A monthly series of maths-art seminars held at the London Knowledge Lab in central London [see map]. The idea for these grew out of our work in hosting the annual international Bridges Conference in London in August 2006.

We propose these seminars as explorations of the connections between "mathematics" and "art", where both terms are understood broadly: art implies visual art (painting, drawing, sculpture, computer graphics, video), architecture, music, textile art, literature/poetry (and others), and mathematics implies both mathematics as a discipline and the related disciplines in science and engineering for which mathematics is an essential means of expression and communication.

The seminars are organised by John Sharp and Phillip Kent.

Regretfully, we are no longer able to organise the seminars. This site will remain online as an archive. We thank everyone for participating in the seminars over the years. Especial thanks for the speakers who generously offered their time and expertise.

Past seminars


8 June 2005: Mike Field (University of Houston) - Illuminating Chaos [see website: Images of Chaos and Symmetry by Mike Field]

16 March 2006: John Sharp (London Knowledge Lab) - Exploring, learning and creating: Creativity across mathematics and art [ view video recording of seminar>>]. Bonus video: Sliceforms: An interview with John Sharp (31 March 2006)


9 January 2007: Justin Mullins - Mathematical photography - Images from another world [www.justinmullins.com]

13 February 2007: David Singmaster - The Three Rabbits: The  History of a mathematical puzzle pattern from c 600 to the present [view video recording of seminar>>]

13 March 2007: Brady Peters and Xavier De Kestelier (Foster and Partners) - Digital design and generative geometry in architecture: The work of Foster and Partners’ specialist modelling group .
Seminar Poster. And see their article about Fosters' SMG in PLUS Magazine, March 2007.

17 April 2007: Gary Woodley, Slade School of Art, University College London, "3-D Drawing: Modelling and Projection"
Seminar Poster .

8 May 2007: Edmund Harriss, Mathematics Department, Imperial College, "Aspects of the Penrose tiling"
Seminar Poster.

12 June 2007: Tony Wills (Wills Watson + Associates) and John Sharp (London Knowledge Lab), “Developable surfaces and D-Forms”
Seminar Poster.

11 September 2007: Natalie Dower, "Rules: Convention, science and mathematics in a search for visual language". Seminar Poster.

9 October 2007:Brock Craft (London Knowledge Lab), "Computer generated art using context-free grammars". Seminar Poster.

13 November 2007: Susan Tebby, "The Imaginative Transformation of Space and Place: Art and mathematics from studio to built environment and back again" Seminar Poster.

11 December 2007: Meurig Beynon (University of Warwick), Making music, making mathematics, and making meaning.
Seminar Poster.


8 January 2008 : DISCUSSION EVENT - Mystery and Wonder, Play and Discovery: Mathematics and Art as Creative Activities. Poster

12 February 2008: Simon Schofield, Experiments in Digital Surface Generation: Stochastic methods of making interesting and beautiful textures. Poster


11 March 2008: Cameron Browne, Truchet curves and surfaces. Poster

8 April 2008: Penelope Woolfitt, The Geometry of Asian Trousers. Poster

13 May 2008: Chris Gough, Chance and Colour, Rules and Rulers. Poster

10 June 2008: Brian Wichmann, How to Find a Tiling Pattern. Poster

9 September 2008: Louise Mabbs, My mathematical progression: Sequences & series. Poster

14 October 2008: Raymond Brownell, Of Mind and Eye - Combinations on Canvas. Poster

4 November 2008: Special joint meeting with the Computer Arts Society. 'RULES: algorithms | structures | intuition'. 2.30 - 5.00pm Lectures &  6.00 - 7.30pm Live Coding performance and talk by slub. Meeting Programme.

