Issue 10 March 2015

On Theme and Variation

The ways in which the author, the sculptor Peter Randall-Page, has made use of the ideas of D’Arcy Thompson are described. How Thompson showed that commonalities of form and pattern exist across the biological and abiotic realms is described, and the implications that physical constraints limit and sometimes dominate the capabilities of evolutionary natural selection are explored. Since we evolved in a world shaped in this manner, the likelihood that this palette of forms is one that carries strong psychological meanings and associations is examined, and the ways in which these forms are a rich source of inspiration and allusion for visual artists are discussed, hinting at the play of opposing tendencies, the dance between order and randomness, and the ways in which nature can derive variations on a theme.

The Infinite Possibilities of Line

Artist, Maureen McQuillan, explores aspects of growth and unpredictability, repetition, replication and imperfection in the process and activity of drawing itself. Her work has often been compared to scientific imagery and encoding but paradoxically results from simple means. As she has stated, “I do not believe it is necessary to sacrifice working by hand in order to reflect my interest in the way technology has shaped, changed and enriched the way we see the world.”

Colour-Form Abstraction

Roy Osborne is an artist, educator and writer. He was twice Chairman of the Colour Group GB and the first recipient of its Turner Medal (2003). Since 1978 he has presented some 2,000 lectures at 200 institutions worldwide and contributed to over 100 group exhibitions and several solo shows. In 1989 he curated a touring exhibition, From Prism to Paintbox: Colour Theory and Practice in Modern British Painting. He is author of a number of books on colour and colour theory, including Lights and Pigments (1980) and Color Influencing Form (2004) – (see Library section for more publications).

Random Art

John D Barrow is a Fellow of the Royal Society and has been Professor of Mathematical Sciences at the University of Cambridge since 1999, carrying out research in mathematical physics, with special interest in cosmology, gravitation, and particle physics. He is the author of over 420 articles and 19 books, translated in 28 languages, a number of which deal with the relationship between art, maths and science. This article is taken from his latest book ‘100 Essential Things You Didn’t Know You Didn’t Know About Maths and the Arts’.

The Chaotic Universe

In 1990, artists, scientists, spiritual leaders and economists gathered in the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam to explore the emerging paradigm of a holistic world view and the implications for a global economy in a seminal conference called ‘Art Meets Science and Spirituality in a Changing Economy’. ‘The Chaotic Universe’ is the second film in the series of recordings of the event. In this fascinating tape, composer/artist John Cage, thermodynamic physicist Ilya Prigogine, and philosopher/comparative religion teacher Huston Smith are interviewed.

Open Letter to the Tate

“This letter was sent to Dr Penelope Curtis, director of Tate Britain, on 6 December 2014. Although addressing what I see as problems with that particular gallery display, I believe the issues raised have a much wider application, not only in the visual arts but in a wider cultural setting. And I believe they are of profound importance”. Garry Kennard


Susan Derges has established an international reputation through her practice involving cameraless, lens-based, digital and reinvented photographic processes, encompassing subject matter informed by the physical and biological sciences as well as landscape and abstraction. Her art comprises an ongoing enquiry into the relationship of the self to the observed.