Plague of Diagrams at The Institute of Contemporary Arts, London

WEBDiagrams web imageFalmouth School of Art Senior Lecturer Neil Chapman and Course Coordinator Gillian Wylde were among contributors to Plague of Diagrams at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London. The exhibition and programme of performances, talks and discussions concerned the relationships between diagrammatic practices and thought in different disciplines. In particular, the event explored the function and use of diagrams in art as expanded diagrammatic practice beyond the graphic presentation of information.

Contributors: David Burrows, Rachel Cattle & Jenna Collins, Neil Chapman & Gillian Wylde, Ami Clarke, Richard Cochrane, Andrew Conio, John Cussans, Benedict Drew, English Heretic, Nikolaus Gansterer, Joey Holder, Dean Kenning, Christoph Lueder, Stine Ljungdalh, Adelheid Mers, Mike Nelson, Paul O’Kane, David Osbaldeston, Plastique Fantastique, Patricia Reed, John Russell, Erica Scourti, Andy Sharp, Kamini Vellodi, Martin Westwood and Carey Young.

Watch now on YouTube: Click here

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‘Take drawing seriously as mode of enquiry’ – Gemma Anderson in British Council VOICES Magazine

Published by the British Council VOICES Magazine, full article here: https://www.britishcouncil.org/voices-magazine/gemma-anderson-take-drawing-seriously-mode-enquiry 

Gemma Anderson

By Gemma Anderson

Does art simply represent the world ‘as it is’, or does it find other aspects in it, aspects that people wouldn’t normally detect? Gemma Anderson, who creates art in collaboration with scientists, explains why it is possible to be more than an illustrator when drawing and painting the world.

You use the term ‘isomorphology’ in relation to your work. What does it mean?

I created the term, based on the Greek isos, meaning same, morphe meaning form, and logos, meaning study.

In my drawing practice, I had started to see similarities in shapes repeated across the natural world. I noticed that certain sets of patterns recur in the animal, vegetable and mineral kingdoms, but I couldn’t find anything that documented these relationships. I realised that, as an artist, I could visualise relationships in a way that would be more difficult for scientists, because their work is so specialised.

What sort of patterns crop up again in nature?

There are several, including spirals, hexagons, different forms of symmetries, spheres, and branching forms.

For example, you might see a spiral in a snail’s shell or in an ammonite fossil. Practically all plants have a spiralling leaf pattern, or phyllotaxis (the scientific term for the arrangement of leaves on a stem).  And in the animal world, you see spiral forms in sharks’ egg cases. Even in humans, our heart valves and the cochlea in our inner ears are spiral-shaped.

Why do these patterns repeat?

Scientists and mathematicians talk a lot about this, and there are a lot of answers. But the main reason is that they are efficient. These forms all use space really well. They just allow matter to pack together in a smart way, that also happens to be beautiful.

Which other artists have inspired you?

I interpret a lot of the artist Paul Klee‘s work as a creative study of form that makes unconventional relationships between natural phenomena, which are usually organised separately. For example, in the work ‘Comedy‘ (1921) he draws plant and animal forms together into one body.

I’m also inspired by the German writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, who was a polymath and engaged with lots of scientists, although his work wasn’t visual art. His observations about plants were genuinely helpful to botanical scientists.

Are there similarities between the way scientists and artists approach their work?

Both scientists and artists are interested in the study of form. When I started, my expectations were that scientists spend most of their time observing things. I’ve since discovered that much scientific observation is less directly involved with examining the material of the natural world, and more involved with data and modelling. But the process of enquiry does cross over.

How do you work with scientists?

While studying at the Royal College of Art between 2005 and 2007, I began to contact the people who managed the scientific collections at museums and set up meetings where I would ask them if I could draw, say, a certain coral in their collection. At first, only about one person in ten would respond to my emails, so I had to follow up and be persistent. Slowly, I built up relationships with individual curators, who gave me space to draw; and eventually, we became friends. A lot of the relationship is about trust. They don’t have it written into their jobs that they have to help artists, so they are free to ignore your requests.

What’s the difference between your artwork and the sort of scientific illustrations one might see in a textbook?

Traditionally, the pattern is that there’s a scientist and an illustrator who is employed to represent the science. I am using drawing to ‘find’ repetitions in nature. So, although the etchings and drawings may look similar, the motivation behind my work and the questions I’m asking are different. My art represents my own understanding of the natural world, which comes from drawing. It’s qualitative. It isn’t representing a scientist’s understanding, which might come from other more quantitative methods, like DNA barcoding (a way to identify species).

