Tuesday, 25 November 2014
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Beauty is the First Test

For many of us, maths was a lot of things – taxing, confusing, boring, a good excuse for writing ‘boobless’ on a calculator.

Janette Matthews, Optical Circles

Janette Matthews, Optical Circles

Others, however, have seen that it can actually be something rather beautiful.

Lesley Halliwell

Source: Photo by Daniel Weil

Lesley Halliwell

It’s this principle of finding the beauty in mathematics that underpins the forthcoming exhibition at Lincolnshire’s National Centre for Craft & Design, Beauty is the First Test.

The show’s title is taken from a 1940 essay by mathematician G H Hardy, in which he states, ‘The mathematician’s patterns, like the painter’s or the poet’s, must be beautiful.

‘The ideas, like the colours or the words must fit together in a harmonious way. Beauty is the first test: there is no permanent place in the world for ugly mathematics.’

Lucy McMullen

Lucy McMullen

Casting our minds back to our scrawled GCSE exercise books, this is perhaps where this writer went wrong. Those doodles, while imaginative, were anything but beautiful.

The group show explores how mathematical concepts underpin craft techniques, aiming to ‘demystify a subject that intimates both adults and children’, according to the centre.

Oscillator R 2, Suresh Dutt

Source: c Suresh Dutt

Oscillator R 2, Suresh Dutt

The exhibition demonstrates how mathematics is the foundation of activities such as knitting, stitching, measuring and cutting that are crucial to crafting and fabrication.

Stella Harding, Archefossil

Stella Harding, Archefossil

Showcasing works in disciplines including textiles and sculpture, the show will feature work from artists including Michael Brennand-Wood, Janice Gunner, Lucy McMullen and Ann Sutton.

Michael Brennan Wood, Wasn't Born To Follow, 2004

Michael Brennan Wood, Wasn’t Born To Follow, 2004

Alongside the visual proof that maths can indeed be fun – and pretty – the exhibition also presents case studies of five makers, including Gail Baxter and Margo Selby,  exploring how the development of their work was furthered by an understanding and appreciation of mathematics.

Peter Randall-Page, Maquette for Seed

Peter Randall-Page, Maquette for Seed

Beauty is the First Test runs form 27 April – 30 June at The National Centre for Craft & Design, Navigation Wharf, Carre Street, Sleaford, Lincolnshire NG34

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