9 December 2008: Daniel Piker, Intuitive Geometry. Poster

12 December 2008: Special seminar - Anamorphic art: A technical & demonstrations seminar, complementing the Study Day - Curious Perspective: Anamorphosis in Art held at the National Gallery on 13 December . Poster ; Programme


13 January 2009: Ernest Edmonds (University of Technology, Sydney), 'The Art of Logic'. Poster

10 February 2009: Roy Osborne, 'Directing the Viewer's Attention'. Poster

10 March 2009: Tom Wilkinson, 'Energy – A source of Inspiration'. Poster

12 May 2009:Clive Head and Michael Paraskos, 'Can Science Save Art? Moves Towards a Wider Mathematics of Art'. Poster

9 June 2009: Alan Sutcliffe, 'Doyle Spiral Circle Packings'. Poster

13 October 2009: Richard Henry, 'Practical Geometry and the Language of Symmetry in Islamic Art'  Poster.

10 November 2009: Bálint Bolygó [www.balintbolygo.com], 'Tracing, motion and harmony'.
8 December 2009: Patricia Wackrill, 'Bubbles in Beijing: The story behind the Watercube Aquatics Centre'. Poster


9 February 2010: Gregory Epps, 'Curved folding from craft to Robofold®: Curved folding in sheet metal'. Poster

9 March 2010:'Circles: Packings and Mirrors', Alan Sutcliffe on circle packing, John Sharp on inversion mirrors. Poster

13 April 2010:Kate Mackrell, 'Dynamic Geometry and Dynamic Art'. Poster. (Some dynamic geometry/art examples).

11 May 2010: Paul Prudence, 'Computation and Feedback: Sonified generative artwork' . Poster
8 June 2010: Linda Karshan, 'Measure without measure: The art of Linda Karshan'.  Poster

9 September 2010: Mark J. Stock, The Influence of Vortexes. Powerpoint slides, Video samples (YouTube), Seminar Poster

16 September 2010: Michael Field, The Art and Mathematics of Chaos - and how chaos can be (usefully) visualised. Poster

14 October 2010: Tony Mann, From Tristram Shandy to Bad Sex: Some uses of mathematics in fiction. Poster . (Tony's webpage on mathematical fiction)

11 November 2010: Anthony Steed, Simon Bexfield, John Sharp, and Robert Reid, Robert Reid and the Art of Spacefilling in Two and Three Dimensions. Poster .

9 December 2010: Art and Mathematics of Paper Folding. A special festive hands-on event, with presenters John Wootton, Tim Rowett, Tony Wills, Richard Ahrens and John Sharp. Poster


10 February 2011: Simon Morgan, Art, Aesthetics, Gestalt Theory of Perception and the Computational Analysis of Images . Poster

10 March 2011: Mary Harris, Some mathematics within? What actually goes on in some traditional textiles crafts? [YouTube video]   Poster

14 April 2011: Nick Sayers,To Live: Building Geodesic Shelters from Estate Agent Boards. [YouTube video [Nick Sayers Flickr site] Poster

12 May 2011: Daniel White, From 2D Mandelbrot to 3D Mandelbulb: A Tour of Mystery and Intrigue. [YouTube video] [Daniel's notes on the seminar Poster

9 June 2011:APPLICATIONS OF ORIGAMI - Special Origami and Mathematics meeting presented by Mark Bolitho and the British Origami Society. Workshops and discussion.

8 September 2011: Indu Choraria, 'One Loop – Endless Possibilities'     Poster
In mathematical terms, knitting takes a one dimensional yarn and loops it into fabrics that sit between 2 and 3 dimensions, not necessarily as a fractal object, but via forms such as lace, cables, baubles, layering, pleats - and simultaneously
these can be crafted into shapes of complex geometry, from socks to Klein bottles. Indu will touch on some of these possibilities, referencing examples including her own work and reflecting on the more intangible aspects of knitting such as the emotional, personal and cultural.

