Science isn’t my thing. Never was. It boggles and baffles me. So when I went to the Hayward Gallery’s ‘The Art and Craft of Saving the World’ event, billed as a cross-over event between art, craft and science, science was the last thing on my mind.
crocheted coral name badge by rockpoolcandy
Imagine my surprise coming away from the day understanding what a hyperbolic plane is, and being able to understand why mathematicians say that maths is a beautiful thing, or the difference between the essential composition of a living thing and a non-living thing. Yet I did. And I revelled in it.
My motivation for going along
was as part of a project I’m putting together next year exploring DIY crafts.
As part of the research for this I’d come across the aspect of communities, in
real and virtual worlds, working together to share their love of craft.
An example of this was the Institute of Figuring's "I've got a coral reef
too" project. It started off as a chance discovery of the mathematician Dr
Daina Taimina’s crocheted model of a hyperbolic plane. It bore uncanny
resemblance to coral. The Institute of Figuring had been
doing something similar as part of their aims to communicate science in more
accessible, visual, tactile and other ways. Margaret and Christine Wertheim,
founders and co-ordinators of the Institute of Figuring contacted Dr Daina
Taimina and started a journey of discovery of crotchetiers across the world;
each separately, slowly and beautifully creating their own coral. The result is
a stunning touring exhibition and ongoing series of projects showcasing the
A lovely lady called Amber who helped me with my crochet
Having got over my science fear, I should also own up that crochet was never my bag. I love it as baby blankets and have two I cherish. Other than that I never really got crochet, I can’t explain why but it didn’t light my fire. Until now.
Rachel Matthews helps Dr Mark Miodownik get hooked
Amongst the day’s proceedings, just before lunch, was a quick session in which the whole room learned to crochet. Everyone. Scientists, mathematicians, artists, funders, students and all. Including me. I am addicted. After row 1 I felt pleased I’d picked it up. By row 3 it became clear how easy it was to create a piece of coral and follow the metabolic plane theory. By row 11 I found myself asking the workshop co-ordinator if I could borrow the hook for the three-hour train journey home.
The room learns to crochet - or at least those who couldn't already