Narrative of practice
Long hours of observational drawing led to questions of morphology, comparative anatomy and resemblances across species and classes, and exploring alternatives through drawing. Curiosity about the diversity of natural forms led me to the specimen and the collections of scientific institutions like the Natural History Museum. Drawing from scientific specimens necessitates engagement with scientists and curators, and through conversations new collaborations and friendships were born. Right next door at Imperial College London the forms of mathematics, reaching beyond the physical world, are stranger still. They also became new terrain to explore. In these places, as Kepes puts it, ‘Art and Science meet on common ground…’
‘The essential vision of reality presents us not with figurative appearances but with felt patterns of order which have coherence and meaning for the eye and the mind. Symmetry, balance, and rhythmic sequence express essential characteristics of natural phenomena: the connectedness of nature- the order, the logic, the living process. Here art and science meet on common ground’ (Kepes, The New Landscape in Art and Science, Chicago, 1956: 24)
Questions of form became questions of formation, growth and development leading to deeper engagement with scientific and philosophical theory – theoretical morphology, systems biology, organicism – and generative art practices – the experimental processes of printmaking – repetition with variation. Artists and scientists share a common interest in the formative processes and patterns of nature abstractly conceived. Interests and methods converge and diverge. Conversations about drawing became interviews and articles. The projects take various forms, including paper artworks and models (drawings, etchings, weaving, rapid prototype, watercolours, origami) exhibitions, website archives, academic papers, books, workshops, talks, and installations with the venues range from museums, art spaces, journals, botanical gardens, universities and scientific labs.
A gradual progression from a macroscopic to a microscopic view of form ‘not form, but forming, not form in its final appearance, form in the process of becoming’ (Klee) and a shift from observation to simulation and abstraction occurred within the space of drawing research – in the while, A PhD and a book. Having left the ‘object’ behind, I joined Exeter’s ‘Process Philosophy of Biology’ group and my questions became focused more often on biological processes, their dynamic patterns, qualities and kinds, what could these look like, and how can we know about process. Finally reaching beyond the microscopic to a purely abstract visualisation of life’s processes (from protein dynamics to cell division to embryogenesis) – undermining the distinction between figuration and abstraction in art.
Art, science and philosophy together have a chance to explore some of life’s most fascinating enigmas: process, movement, flux and complexity. And still, it is important to think about the social dynamics of interdisciplinary collaboration and the relationship of drawing practice to technology, images and language. What is this practice moving towards? A new art, a new science, or a new epistemology? New drawings will be what we start with for now, to think with and to think about.
DR. GEMMA ANDERSON
Artist and Research Fellow, Egenis Centre for the Study of the Life Sciences, Department of Sociology, Philosophy and Anthropology, University of Exeter and Falmouth School of Art, Falmouth University
- 2011-15 PhD in Drawing, University of the Arts London
- 2005-07 MA Fine Arts Printmaking, Royal College of Art (Excellent Pass)
- 2006 University College London, Anatomy for Artists Certificate
- 2002-05 BA Fine Art, Falmouth College of Art (First Class Honours)
- 2001 Foundation Studies in Art and Design, University of Ulster (Distinction)
Selected Solo Exhibitions
- 2018 Bio-Art and Architecture, Museum of Special Collections, University of Amsterdam
- 2018 Representing Biology as Process, The Royal Institution, London
- 2017 Isomorphology and Isomorphogenesis, Konrad Lorenz Institute, Klosterneuburg, Austria
- 2016 Drawn Investigations from Art and Science, Naughton Gallery, Queen’s University, Belfast
