Alexandra Carr

Alexandra is an artist working with patterns in nature, natural processes and phenomena. Trained at Central Saint Martins School of Art and Design and Camberwell College of Art (Ceramics), she has exhibited work at the Fondation Cartier in Paris, in collaboration with Jean-Paul Gaultier, worked at galleries including Tate Britain, and as a model maker for Sir Norman Foster. A varied range of commissions include pieces for Radiohead; competitions include a shortlisted piece for the Arts@CERN COLLIDE International Award. Her practice is predominantly science based and experimental in nature and includes drawing, sculpture, kinetic works, photography and video. Of particular focus is the boundary between art, science and technology.

Connections with Ordered Universe began in 2015 when she attended a talk given by Brian Tanner and Giles Gasper at the Royal Society as part of Open House London. This led to a rich and on-going engagement with the project and it’s blending of modern and medieval science. Alexandra is a regular within the core team, attending symposia and creating connections with other media, artists, and material. This inspired an on-going series of prints and drawings using the various treatises on natural phenomena: On ColourOn LightOn the Sphere, On the Six Differentiae (that is up, down, left, right, front and back) and On the Rainbow.

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A Leverhulme Trust Artistic Residency, Sculpting with Light, with Giles Gasper  followed, held at Durham University. The residency, housed at Ushaw College, took the form of a wide-ranging collaboration with medieval and modern cosmology. Among scientific colleagues connected to the residency were Brian Tanner, Tom McLeish, Mark Neyrinck and Margarita Staykova; from the medieval side Giles, Annalisa Cippollone, Sigbjørn Sønnesyn and Tom Henderson.

Sculpting with Light was extremely productive. In the magnificent surroundings of Ushaw College, at the Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle, and at Pembroke College in Oxford, Alexandra developed a series of installations using light and translucent media: Lux Obscura, Ether, and Lux Mundi.


In addition Alexandra produced a series of light paintings Age of Light with ready volunteers from the North-East, on a rather chilly September night. These work, again, with the themes of cosmology, motion and light. These pieces featured as part of two exhibitions, at the Cambridge e-Luminate Festival in 2018 and as part of Light Embodied at Pembroke College, University of Oxford.


The final, and largest piece, produced from the residency was a delicate and beautiful, sculptural re-imagining of the medieval cosmos. Empyrean models the universe as conceived by medieval thinkers – the earth at the centre surrounded by concentric spheres for each of the planets (including the sun), to the fixed stars and firmament. Grosseteste in his treatise On the Sphere describes the physical universe in terms of spherical geometry and in On Light proposes a more detailed model for how the spheres of the universe came to be formed through the action and activity of light. Medieval thinkers operating theologically also developed the notion of the heavenly realm, also composed of different zones of increasing perfection up to the face of God. This, the Empyrean, was depicted outside the physical spheres of the universe, made most famous perhaps in Dante’s poetic vision in Paradise the third part of Divine ComedyEmpyrean consisted of 2,342 holes, 1,171 cables, 2km + steel wire and 3,960 beads (1,980 of which are hand painted). It formed part of an exhibition on Dante at Palace Green Library in Durham, 2017-18, and is currently on display at Ushaw College. It is a dazzling piece.


Alexandra continues to work with Ordered Universe, producing for the project’s international conference in April 2018 another installation Suspensio. This overlays two treatises by Grosseteste, that On Light and that On Colour. The result is a fine and delicate structure whose shape and colour change with the light.

Alongside her artistic output, Alexandra has presented papers for academic and public audiences drawing on her experiences within the Ordered Universe team. These include the Universities of Durham, Cambridge and Oxford, Trinity College Dublin and MIT. In addition Alexandra is a keen supporter of public activities and events including the Being Human Festival of Humanities 2016 in Durham and the Napa Lighted Art Festival in January 2019.

Back in the North-East of England now, Alexandra is for 2019 Artist in Residence at Josephine Butler College, Durham University, and will also be a Research Fellow at the University’s Institute of Advanced Studies. Current projects involve kinetic and interactive sculptures with a particular focus on phase changes, smart materials and new technologies. And continued engagement with Ordered Universe.

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