Pelton wheel earns its stripes

The Pelton wheel shown below is part of the Hubble Bubble sculpture which we are building at Exeter Uni – and in this image it’s really going some. The red stripes seen against the flying water (there’s a hint of green stripes too) are from the LED lights that illuminate the sculpture …. flow viz and light viz all at once; what more could I wish for …


‘Red stripes’


End-of-year exhibition!

Below are details of my exhibition which starts at the end of next week. It is called ‘…the pattern is new in every moment’, a quote from T.S.Eliot.

Most of the pieces on display reflect my year-long collaboration with the scientists, engineers and technicians who work at the Harrison Building at Exeter University. Many of the photographic images and videos I show are a direct outcome of this collaboration, and form a record of the development of my work throughout the year. In addition to my main collaboration with members of Harrison, I’ve also made some contact with other departments and individuals throughout the Uni. Very many thanks to all those who have helped me to get my projects underway.

In this exhibition I explore how pattern changes through transformation, modification, self-embellishment, superimposition and decay. I also give examples of how the language of patterning can work across different scales and different media – ink combined with water in slow and fast flows, and glass combined with light. I also include my prizewinning images of work carried out in the Fluids Lab at Harrison. You can read about my latest prize win at the College of Engineering Maths and Physical Sciences website

If you’re in the area, please drop in and take a look … hope you enjoy it if you do see it!


End-of-year exhibition poster

Beautiful spatial objects

Spaceships…diatoms…these beautiful nested buckyballs (a ball within a ball) have been kindly loaned by CALM at Exeter University and will form part of my Hubble Bubble sculpture. The LED lights can define the inner forms and can help us to appreciate their complexity.


Fire within


Cosmic geometry


Snowflakes and beyond

2012 Next Big Idea Science and Math Art Competition, Grand Prize Winner!

I’m delighted to say that I have won First Prize at the 2012 Next Big Idea Science and Math Competition held at Los Alamos! I was also very pleased to win another prize for Visual Interest & Impact Judges Choice Recognition. Very many thanks to everyone who supported my work. It was a great contest, requiring some explanatory writing to accompany the images which I really enjoyed. My two images ‘A part thereof’ and ‘Fly by light’ are posted below. ‘A part thereof’ was created at Exeter Uni Fluids Lab earlier this year – read about it below. ‘Fly by Light’ was created at home.

Click on these links for details of the competition on Facebook and at the Next Big Idea Festival website


‘A part thereof’

‘A part thereof’ is an image which I created at Exeter University Fluids Lab, where I’m just completing a year as Artist-in residence funded by the Leverhulme Trust. A record of my work at the Lab can be found here in my journal pages. This image captures the eye because it has echoes of organic forms, yet it is clearly not a picture of a life-form. From the way it undulates and from the leg-like protrusions from the ‘body’, it looks as if it could be part of an exotic giant caterpillar, and yet we know nothing like this could actually exist in nature. The ‘legs’ could also be the bifurcating stems of plants; there is ambiguity in the form. The form is real and yet not real – that too is an ambiguous aspect; and ambiguity will always catch the imagination.

This image is a way of ‘joining the dots’ between forms created in fluid dynamics and forms found in the living world. I believe there is a universal language of patterning that can be expressed in terms of fluid flow, and which echoes what we see around us. The title ‘A part thereof’ refers to the image showing part of the whole large caterpillar-like structure. In addition, the title refers to the fact that this kind of patterning is part of a larger, more universal story. The scientific principle behind this image is that this form exists because it has evolved in this way – its shape is a record of its own creation. Watching the patterns develop reminded me of the theories expounded by D’Arcy Thompson in his book ‘On Growth and Form’. The process here depends on the different viscosities of ink/water in combination with viscous milk. Ink/water is placed on a smooth surface, and the milk is added. The ink and water make ‘inroads’ into the surface of the retracting milk, causing the kind of patterning we see in this image. This is a gradual process during which we see the form ‘evolving’ – this image is taken a few minutes after the start of the process. You can see examples of the process in a recent collaborative video,


‘Fly by light’

