Preparations for the Ordered Universe conference which takes place at Pembroke College, Oxford 3-6 April, are moving on apace. In addition to our three keynote speakers, Professors Jim Al-Khalili (Surrey), Suzanne Akbari (Toronto) and Simon Oliver (Durham), we have a nice array of papers submitted, from a fantastic range of disciplines, which are forming themselves into panels. Just as a taster, we have for example:
Philipp Nothaft (All Souls College, Oxford) on ‘Grosseteste as Computist’
Brett Smith (Catholic University of America) on ‘When Aristotle Went Wrong: How Desire Shapes Intellectual Vision in the Epistemology of Robert Grosseteste’
Adam Richter (Toronto) on ‘Robert Grosseteste, John Wallis and the Laws of Nature’
Aimee Quickfall (Bishop Grosseteste University) on ‘Philosophy with Children and Robert Grosseteste’
and plenty of other papers from the team and friends old and new.
The conference will also feature an exhibition of work from staff and students at the National Glass Centre, University of Sunderland, conceived and created in response to Grosseteste’s thought especially on colour and the rainbow. The exhibition, curated by Clara Chivers, will also include manuscript treasures from Pembroke College library, including works of Grosseteste. Multi-media sculptor Alexandra Carr will be bringing together a temporary installation in the college chapel, drawing inspiration from Grosseteste’s cosmological vision, and modern understanding of the universe.
We’re very keen to have as many people at the conference as possible, and there are places left for paper or poster submissions – the conference rates and information, including timetable, are available here. Spread the word!
For those that haven’t yet managed to get to the National Glass Centre in Sunderland, we have here a guided tour to the exhibition by Cate Watkinson and Colin Rennie. Rosie Reed Gold took the photographs, adding another level of interpretation to the movement from 13th century Latin manuscripts, to editions and translations, to textual analysis (by Continue reading →
Last night saw the launch of Illuminating Colour, a new exhibition from Cate Watkinson and Colin Rennie at the National Glass Centre, University of Sunderland. The exhibition, as readers of this site will know, grew from a collaborative initiative with the Ordered Universe project, Through a Glass Darkly. The exhibition emerged from a series of meetings, collaborative readings, knowledge exchange sessions (learning about glass, living medieval manuscripts), glass-making, planning and exhibits within the Being Human Festival, all of which took place over the last 18 months. Students and staff from Durham, Sunderland and Oxford, as well as the international collaborators from Ordered Universe, have all taken part and contributed, Artists Alexandra Carr, Ross Ashton, Alan Fentiman and Rosie Reed Gold have also been involved from their different media expertise.
The centrepiece of the exhibition is Cate and Colin’s work. Taking Grosseteste’s treatises On Colour and On the Rainbow as the principal inspiration, alongside his thinking on light and other meteorological phenomena, the works have come together over the last year. It has been an enormous privilege to watch this happen, and, at some level, to have been involved. The imagination, craft, skill depth of experience and curiosity to experiment are both mind-blowing and inspiring. The exhibition dwells profoundly on Grosseteste’s statement that ‘Light is colour embodied in a transparent medium’. The end of that treatise, On Colour, invokes the fact that those who are especially skilled can manipulate the medium to make whatever colour they like. This description is applied justly to Cate and Colin, and the pieces they have created.
Illuminating Colour finishes on 11th March 2018, so there is plenty of time to come and visit, and what a reason (if any were needed), to come to the North-East. This is also only the beginning of the collaboration, so stay tuned for further cross-disciplinary exploration of the universe in which we live and how we explain and perceive it. The exhibition is supported by the University of Sunderland, the National Glass Centre, the Arts and Humanities Research Council, Durham University and the Ordered Universe project. For those that couldn’t be there last night – some images and a periscope tour of the exhibits – but do come and see the real things!
It is not often that you get to see your research used in the production of stunning artwork, but that is exactly the case for the Ordered Universe team and the collaboration with Cate Watkinson and Colin Rennie at the National Glass Centre, University of Sunderland. Opening this Friday, Illuminating Colour runs from October 21st 2017 until March 11th 2018 in the Main Gallery at The National Glass Centre. The fruit of collaboration across the project and the NGC as readers of previous blogposts will know, it is tremendous to see Cate and Colin’s imagination, hard work, skill, craft and learning come to the point of exhibition.
