When Science inspires Art

Science and art make for curious bedfellows. The former requires the parts of the brain that deal with rational thought and logical conclusion whereas art is less concerned with such lucid notions and dwells into more uncertain realms on the peripheries of the mind. Despite the opposition, art can happily be inspired by science. The collection of Buxton Museum contains work by local artist Dianne Elsworth. Dianne’s collages contain objects like test tubes and glass slides and ponder the scientific need for collection, understanding and classification. Two of her works sit permanently in the museum and they do not look out of place amongst the facts and artefacts.

Exhibit E (our trees are so precious that we number them) by Dianne Elsworth

Exhibit E (our trees are so precious that we number them) by Dianne Elsworth

Field Trip 1918 by Dianne Elsworth

Field Trip 1918 by Dianne Elsworth

Our current exhibition in gallery 1 by artist Geoff Machin is called Intriguing Geometry (until 11 June). Geoff is inspired by the complexity of mathematics and its ability to compose curious interlocking shapes and patterns. His work toys with the eye and reaches into the recesses of human perception.

Through Yellow by Geoff Machin

Through Yellow by Geoff Machin

Gallery 2 is home to an exhibition by artist Barbara Bristow (until 13 July) and she is also inspired by science. Barbara takes on some hefty intellectual concepts including creation myths, chemical reaction, chance verses design and the nature of the cosmos! However, as Barbara herself admits, her work is slightly tongue in cheek. This playful inquiry also includes a soundtrack.

Barbara Bristow and the blogger and her work "Initial"

Barbara Bristow and the blogger and her work “Initial”

Buxton Museum’s mermaid can also be seen as an example of science inspiring art but we can only speculate on who made this glorious creature and their motive for doing so.

The Wellcome Collection gifted a Mermaid and a Merman to the Horniman Museum in 1982. The Horniman Museum transferred the Mermaid to Derbyshire Museums Service; describing her as the “second best” of the two at the time. A few years ago, we had the mermaid tested and discovered that she was made from a diversity of materials, including wood, cloth, wire, carved bone, fish scales, snails for eyes and protein glue for skin. Nice!

Buxton Museum mermaid

Buxton Museum mermaid

Pay us a visit and find some inspiration of your own, be it scientific or artistic or a blend of the two!

Please note that the images used in this blog are the property and copyright of the artist or Buxton Museum and Art Gallery so please email us at buxton.museum@derbyshire.gov.uk should you wish to use them.

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