- 2014 Isomorphology – Riddles of Form, Galerie Thore Krietemeyer, Berlin
- 2013 Isomorphology, Ebb&Flow Gallery, London
- 2011 Drawing in the Natural Sciences, Jerwood Project Space, London
- 2011 Portraits: Patients and Psychiatrists, The Naughton Gallery, Queens University
- 2010 Portraits: Patients and Psychiatrists, Freud Museum, London
- 2010 Drawings and Etchings of Ezo, Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation, London
- 2010 Portraits: Patients and Psychiatrists Acme Project Space, London
- 2010 Portraits: Patients and Psychiatrists Globe Theatre, London
- 2009 Drawing Ezo, Nepenthes Gallery, Sapporo, Japan
- 2008 Potatoe in Bloom, Whitecross Gallery, London
Selected Group Exhibitions
- 2019 GÄA: Holistic Science and Wisdom Tradition, Newlyn Art Gallery and The Exchange, Cornwall
- 2018 ‘Making Life Visible’, Faulconer Gallery, Grinnell College, Iowa
- 2017 ‘Temporalities’, BKA-Veranstaltungsraum, Vienna
- 2015-16 ‘Facing History’, Victoria and Albert Museum, London
- 2016 A Sketch of the Universe: Art, Science and the Influence of D’Arcy Thompson, Edinburgh City Art Centre
- 2015 ‘Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain’, Centre for Contemporary Art, Derry, N.Ireland
- 2015 ‘Contemporary British Drawing in China’ Xi’an Academy of Fine Art, China
- 2015 ‘A Call for Drawings’ MaHKU, University of the Arts Utrecht and UCL, London
- 2014 ‘Drawing Making: Making Drawing’, The Drawing Room, London
- 2013 ‘Coral’, Manchester Museum, Manchester
- 2010 SKIN, Wellcome Collection, London
Peer Reviewed Articles, Book Chapters and Books
- Anderson, G., (forthcoming) ‘Dynamic form: Klee as artist and morphologist’, Antennae: The Journal of nature in visual culture, Giovanni Aloi.
- Anderson, G., (forthcoming) ‘Moving beyond the specimen: From drawing objects to drawing processes’ in Juler, E. and Robinson, A., (Eds.), ‘Post-Specimen’, Intellect Press.
- Anderson, G., 2017. Drawing as a Way of Knowing in Art and Science, Intellect Press.
- Bapteste, E., Anderson, G. 2018 ‘Sketching a processual typology for evolutionary biology’, in Dupre, J and Nicholson, D (eds.) Process Philosophy for Biology, Oxford University Press.
- Anderson, G., Jaeger, J., Verd, B., 2018 ‘Drawing to Extend Waddington’s Epigenetic Landscape’ MIT Press, Leonardo.
- Anderson, G.,2018 (Forthcoming). ‘Inter-Objective Encounters: Creative Practice, Objecthood and Medico-Scientific Display’, chapter in edited book.
- Anderson, G, 2016. ‘Drawing Resemblance and Isomorphology’, Architectural Theory Review 20(30) 336-349.
- Anderson, G., Buck, D., Coates, T. and Corti, A. 2015 ‘Drawing in Mathematics: From Inverse Vision to the Liberation of Form’, MIT Press, Leonardo, 48 (5), pp. 439-448.
- Anderson, G. 2016. ISOMORPHOLOGY: An Introduction to Principles and Practice, Journal of Zoology Blog. (Online Blog: https://jzoblog.wordpress.com/).
- Anderson, G. and Corti, A. 2015 ‘Notes from an Artistic Collaboration’, in Emmer, M. and Abate, M. (eds.) Imagine Maths 4. UnioneMatematica Italiana; pp.72-82.
- Anderson, G. 2014 ‘Endangered: A Study of Morphological Drawing in Zoological Taxonomy’ MIT Press, Leonardo, 47(3), pp. 232–240.
- Anderson, G., Buck, D., Coates, T. and Corti, A. 2014 ‘Drawing in Mathematics: Geometry, Reasoning and Form’, TRACEY, (Online Journal: http://www.lboro.ac.uk/microsites/sota/tracey/journal/thin/2014/anderson.html).
Anderson. G, 2015 Isomorphology, Atlantic Press, Falmouth
Anderson. G, 2013 Isomorphology: An Introduction, Super Collider Press, London.
Anderson, G, 2013 Isomorphology (Exhibition Publication), London.
Anderson, G, 2011 Artist-in-Residence Publication, Jerwood Foundation, London.
Anderson, G, 2010 Portraits: Patients and Psychiatrists, The Wellcome Trust, London.
Morra, Joanne, 2015, Inside the Freud Museums: History, Memory and Site-Responsive Art
Jarron, Matthew, 2014 A Glimpse of a Great Vision: The D’Arcy Thompson Zoology Museum Art Fund Collection, University of Dundee
Endt-Jones, M, 2013, Coral: Something Rich and Strange, Liverpool University Press
Maslen, M, Southern, J, 2011, Drawing Projects; An Exploration of the Language of Drawing, Black Dog Publishing, London
Richards, P, 2009 Isolated, The Golden Thread Gallery, Belfast.