It is a great pleasure to introduce Dr Rebekah White, who will take up the second post-doctoral research position within the Ordered Universe. Rebekah will be based in Oxford, working with Hannah Smithson in the Department of Experimental Psychology, and will be drawing together scientific commentary on Grosseteste’s treatises on natural philosophy, as well as teasing out the inspiration for modern science through experiment and wider discussion. We are very glad to have Rebekah on board, and look forward very much indeed to working with her. In her own words:
I completed a Bachelor of Arts/Science and an MPhil in Psychology at the Australian National University, followed by a DPhil in Experimental Psychology at the University of Oxford. My first postdoctoral position was a Junior Research Fellowship at Christ Church, and I am delighted to be commencing my second postdoctoral position as a member of the Ordered Universe team. My previous work has spanned several areas of Cognitive Psychology, including somatosensory processing, body awareness and representation, inattentional blindness, crossmodal perception, and synaesthesia. I am excited by the interdisciplinary nature of the Ordered Universe project, and look forward to designing experiments inspired by Grosseteste’s treatises.
From the Ordered Universe themed summer school for the Oxnet Access to University scheme, a short film with some of the very talented student participants. A reminder of the quality of their questions, and keenness to contribute and engage, and of an uplifting week in Pembroke College under the inspired leadership of Dr Peter Claus. The Oxnet programme is coming to the North-East of England this year, with the launch of a hub based at Southmoor Academy. We can’t wait!
Many thanks to David Shacklette for conducting the interviews.
The Ordered Universe project featured today at Durham University’s Celebrating Arts and Humanities Research Day. The second annual event of its kind, the day showcased research from the past year from all of the departments within the Faculty (History, English, Classics, Theology and Religion, Music, Philosophy, and Modern Languages and Cultures). Continue reading →
And here it is, the wonderful show from Philip Ball’s Science Stories, on Radio 4. An evocative opening, and then a treat with Tom talking about Grosseteste, the De luce and the interdisciplinary work of the Ordered Universe, and a final consideration of multiverses with Mary Jane Rubenstein. Thought-provoking, meditative and stimulating by turns! Just shows how well the story of Grosseteste’s world, how it inspires scholarship and creativity today, and the intrinsic interest in the phenomena studies, works on radio. Do listen – it’s well worth it.
Absolutely thrilled to announce an upcoming exhibition at the National Glass Centre, University of Sunderland. Artists Cate Watkinson and Colin Rennie, with contributions from MA and PhD students from the Centre will be creating a fantastic array of installations, all based on Grosseteste’s treatises on light, colour and the rainbow. The exhibition will run from October 2017 to February 2018 at the Glass Centre.
Amongst the pieces to be created are pillars of colour casting shadow and reflection, and an exploded rainbow, with sequences of colour moving and blending into each other:
Other pieces will work with medieval imagery and text; all will be exploring Grosseteste’s idea that Colour is Light ‘Color est lux’. Or, as he put in his Commentary on the Genesis Creation story, a constant mediation and mingling of the elements:
Nor should anyone think that the earth could not have been coloured at the beginning, given that colour is light in a diaphanous medium and light was not yet created. In fact, if the creation of things was successive the fire was mixed with this solid earth since the beginning, as it is now; and the incorporation of its light (that is: the fire-light) in the moisture of the earth made the earth coloured. In fact, these elements that we perceive around us are not pure, but mixed with each other, and are named from the element that predominates.
[Hexaemeron 4.7.2: ed. Richard C. Dales and Servus Gieben (Oxford, 1982); translated by C.F.J. Martin as On the Six Days of Creation (Oxford, 1996)]
Flowing from the Through A Glass Darkly collaboration the exhibition also forms part of the City of Sunderland’s bid for UK City of Culture. It really is amazing to see the continued inspiration that Grosseteste’s thinking moves and shapes, and to see different levels of analysis, interpretation and explanation of these texts through glass.
We’ll be creating a Vlog to track the progress of the making – many thanks to Claire Todd – and to whet your appetites for the exhibition, in its various modes: meditative and explosive by turns.
One not to miss! Tom McLeish is featured at 21.00 on Wednesday this week, talking with Philip Ball, on Science Stories, Radio 4: The Medieval Bishop’s Big Bang Theory. Tom and Philip explore the scientific world of Robert Grosseteste, rainbows, colour and light streaming through Cathedral windows, and the birth of the cosmos described in his treatise ‘On Light’ with its eerie resonance of modern thinking. Listen in, or to the podcast afterwards!