‘Fly by light’, with its interwoven ribbons folding over and under each other, is reminiscent of an organic form floating across space. If we follow the ribbons as they move in front and behind each other, they appear to do so in a way that is not physically possible – as if they occupy an ‘impossible’ space governed by more than three dimensions. This ‘impossibility’ captures the attention in the same way that an optical illusion would. The linear complexity and the ever-changing colors both cause our eye to move across the image, always seeing something new. The image is original and innovative because it shows something that we cannot see with the naked eye; it can only be seen with the camera. It captures an ephemeral quality, moving beyond concrete form – here towards a unique expression of light and movement. In the picture there is no evidence of the glass used; only the shapes which it produces when combined with light. Without light and the digital camera, this image would not exist; it is ephemeral, yet tangible at the same time – and in this sense it is inextricably linked with its surroundings. Iridescent glass is allowed to reflect upon a bumpy glass surface, where it splits into different colors and produces a series of caustics – envelopes of the light echoing the uneven forms of the glass. The ribbons and shapes in these images are diffraction artifacts which stretch in different ways according to the glass surface. The shapes always have a set of parallel lines at their edges, (like the typical octagonal lens flare shape). The resulting shapes and patterns are therefore a combination of light, glass and an inner view of the digital camera. They shift and change according to angle and light.

New ‘Hubble’ pictures

We did a lot of work yesterday at Exeter Uni on the new sculpture ‘Hubble Bubble’ which is being created for my end-of-year exhibition. By the end of the day it was running really well, and now needs some fine adjustments. Here are two images from it, both showing a Pelton wheel.


Spin Driven Thing


Pelton in coloured light

Lights across the bay

‘Hubble Bubble’, the sculpture we’re building at Exeter Uni is coming on apace, and looking more beautiful every day. Acrylic and LED lights make a wonderful combination. Here are some views of the illuminations taken earlier. The first one also reminds me of one of my favourite films, Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey”.


‘Across the bay’


‘Down at the docks’


‘Promenade perspectives’

taking a light break

I’ve been up to the eyes in mirror plates and other preparations for my end-of-year exhibition at Exeter Uni, but took a little bit of time today to do a few light pictures – here are a couple, including one which reminds me a lot of the liquid tornados I was doing a month or so back.

‘Paradise bird’




New vortices and a liquid forest

As I go through my images … often looking for something else, I often come across things which I like to share.

Here are a few examples taken in recent weeks. Hope you enjoy them!


Cooking up a galactic storm with ‘Galaxy Egg: cosmic bubblestream machine’


‘New feathers’


‘Beneath stormy clouds’


‘The rough with the smooth’

Textural mimicry

As is often the case, I’ve been finding that everything I photograph has an ambiguous aspect to it. Plastic looks like water, bubbles look like honeycomb, flowers appear unexpectedly out of nowhere and draining flow looks like tree roots or neurons. Glass looks like water and ink resembles clouds … and so on. Below are a few examples.

The bubbles were photographed a few weeks ago in a prototype sculpture, built at Exeter Uni, and I’m hoping to capture similar effects in the current sculpture project “Hubble Bubble” which is also being built there by the workshop. The image ‘Liquid Plastic Flow’ is an abstract of part of the sculpture. I am photographing parts of the sculpture as it is being built.

The final image, ‘Cloud Echoes’ was taken at today’s Open Day event at the Uni. In the Fluids Lab I showed visitors the effects of ink placed in slow flow around a cylinder. It was good to chat to everyone! – a really enjoyable event.


‘Light rain’


‘liquid plastic flow’


‘Bubble honeycomb’


‘Botanical illustration’


‘Can you feel that’


‘Cloud Echoes’

Beautiful materials

I am currently collaborating with several members of Exeter Uni to build an acrylic sculpture for my end-of-year exhibition in October … and today, saw some parts of it completed, including these beautiful cylinders with their obliquely angled tops. The curves of the acrylic performed some magic with the reflections of the workshop lights; and I managed to capture a few pictures prior to the assembly of the cylinders.

More on this exciting project soon!


‘Sections and reflections’


‘Optical illusions’


‘Organic reflections’