2017-20 Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) grant, “Representing Biology as Process” (co-investigator)
2017 KulturKontakt Art Residency, Vienna, Austria
2016 British Council Award, Artist in Residence, Northern Ireland Science Festival
2015 Falmouth University Research and Investment Scheme Award
2015 KALEID editions selection of Isomorphology Artists Book
2014 Collaborator on Leverhulme Research Programme Grant (P.I, Dr. Dorothy Buck, Imperial College)
2014 Falmouth University Research and Investment Scheme Award
2012 Leverhulme Artist in Residence Award, Imperial College London
2011 Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, Pathways to Impact
2011 University College Falmouth, PhD Studentship Award
2011 Royal Society, Special Project Award
2010 Arts Council of Northern Ireland Individual Artist Award
2009 Wellcome Trust Arts Award
2009 Royal Hibernian Academy Thomas Dammann Junior Memorial Trust Award
2008 Arts Council of Northern Ireland Individual Artist Award
2007 Mann Group Drawing Prize, Royal College of Art
2006 Mann Group Drawing Prize, Royal College of Art
- 2019 Cill Rialaig, Ballinskelligs, Ireland
- 2018 Artist in Residence, Faulconer Gallery, Grinnell College, Iowa, US
- 2017 KulturKontakt Art Residency, Vienna, Austria
- 2017 Artist in Residence (collaborator), Barbican Centre, London
- 2016 Konrad Lorenz Institute, Vienna, Austria
- 2016 Artist in Residence, Northern Ireland Science Festival
- 2016 Cill Rialaig, Ballinskelligs, Ireland
- 2015 Kestle Barton, Rural Arts Centre, Cornwall
- 2014 Cill Rialaig, Ballinskelligs, Ireland
- 2013 D’Arcy Thompson Museum of Zoology, Dundee University
- 2012 Leverhulme Artist in Residence, Imperial College, London
- 2011 Cill Rialaig, Ballinskelligs, Ireland
- 2010 Jerwood Foundation, Artist in Residence (Visual Arts), London
- 2010 Acme Fire Station Residency, London
- 2010 Arts Council of Northern Ireland, New York Residency
- 2009 Centre Culturel Irlandais, Paris
- 2009 Cill Rialaig, Ballinskelligs, Ireland
- 2008 Intercross Creative Centre, Sapporo, Japan
- Victoria and Albert Museum, London
- Wellcome Trust Collection, London
- The Natural History Museum, London
- Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Belfast
- Joan Flasch Artists’ Book Collection
- MoMA Library Collection
- Metropolitan Museum of Art Library Collection
- D’Arcy Thompson Museum, Dundee University
- Braid Museum and Art Centre, Ballymena, Northern Ireland
- Queens University, Belfast, Northern Ireland
- The Bethlem Museum, London
Selected Conferences and Research Presentations
- 2018 Interdisciplinary session (Art/Science/Philosophy): ‘Drawing as a way of knowing Mitosis’ with John Dupré and James Wakefield, Society for the Philosophy of Science in Practice (SPSP), Ghent, July
- 2018 Invited speaker, ‘Artistic Research in a scientific context: Methods and challenges’, Society for the Philosophy of Science in Practice (SPSP), Ghent, July
- 2018 Invited speaker, ‘Drawing complexity’, 9th Workshop of the Society for the Philosophy of Information, Brussels, June
- 2018 Invited speaker ‘Process Philosophy of Biology and Art’, End of the World Garden, Cornwall, August
- 2018 Invited speaker, ‘Brain Visions: Geometry, Art and Symbolism’, Centre L’Oubradou, France
- 2018 Process Biology: Final Conference of the ERC Project ‘A Process Ontology for Contemporary Biology’: Modular exhibition structure ‘Representing Biology as Process’
The Royal Institution, London, 21-23/04/18
- 2017 Paper and exhibition presentation at ‘On Growth and Form’ workshop, Lorentz Center, Snellius, Leiden University, Netherlands, 23-27th October 2017
- 2017 Invited speaker, ‘Fabulous Alternatives’, Wellcome Trust, London, 30th March
- 2017 Invited Speaker, London LASER, Central St Martins School of Art and Design, London, October
- 2017 ‘Representing Biology as Process’, presentation for International Society for History, Philosophy and Social Studies of Biology (ISHPSSB) conference, Sao Paulo, Brazil, 16-21st July
- 2017 Artists Talk, University of Applied Arts, Vienna, 28 May 2017
- 2017 Artist Talk, Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna, 23rd May 2017
- 2017 Artist talk, Ordering Nature: Fabulous Alternatives, part of “Making Nature: How we see animals”, Wellcome Collection and Grant Museum of Zoology, London
- 2016 ‘Beyond Impact: Drawing as a way of knowing in Biological Sciences’, Keynote Lecture, Society for Experimental Biology, Charles Darwin House, London.