13 October 2011: Rolf Gehlhaar, 'Mathematics in Music'.
Mathematics plays many roles in music: it can be used to describe the order found in music of the distant and the recent past. In so far as music may be considered as an architecture of sound in time, it has been used to generate order; and, of course it is essential to all the various different processes of digital sound synthesis so important to the music of today. This presentation will discuss some of these various roles and their influence on the structure and sound of my own compositions.
10 November 2011: Paul Ernest, 'Mathematics in the Art of John Ernest'.   Poster
John Ernest (1922 –1994) was a key member of the British Constructivist abstract art movement. He had a lifelong fascination with mathematics that is reflected both in his work and in some contributions to graph theory. John Ernest experimented with visual representations of mathematical ideas in many of his works, such as his Moebius Strip sculpture (Tate Britain). However his most sustained use of mathematics was in a series of works related to Group Theory. In these he made group tables of order 8 using various graphic elements and combinations. The result is a series of strikingly beautiful paintings and reliefs. Images of his finished works and some sketches will be displayed as well as a discussion of the underlying mathematics.
8 December 2011 Pre-Xmas Mathematics and Art "Hands On"      Poster
After our successful pre-Xmas hands on event last year we are having another less formal meeting. Come along for a relaxed and enjoyable evening of practical explorations to get you involved with different aspects of mathematics and art. JOHN WOOTTON returns with more modular origami after his success last year. JOHN SHARP has an activity based around spirals and helices with paper folding and sculpting with straw. FELICITY WOOD invites you to explore weaving on cubes. SIMON MORGAN will sculpt surfaces using wire and soap bubbles. PHILLIP KENT will show his "Anamorphe Me!" software and let you play with anamorphic images.


12 January 2012: "Mathematics, and the Concrete and Neoconcrete Artistic movements in Brazil" by Fabrizio Augusto Poltronieri
This talk will focus on some relations between the philosophical concept of mathematics developed by the American philosopher Charles Sanders Peirce (1839-1914), as applied to the Arts, and the approach to Art practice taken by the Concrete and Neoconcrete artists in Săo Paulo and Rio de Janeiro during the 1950s-70s. The work of several artists from this period will be introduced, such as the poetry of Augusto and Haroldo de Campos and Décio Pignatari – pioneers of Peircian studies in Brazil – the Computer Art of Waldemar Cordeiro and Giorgio Moscatti, from Săo Paulo, and Lygia
Clark, Lygia Pape** and Hélio Oiticica, from Rio de Janeiro, with a focus on their participative Art.

9 February 2012: Maths-Art Show and Tell
An open event where everyone is invited to contribute. Choose one of your favourite images, objects, books, stories, poems, websites, or computer programs. Something that, for you, makes a connection between mathematics and art. You have 5 minutes to SHOW what you have chosen and TELL why it is important to YOUR ideas about mathematics and art - which do not have to agree with anyone else's ideas! Contributions include: Crova's Disk and Marcel Duchamp; Hexagonal weaving; Perspective painting; Islamic architectural decoration; TurtleArt and a surprising polygon construction; knitting Fibonacci's pineapple.

8 March 2012: Parametric Design and Construction in the sculpture “Tall Tree and the Eye” by Chiara Tuffaneli (Senior Architect, Arup)
By combining Arup’s engineering tradition with innovative outlook on structure, form and aesthetics, “the Tall Tree and the Eye” sculpture is a successful example of connection between art, geometry and architecture. The talk will explore the use of parametric modelling throughout the design and the manufacturing of Anish Kapoor's sculpture, where multiple stainless steel spheres are stacked to a height of 14m. The use of digital form-finding techniques that simulate gravity force, explicit history tools, but also the understanding of sphere packing theory and curved mirror reflections allowed the development of a parametric model that can adapt and change accordingly to the design and structural progress throughout all design stages. The use of new computational technologies can, in fact, help the coordination of multiple design aspects, from the most theoretical ones such as fulfilling the artistic concept, to the most practical ones such as complying with structural performance and manufacturing requirements. All aspects are blended together in order to embody an innovative example of close collaboration between all parties involved - artist, architects, engineers and fabricators.

According to founding members of the Concrete Art movement, its intention was to avoid re-producing nature and, instead, to embody abstract ideas in real, *concrete* form, in order to make the built environment more bearable. Mathematics is a fount of abstract ideas, some of which are primarily visual. In this talk, Eva will discuss some of the algorithms and processes that she uses to design and produce artwork based on the Hilbert Curve, a “discrete” fractal that covers a square surface, to any desired density. Along the way, she will also present artwork by some of the artists who have influenced her work.

