Art and science are ‘human efforts to comprehend and describe the world around us and our experience of it’. The one ‘searches for truth in subjective experience and the other in objective reality.’ Julius Colwyn describes the differing approaches to truth of art and science in terms that would also fit religion, concluding that it is in the rift ‘between subjective experience and the objective reality where ‘art’ manifests.’
Produced by the interdisciplinary artists studying at Central Saint Martins, RIFT brings together 17 artists deriving from varied scientific disciplines including bio-design, parasitology, astronomy, anatomy, neuroscience and more. RIFT channels these concepts and theories through sculpture, performance, paintings and play in an interactive experience involving conceptual sciences, positive social change and sensory stimulation.
The pioneering MA Art and Science degree course at Central Saint Martins, which was the first of its kind, has provided a unique global platform for students across a wide range of fields to investigate the creative relationships between art and science and how to communicate them.
Lois Bentley’s practice is about being with, hidden voices, endurance, resilience, working in metal, dismantling and mantling – in order to find a place to stand. Her work ‘Health and Safety (K Space): Tears Finding Form’ is a metal sculpture formed into a hexagonal pyramid of six steel panels, suspended in space by a ship’s rope. Each panel is a collage of moments that chart the artist’s research on this course, showing and hiding where she stands now.
In RIFT her work is shown alongside pieces by Hannah Pratt and Lottie Bolster. Pratt is particularly interested in astrophysics and how we view the universe, using deep space spectroscopy, star cataloguing, star classification and history of science. She has created graphics scores within a large scale mural and is working with a singer who will respond to her neutron star song cycle.
Bolster’s practice originates from her background in clinical neuroscience, developed through insights from social psychology. It concerns the frameworks through which we perceive one another in the face of aging, illness and disability. By presenting metaphor and personal narrative, viewers are given space to consider the presuppositions through which we view the world and its inhabitants. Her work ’On growing’ is a participatory piece in celebration of life beyond youth.
Bentley also has work in an exhibition at St Martin-in-the-Fields, where she is again using personal photographic collages on triangular pieces of sheet steel. In the first half of the St Martin’s exhibition, she hung the three triangular steel sheets strung out in a line alongside each other with the points of each triangle facing down. In this configuration, which she called ‘Three hanging,’ they reminded viewers of the three crosses on Calvary; the central triangle showing imagery related to its title, ‘Bruised’. For the second part of the exhibition, she re-shaped and re-organised the piece. It is now called ‘Re-United’ and the principal change is that she has hung the middle triangle point upwards to indicate that Christ’s work on the cross is finished and the Trinity are restored to their coherent whole. The colour yellow now appears as the Spring of resurrection dawns.
Colwyn notes that the group of which these students are part is characterised by the kinds of enquiry which cannot be understood from a fixed perspective and by questions that defy categorisation. By melding personal imagery with elements of science and religion, we are taken into liminal spaces in which compelling beauty and uncomfortable challenge combine.
Words: Revd Jonathan Evens Associate Vicar, Partnership Development – St Martin-in-the-Fields © Artlyst 2019
RIFT is at Central Saint Martins until 26 May 2019