Sculpting with Light

This project is supported by The Leverhulme Trust who have awarded me with a grant to be Artist in Residence to the Ordered Universe project during the summer of 2017. This collaboration is concerned with light, sound, colour and the order of the cosmos. The Ordered Universe Project first came to my attention at a lecture I attended at the Royal Society titled 'The 13th Century Theory of Everything'. The project is a multidisciplinary project headed by Dr Giles Gasper and Professor Tom McLeish of Durham University, investigating medieval science through the scientific works of English thinker Robert Grossesteste (c.1170-1253).

The residency, 'Sculpting with Light: Medieval and Modern Cosmology' will confront 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 will investigate 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.

Key themes of medieval and modern cosmology will be explored 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 will work 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 will also be working in collaboration with the University of Sunderland, National Glass Centre. Members of the Ordered Universe will be working with 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.