical concepts underpin craft techniques and artistic development, in an attempt to demystify a subject that intimidates both adults and children, by showing unique and stimulating works of art. ‘Beauty is the First Test’ will draw together existing and new artworks to invite in-depth consideration of contemporary craft practice in this wider context. Beauty and playfulness will be evident in the exhibits to illustrate what delights craftspeople and maths geeks alike.

Leading US mathematician Keith Devlin’s recent publication ‘The Language of Mathematics’ describes maths as ‘the science of patterns’ , a description which hardly seems terrifying given that many patterns have pleasing and decorative elements. Yet mathematics is so often the subject that pupils most dread and adults express discomfort with, despite extensive 21st century use of technology based on mathematical models. Perhaps the friendliness of current technology has not only permitted but in fact acerbated this distance from a subject that frightens and overwhelms people. Beauty is the First Test will show that the arts and mathematics are more closely bound together than many perceive and that the enjoyment of one can enhance the understanding of the other.

Exhibitors: Michael Brennand-Wood, Suresh Dutt, Janice Gunner, Lesley Halliwell, Lucy McMullen, Janette Matthews, Peter Randall Page, Ann Sutton, Laura Thomas

There is also a very full programme of accompanying educational activities.

The Beaney, Canterbury

The Beaney windows

And so after being awarded one of the Museumaker commissions in 2010, the resulting triptych windows for The Beaney House of Art and Knowledge are finally unveiled.

The windows were commissioned by The Beaney in Canterbury as part of the Museumaker programme which was supported by Arts Council England, the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council, and the Renaissance programme. Whilst most of the Museumaker commissions were temporary site specific works, I was invited to make something permanent to be integrated into the building as part of its extensive refurbishment and new extension. Having seen my ‘Resonate’ work whereby seemingly loose threads are encapsulated in acrylic resin to make wall panels and sculptures, I was encouraged to think about scaling up this principle for a triptych window. Practical needs meant that I also had to translate the aesthetic from cast resin into laminated glass.  

The selected design sees a transition from deep dark reds densely packed at the bottom of the window, gradating into scarlet then finally very openly spaced orange threads at the top of the panes. A combination of cotton, silk and linen threads of varying thicknesses and twists were used so that the interaction of light varies with the fibres, and to so give a greater sense of visual tactility. The unspun silk filament in particular seems to positively glow, whilst the slubbed linen gives a sense of weight and density.

I was delighted to work with Innovative Glass Products to realise this project where I was able to be very hands on in the workshop, literally ensuring each thread was positioned as I wanted. The largest pane in the triptych measures 210x90cm, and remains the largest work of the ilk I have made to date. 

The Beaney reopened to great fanfare on the 5th September. The windows mark the juncture between the old building and the new extension, and so can be viewed from either side in different contexts – the cafe/shop is on the old building side, and the information and reception desk is on the new building side. I am particularly delighted that the colour palette of the windows has been used as a basis throughout the building – from the staff uniforms to the upholstery on the library seats.

Love the red light highlighting the desk to echo the windows

Staff uniform colour has been choosen to pick up on the orange threads in the windows

Information desk in the new extension

From the cafe side of the window in the old building
Gratuitous baby picture :-)