Exploring interconnections of order and chaos

“I am an emerging artist living in Cambridgeshire. Due to circumstances involving one of my children and a traumatic brain injury, I began my current practice as a way to cope with the neurological rehabilitation that has consumed family life. This experience feeds heavily into my artistic process.”

Katherine Gravett has worked in collaboration with neuroscientists in Cambridge and her work has been exhibited in artistic, scientific and therapeutic settings.

There’s no way around it; life is chaotic. We all have our own ways of making sense of the world no matter who we are or where we come from. Trying to find the meaningful in randomness is part of the human condition. We are driven to make sense of our surroundings and the events within them in order to cope with and learn from our experience. Some look to science, others to religion, some search the cosmos and others the internal processes and inner workings of the mind.

My interest and fascination lives within artistic and scientific endeavours. My drawing practice is an exploration of the interactions and interconnectedness of order and chaos.

Katherine Gravett: Branch

Katherine Gravett: Nebulous

Katherine Gravett: Jaggedly

Katherine Gravett: Empathy

It took a while to start drawing again after my 11 year old son was catastrophically injured. My work changed. At that time, it was futile to plan anything further forward than an hour, so I started drawing fractals. Fractals are familiar because we see these infinitely complex patterns in nature.

Who and what are we but our own perceptions, our emotions, our experiences and memories? The process that occurs between asleep and awake could be described as cacophony, through to chorus and finally, to consciousness. During sleep, our unconscious mind produces dreams as our body rests. These often feel very real; our bodies are still but our brains are producing imagery and emotion. Purely functioning rhythms of the body happening automatically during sleep whilst dreaming; cacophony. The process of waking, with the mind shifting its perceptions from what was ‘unreal’ in the unconscious world to ‘real’ of the outside world; chorus. The state of awareness in which we consider ourselves as alive, alert, aware of our surroundings and in control of our decisions; consciousness.

Katherine Gravett: Consciousness

Chaos is the science of surprises. Whilst I began to explore a variety of themes, like consciousness or stem cell repair in brain injury, I was curiously unable to get a preconceived idea of how an artwork will look until it was finished. I started to use what I learned from my experiments, like watching dendritic patterns or nebulous clouds occur, either from drawing fractals until I ran out of paper or whilst mixing ink, water, alcohol, caffeine, silicone and anything else I could find. It was through this process that I discovered the scientific theories of complexity, emergence and consciousness.

Katherine Gravett: Stop-Gap

Katherine Gravett: Cross-Section

Katherine Gravett: Disintegration

Inktober project – a prompt a day to create an artwork:-

Katherine Gravett: Tranquil

Katherine Gravett: Scorch

Katherine Gravett: Roasted

Katherine Gravett: Demyelination

Sometimes I start in the middle and work my way out until the marks fall away or become to small  for me to draw. Imagine, if you will, a deep breath before the plunge, a star about to explode, your patience wearing thin. The tangible and the intangible as far as a theme goes, but the drawing is the result of exploring a chaotic, yet somehow recognisable state – an imminent change, an impending event. Something inevitable. You know that if you drop something, it will fall. Our brains perceive slow motion during a threat response. Everything changes, moving from one state to another. This is the case in physics, chemistry, biology. This is the case socially, psychologically and economically. These are the thoughts that tumble through my brain when I’m watching a documentary video of a star collapsing.

Katherine Gravett: Tension

In this work entitled Tension, the battle was ongoing until the very last moment when I sliced off a third of the paper and rotated the composition to the left.

I had dropped iridescent ink onto the paper, tilting my drawing board to manoeuvre the medium. As a result, the composition changes depending on which direction the light comes from. I worked in fractal patterns and tiny marks with fine liner pens and colour pencil, in accordance with the shapes that the ink and sediments had left me. This was neither a pretty process, nor, at this point a pretty picture.

When conditions changed for me, so too did the drawing. I could neither resolve nor restart, so the fractal would twist and turn, becoming loose or tight depending on either position of the ink blot or the mood that I was in that day. Embossing began to occur because I hadn’t noticed that I’d worn the pen down and I was working into the paper itself.

As can be observed in the natural world, the conditions at hand shape the circumstances that follow, so I went with it and incorporated the technique into the work. Pressure and tension became more and more evident in the imagery you see here, both literally and figuratively speaking, and in the areas of the highest pressure and tightest fractal, there contain small points of white light.

My practice enables me to draw my way through my intellectual pursuits and my emotional experience simultaneously.

Katherine Gravett: Trajectory

In this piece Trajectory there is a direction and there is momentum. The destination seems clear and straightforward once the course has been charted. This was the current thought  process I was exploring at the time. There are moments in our personal lives, throughout human history, ecologically and out in space where a major event or a large obstacle will unexpectedly manifest, and the previous course, or what is left of it, has been interrupted, disturbed, dissipated, and in some areas, utterly dissolved. My practice enables me to draw my way through my intellectual pursuits and my emotional experience simultaneously.

The area of disturbance itself; the event that has caused the multi faceted outcomes that follow, sits first as an intruder in a once tranquil environment before eventually becoming an integral part of it.

Katherine Gravett: Eddy

Katherine Gravett: Eddy (close up)

It’s incredible how you see the same patterns and processes under the microscope, with the naked eye, and through a telescope.

I find it astonishing how the intricacies and the complexity of both the human brain and the vast oceans of our planet still leave so much to be discovered.

Art and science, for me at least, are intrinsically linked. I explore and learn about one by reading about or doing the other using a mindful, flexible and intuitive process.

Katherine Gravett: Stem Cells and Gene Therapy




All images copyright and courtesy of Katherine Gravett


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