Saturday, June 14, 2008

Portraits of macular degeneration

Artist Adam Hahn is exhibiting work resulting from his year-long research of how the vision is affected of people suffering from the common eye disease, macular degeneration. He worked with opthalmologist Professor Pete Coffey and used data from the Moorfields Eye Hospital. But mostly he talked to his sitters. The project is important in that Hahn found that medical textbooks often misrepresent the vision loss that patients experience, describing it as a black hole rather then the graduated blurring effect that Hahn has managed to capture. His method was to use photographs initially, digitally manipulating them and showing them to the sitters (who often still have good peripheral vision) to verify that it accurately represents the way they see. He then paints the portraits on canvas. Hahn and Coffey were interviewed on Radio 4's Front Row on Thursday 12 June, and the programme is available on Listen Again for a week.

The paintings are on show until 17 July 2008 at the Macalls Gallery, Paddock Wood, Kent.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Patterns crystallise in new exhibition at Wellcome Trust

The Wellcome Collection has a super little exhibition on how crystallography has influenced art and design. Built around the work of the 'Festival Pattern Group', the exhibition features design products for the 1951 Festival of Britain that were inspired by the kaleidoscope-like diffraction patterns of X-ray crystallography.

My visit fortuitously coincided with a very interesting talk by Bonnie Ann Wallace, professor of Molecular Biophysics at Birkbeck, who explained why crystallography lends itself so well to artistic interpretation. Professor Wallace had brought along some props from her lab which helped to demonstrate trends in crystallography -- how it has moved from drawing and 3D modelling to computer imaging.

The objects on display range from wallpaper inspired by the crystalline structure of insulin to carpet designs and crockery. Intriguing is a beautiful evening gown worn by the wife of crystallography pioneer, Sir Lawrence Bragg. It is embroidered with the hexagonal patterns of Beryl minerals.

'From Atoms to Patterns' runs at the Wellcome Collection on Euston Road, London, until 10 August 2008. If you can't make it in person, the exhibition website is packed with information.