- 2016 Artist talk, Artistic Research Cluster, Plymouth University
- 2016 ‘Drawing as a way of knowing: artistic research and the intention to represent biology as process’, Konrad Lorenz Institute, Vienna
- 2016 ‘Isomorphology’ Drawing workshop, The Big Draw Festival, Royal Society, London
- 2015 ‘May the 4th be with you’ Science Museum LATES, Science Museum, London
- 2015 ‘Drawing in the 4th Spatial Dimension’, workshop, Thinking Through Drawing Symposium, London
- 2015 ‘The Art and Science of Modern Systematics’ Interdisciplinary Symposium, Hannover, Germany
- 2014 Speaker, Panelist and Exhibitor, University Art Association Canada Conference, Toronto, Canada
- 2014 Speaker, International Word and Image Association Conference, Dundee University
- 2014 Speaker, Mathematics and Culture Conference, Institute of Science, Venice
- 2014 Presenter, Big Draw Workshop, The Natural History Museum, London
- 2013 Speaker, Drawing Research Network Conference, Metropolitan Museum, NYC
- 2013 Guest Speaker, Cluster of Excellence, Humboldt-Universität, Berlin
- 2013 Presenter, Nature Live, Natural History Museum, London
- 2012 Keynote: ‘Drawing in Mathematics’ at ‘Drawing in STEAM’ Conference, University of the Arts London
- 2012 Speaker, ‘Drawing Out’ conference, University of the Arts London
- 2012 Speaker, Drawing Research Network conference, Loughborough University
- 2010 Speaker, National Portrait Gallery, ‘Contemporary Portrait Practices’ Seminar
Academic Posts and Experience
- 2018 International Visiting Fellow, Grinell College, Iowa, US
- 2017-20 Research Fellow, Egenis, Centre for the Study of the Life Sciences, and LSI, Living Systems Institute, University of Exeter
- 2011–* Lecturer of Drawing, Falmouth University
- 2016–* Artistic Research Fellow, Department of Mathematics, Imperial College London
- 2016–* Honorary Research Fellow, Exeter Centre for the Study of the Life Sciences Egenis, University of Exeter
- 2015 Drawing Studio Tutor, Royal College of Art
- 2014 Visiting Lecturer MFA, Ontario College of Art and Design, Toronto, Canada
- 2014 Visiting Lecturer, BA Drawing, Camberwell College of Art, University of the Arts London
- 2013–* Guest Lecturer, ‘Science, Art and Design’ Module, Imperial College London
Selected Drawing Workshops and Courses
- 2018 ‘Observation and Visualisation in Art and Science’ Camden Arts Centre, London (Weekend Enquiry)
- 2018 ‘Biology and Art: Investigations through drawing’ Interdisciplinary undergraduate short course (three weeks), Grinell College, Iowa, US
- 2018 ‘Drawing Information’, 9th Workshop of the Society for the Philosophy of Information, Brussels, June
- 2018 ‘Molecules of Life: Exploring Proteins through drawing, movement and origami’ The Eden Project, Cornwall
- 2018 Drawing Lab Series ‘Transformations of Light’, Vollmer Lab, Living systems Institute, University of Exeter
- 2017 Drawing Lab Series ‘Choreographing Mitosis’, Wakefield Lab, Living systems Institute, University of Exeter
- 2017 ‘On Growth and Form’ workshop, Lorentz Center, Snellius, Leiden University, Netherlands, 23-27th October 2017
2016 ‘Isomorphology with the Natural History Museum collections’, The Big Draw Highlight Event, The Royal Society, London
- 2016 ‘Isomorphogenesis: Drawing images of development’ Konrad Lorenz Institute, Vienna, Austria 2016 ‘Artistic fieldwork and plant identification in the field’ in collaboration with Dr. Colin French, as part of GROUNDWORK, Arts Council Funded Project