How did you start?

In school, I was keen on drawing and also really liked science. I did biology and art at A-level, and enjoyed the process of mapping structures in each discipline. But learning biology through a textbook wasn’t the way I wanted to do it. Over time, through drawing in scientific collections, I was exposed to a vast range of objects in the animal, mineral and vegetable world, and that’s when I started seeing repeated patterns.

What advice would you give teachers?

Take drawing seriously as a mode of enquiry. Encourage your students to look closely at different examples of plants in the classroom, and they may start to genuinely see the five-fold symmetry or spiralling leaves of a particular flower. Don’t underestimate drawing as a way of learning and making comparisons.

For example, if you look at crystals and insects, there are symmetries in their forms: both have types of bilateral and four-fold symmetry. Crystals are more geometric, and insects are less symmetrical, of course; in real life, you only get the endless variations on these patterns. You never see quite what you expect and that’s part of the fun.

What advice would you give young artists?

I always say to my art students, try to exercise initiative. And if you want to find something out, ask! Don’t fear looking silly. There have been lots of times when I’ve been following a particular line of enquiry that might seem obvious, but not knowing is part of the process. It’s important to ask unconventional questions.

Also, use the freedom to enter lots of different disciplines that comes with being an artist. In most of society, it’s difficult to step outside the normal pattern of your work, but artists can. It’s a rarity that is available to us.

Observations Exhibition 02 – 12 February – drawings by FSA Staff – Falmouth Campus

Observations – an exhibition of drawings by staff in the Falmouth School of Art

02-12 February, Monday to Friday 10am – 4pm, the Project Space, Falmouth Campus – open to the public

Reflecting the ways in which observational drawing, often combined with memory, imagination and invention, informs a range of practice.

Selected from an open submission by staff of Falmouth School of Art’s degree courses in Fine Art, Illustration, Contemporary Crafts, Drawing and the Foundation Diploma in Art & Design.

Selected and curated by Dr Virginia Button, Director, Falmouth School of Art and Phil Naylor, Head of Drawing and Foundation Studies.

Staff exhibiting are: Gemma Anderson, Claire Armitage, Simon Averill, Neil Chapman, Jane Chetwynd, Mark Foreman, Glad Fryer, Becky Haughton, Ashley Hold, Phil Naylor, Isolde Pullum, Jesse Smith, Mark Surridge, Roger Towndrow, Virginia Verran, Lucy Willow and Gillian Wylde.


  

‘Drawing Thoughts’ – Issue 20 of Interalia Magazine devoted to Drawing

Isomorphogenesis no.13, (c) Gemma Anderson

Isomorphogenesis no.13, (c) Gemma Anderson

Interalia is an online magazine dedicated to the interactions between the arts, sciences and consciousness. The January 2016 – ‘Drawing Thoughts‘ – explores contemporary thinking on the practice of drawing, discussing its creative, expressive and educational value, and its fundamental importance to translating and analysing the world. The issue’s overarching aim is to affirm the value of drawing, and includes an interview with Falmouth BA(Hons) Drawing Lecturer Gemma Andersonclick here to read the interview with Gemma.

Contributions also include exclusive interviews with Zaria Forman, Anita Taylor and Angela Eames and Visiting Lecturer to Falmouth, Deanna Petherbridge. ‘Drawing Thoughts‘ also includes articles by James Faure Walker, Karen Kurczynski, Wendy SmithMaureen McQuillanStanzaEve Andrée Laramée, Jaq Chartier, Danielle Groves, Richard Bright and Garry Kennard; plus a video by Sir Roger Penrose: ‘How Drawing Is Used for Maths and Science.’

Anita Taylor will deliver the Keynote Lecture at the forthcoming Observations Drawing Forum at Falmouth University, an event for staff and students, alongside which will run a staff drawing exhibition.

http://www.interaliamag.org

CAFÉ MORTE presents: Lost For Words, Exhibition 6-10 January

Cafe morte

CAFÉ MORTE presents: Lost For Words

FALMOUTH UNIVERSITY PROJECT SPACE (Falmouth Campus)

6-10 January 10am-4pm (Private View 6 January 16-9pm)

Lost for Words is a culmination of the work of Café Morte to engage in and encourage discussion around the subject of death with a wider community of artists, curators and healthcare professionals.  It has been curated with the intention of creating a thoughtful and contemplative space for both artists and audience to reflect on their own personal interpretations of death and how it is represented in art and literature. The works are varied, expressed through a variety of different media and address through physical means the often unthinkable concept of absence and loss.

