Sculpting with Light

This project is supported by The Leverhulme Trust who have awarded me with a grant to be artist in residence at Durham University during the summer of 2017, hosted by Ushaw College. This collaboration is concerned with light, sound, colour and the order of the cosmos.

The residency, 'Sculpting with Light: Medieval and Modern Cosmology' confronts human attempts to grasp and master the structure and meaning of the universe. Inspired by Durham’s resources, from illuminated medieval manuscripts to the DiRac2-Super-Computer, I am investigating the world of medieval cosmology from Aristotle to Dante, via Islamic astronomy, in conjunction with the cutting edge of modern galaxy modelling and soft matter physics and material-flow.

I am exploring key themes of medieval and modern cosmology within the project. The central importance of light to the universe in both periods, the notion of power and movement within the heavens, the importance of geometry in establishing sense of place, and ideas about unity and complexity, order and disorder, structure and entropy. Medieval and modern cosmologies have very different premises, but an underlying interest in order, mathematical explanation, and a powerful sense of the incredible scale of the universe.

In addition, I am working with Professor Richard Bower at the ICC and Professor Tom McLeish in the Department of Physics. Bower’s major research is on Galaxy modelling, the central elements to which are a visualisation of the components of the universe, dark matter, dark energy, light, stars and galaxies. McLeish, meanwhile, is an expert on soft matter physics, and on how materials flow (rheology), providing new lines of thought on the manipulation of media.

I am also be working in collaboration with the University of Sunderland, National Glass Centre, Dr Cate Watkinson and Dr Colin Rennie, of the Department of Glass and Ceramics, and their undergraduate and postgraduate students. A film of the project, titled 'Through a Glass Darkly', will be made by film-maker Alan Fentiman.