- 2015 CMADC Workshop ‘The Isomorphology of the Lizard’ in collaboration with Dr. Colin French, Loe Bar and Cornwall Morphology and Drawing Centre, Cornwall
- 2015 CMADC Workshop ‘Drawing in the Fourth Spatial Dimension’ in collaboration with mathematician Prof. Alessio Corti, Cornwall Morphology and Drawing Centre, Cornwall
- 2015 CMADC Workshop ‘Drawing the Six Crystal Systems’ in collaboration with mineralogist Courtenay Smayle, Cornwall Morphology and Drawing Centre, Cornwall
- 2015 CMADC Workshop ‘The Art and Science of Systematics’ in collaboration with Dr. Gavin Broad, Cornwall Morphology and Drawing Centre, Cornwall
- 2015 ‘Observation, Microscopy and Morphology’ Royal College of Art in collaboration with Natural History Museum
- 2015 ‘Drawing and Dance’ Collaboration with dancer Katrina Brown, Falmouth University
- 2015 ‘Isomorphology workshop at Eden’ The Eden Project, Cornwall
- 2015 ‘Drawing in the Fourth Spatial Dimension’, in collaboration with mathematician Prof. Alessio Corti, Thinking Through Drawing Symposium, The Bargehouse, Southbank, London
- 2014 ‘Creative Morphology’ in ‘Drawing Making: Making Drawing’, Drawing Room, London
- 2014 ‘Experimenting with observational drawing and algorithm in response to natural form’ The Big Draw, Natural History Museum
- 2013 ‘Drawing resemblances of the Animal, Mineral, Vegetable’ Grant Museum, London
- 2013 ‘Deconstructing Morphology’ Natural History Museum, Berlin
- 2013 ‘Goethean observation and artistic fieldwork’ Cill Rialaig Art Project, Co. Kerry, Ireland
- 2012 ‘Goethean observation and drawing in scientific practice’ Natural History Museum London (for NHM scientists)
- 2011 ‘Drawing and Microscopy’ Biosciences Department, Exeter University
- 2011 ‘Drawing Plant Form and Symmetry’ Tresco Abbey Gardens, Isles of Scilly
Professional and Community Services
- 2018 Judge for the Big Draw Awards, London
- 2017 Co-organiser, ‘On Growth and Form’ interdisciplinary conference, Lorentz Center, Snellius, Leiden University, Netherlands, 23-27th October 2017
- 2017 PhD Examiner, University of Newcastle, Australia, 2017
- 2016– Founder and convener, ‘Art and Science Interest Group’, Natural History Museum, London
- 2016– Curator of online drawing research page for ‘The Big Draw’ organisation.
- 2014-15 Founder and Director, Cornwall Morphology and Drawing Centre, CAST, Cornwall
- 2015 Coordinator for Arts Stream, Interdisciplinary Symposium, Hannover, Germany
- 2015– Reviewer, Leonardo Journal, MIT Press
- 2014– Founder and convener of Falmouth University ‘Drawing Research in Art & Science Group’
- 2014 Creative Exchange Affiliate, Environment and Sustainability Institute, University of Exeter
- 2014– Reviewer, TRACEY Journal of Drawing Research
- 2018 International Visiting Scholar, Grinnell College, Iowa, US
- 2017-20 Research Fellow, Egenis, Centre for the Study of the Life Sciences, and LSI, Living Systems Institute, University of Exeter
- 2017 Fellow, Konrad Lorenz Institute, Klosterneuburg, Austria
- 2017 RANE Research Associate, Falmouth University
- 2016 Honorary Research Fellow, Egenis, University of Exeter.
- 2016–* Drawing Research Associate, The Big Draw
- 2014– Creative Exchange Affiliate, Environment and Sustainability Institute, University of Exeter.
- 2016-2018 Devon School of Yoga 500 Hours Teaching Training Diploma
- 2002 Voluntary Services Overseas (VSO) ‘World Youth Millenium Award’ Recipient