Exhibiting artists: Bram Arnold, Ed Ashby-Hater, Nicola Bealing, Regan Boyce, Neil Chapman, Esther Cooper-Gittens, Kerry Foster, Glad Fryer, Tanith Gould, Joanna Hulin, Sasha Knezevic, Angela Lloyd, Polly Maxwell, Neil McLeod, Janet McEwan, Lucille Moore, Eloise Pilbeam, Viola Qian, Andrew Ross, Edward Rowe, Jessica Russell, Carolyn Shapiro, Chris Slesser, Kate Southworth, Tabitha Tohill-Reid & Joshua Green, Virginia Verran, Belinda Whiting, Lucy Willow, Sandi Williams, Gillian Wylde.

EVENT: FRIDAY 8 January 11.00 – 12.30 Café Morte | The Falmouth School of Art | The Project Space, Falmouth Campus.

‘Lost for words’ – open discussion led by the curatorial team.

Limited to 30 places.

Reserve your free tickets by following the link below:

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/cafe-morte-discussion-lost-for-words-tickets-19864278592

CAFE MORTE is a pop up research group established at Falmouth University in 2014.  Inspired by the recent surge of death cafes across Europe, our aim is to identify themes and ideas relating to death and dying, mourning, transience, ritual and how these translate into contemporary art practice.

Café Morte’s Lost for Words exhibition is a collaborative project with MOTH, a research group which, through the discipline of Graphic Design, explores visual language associated with death and end-of-life experiences – creating visual ‘toolkits’ (analogue and digital) as devices for change in attitudes, conventions and context surrounding death issues.

You may also be interested in:

MOTH Talks: In the face of death – 8 January 2016 | Falmouth Campus, Fox 4 Lecture Theatre, 1.30pm-5pm

Guest Speakers:

Stephen Cave |Writer, critic and philosopher, Immortality: The Quest to Live Forever and How It Drives Civilization (2013, Biteback)

Prof. Tony Walter | Head of the CDAS, (Centre for Death and Society at Bath University) Sociologist

Joseph Macleod | Designer, Closure Experiences

Reserve your free tickets:

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/moth-talks-in-the-face-of-death-tickets-19781523068

 

Lucy Willow: Research and Residency – Iceland

IMG_5241On 7th December I arrived in the remote village of Stoovarfjorour, East Fjords of Iceland at the old fish factory to start a three-week artist residency. There was a call out to the villagers on the day that I was arrived to see if anyone could pick me up from the airport two hours away. It is remote. I was met by an Icelandic writer who was staying in the neighbouring village looking after his father’s horses. He came to collect me with the promise that he would be rewarded with a good meal at the end of his long round trip.

While here I plan to host a series of coffee mornings where participants will be invited to share stories relating to Icelandic death rites and ceremonies. The project develops current research with the group Café Morte (pop up research group) looking at the way in which visual culture represents death and dying, mourning and grieving through art, dreams, desires, imagery and poetry. This is my plan.  Currently my interpreter is stuck in snow in Reykjavik where all flights have been cancelled due to the bad weather, so there is a certain amount of having to re-think and work around the weather conditions here.

IMG_5238The village sits in one of Iceland’s Eastern Fjords with mountains covered in snow rising up on each side. It has a population of 150 people that rely heavily on fishing to make a living. The residency space is in an old fish factory; a huge rambling building that is an Aladdin’s cave of potential materials. It is full of old bits of machinery and junk that have been saved and salvaged stored in vast warehouse spaces in the factory. Part of the building has been renovated and has a concert hall where the villagers get together and local bands play. This is also where Café Morte coffee morning will take place. I have the ingredients to bake some cheese scones, which I am hoping will entice the community to take part.

The studio is purpose built, warm and if I stand on tip toe  can just glimpse a view of the mountains. The mornings are dark. I am getting to really enjoy the sunrise at 10.33 am, the changing light and how it falls on the snow at the top of the mountain. I have been here for three days drawing and gathering information from my surroundings that  will be incorporated into a new body of work. A tin shack, black pools of water, dust storms and containers are emerging to form the beginnings of a new symbolic language  explored through drawing. I am finding it interesting to see how I map my imagined Iceland onto the real. I hope to then use film, sound and narrative from the Café Morte session to create an installation in one of the fish factory warehouses.

One thing I can be sure of this year is a white Christmas.

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