Nature’s Art @ Science World

There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society, where none intrudes,
By the deep sea, and music in its roar…

Lord Byron leads a chorus of artists who look to nature for direct inspiration and creative space. ‘There are always flowers for those who want to see them,’ wrote Henri Matisse in Jazz, his 1947 limited edition art book. ‘An artist must possess Nature. He must identify himself with her rhythm, by efforts that will prepare the mastery which will later enable him to express himself in his own language.’

Right now, Science World is running an interactive exhibit featuring Numbers and Patterns in Nature. How do spirals, the Golden Ratio, Voronoi patterns, fractal branching influence our perceptions, our emotions, our creative instincts, our buildings and our art?

Included in the Numbers and Patterns exhibit are two nature-inspired artworks. Maquette for Seed is a bronze model of the 70 ton granite sculpture Peter Randall-Page created for Eden Park, an  eco-theme park based in England.

“I have always been fascinated by plant geometry,” Randall-Page says. “One of the most interesting … is spiral phyllotaxis; plants ‘use’ it because of its ability to pack things together in the most efficient way possible… in the arrangement of seeds on the head of a sunflower … pine and fir cones, pineapples, daisies and many other fruit, seeds and seed heads.”

In High Contrast, artist-mathematicians Erik and Martin Demaine show us how they tackle mathematical puzzles with origami.

The major feature of the show is Mirror Maze, beautifully constructed by The Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago. See how quickly you can wind yourself from one end to the other of this 1800 square feet of tessellation, repetition, symmetry and mirrored triangles. Will you get stuck in dead ends or discover the secret rooms with mirror-hidden bonus puzzles?

Picasso, who was both friend and deep rival of Matisse, will be pleased to get the last word. ‘You cannot go against nature. She is stronger than the strongest of men. We can permit ourselves some liberties, but in details only.’

Picasso. Girl Before a Mirror. 1932

Written by Elizabeth Newton

Header: Henri Matisse. Memory of Oceania. 1952-53


Kassandra Taylor


The Blumenthal Room

Elizabeth Newton

Elizabeth Newton