14 June 2012: ART AND MATHEMATICS IN PRE-COLUMBIAN MESOAMERICA by Francisco González Redondo
The Maya constituted the most sophisticated civilisation of Mesoamerica prior to the arrival of the Spanish Conquistadores. They acknowledged several complex systems of counting and recording the passing of time, (all of them related to a base-twenty system which included the use of a ‘zero’), as well as significant astronomical discoveries. Assumed to be a distant outgrowth from seminal Olmec urban culture, the Maya planned their cities, especially their ceremonial centres, according to cardinal points and equinox-solstice occurrences, while designing their temples subject to calendaric-mathematical patterns. They also developed a visually rich glyphic writing carved on stelae and lintels, and painted
on ceramics, frescoes, and remarkable codices. Francisco will show how all these issues ultimately merge in a unified conception of Astronomy, Religion, Mathematics and Art that allows understanding for what is behind the much-discussed date 21st December 2012, the day the [Maya] World would supposedly come at an end.

13 September 2012: Richard Phillips, "Perspective in the age of digital photography". POSTER
Perspective is usually discussed as a drawing system used by artists, and concerning its place in the history of art. But perspective pictures can be made effortlessly by taking photographs, and this is the starting point for an exploration of the geometry of perspective, and its implications for the way the brain interprets pictures. We have no difficulty in viewing pictures from oblique angles and from distances that do not reconstruct the geometry of the original scene. Some insight into what the brain is doing can be gained from the distortions seen in photographs taken with short and long lenses. [This talk is based on Richard's new book - find out more at www.badseypublications.co.uk]

11 October 2012: Taneli Luotoniemi, "Towards a three-dimensional knot ornamentation"  POSTER
The geometric rosette pattern drawn with a compass can be used as a template to construct a variety of rotationally symmetric, alternating and closed knot ornaments in two dimensions. Applying this method to the third dimension brings forth new challenges: what is the three-dimensional analogue for the rosette pattern, how to achieve rotational symmetry in 3-D, and what kind of object may be knotted in an ornament of higher dimensions? Answering these questions prompts the artist to take some steps into the domains of geometry and topology.

8 November 2012: Adam Ockelford (Roehampton University), "What makes music 'music'? Explorations using zygonic theory".
Music exhibits complex structures of pitch and rhythm (which have often been analysed in terms of abstract mathematical set relationships) yet it is a remarkable fact that almost all people can intuitively make sense of music, without the need for formal education. This talk introduces ‘zygonic’ theory, a powerful analytical model developed by Adam Ockelford, which can be used to make sense of questions such as 'where music exists' and ‘would music still exist if humans ceased to be
around?’. The model can be used to show how music differs from verbal language, specialist communication systems such as Morse Code and clock chimes, and everyday sounds such as birdsong. It provides insights into the nature of learning, memory and creativity, and particularly as this is observed in exceptional learners such as those having severe autism or congenital blindness.


14 February 2013: "On the Origin of Mathematics & Art in Prehistoric Times" by Francisco A. González Redondo (Madrid Complutense University)   POSTER
According to the standard view, the history of Art begins in the Upper Palaeolithic era, in the Aurignacian of Europe, roughly 40,000 years ago. By that time, in the process of human evolution, our ancestors had been granted with the capability of symbolic thinking, an evidence for behavioural modernity that constituted a significant revolution. But together with horses, deer, goats, bison and mammoths painted on walls (Parietal Art), carved on stone or engraved on bone artifacts (Portable Art), we also find abstract paintings and engravings which contain non-representational graphic marks which can only be understood from a very specific point of view: Mathematics. Indeed, the interpretation of such symbolic register as tallies, calendars, astronomical notations, mnemonic devices and, even, cardinal and ordinal numbers, is experiencing increasing acceptance among archaeologists. In this Seminar we will witness how those first artists, members of our same species, with our same mental capabilities, registered both their artistic and mathematical thinking.  

14 March 2013: "Geometry: From sculptures to buildings" by Niloy Mitra (University College London)

Digital modeling by designers and engineers leads to the creation of huge archives of 3D models. There is a pressing need to develop algorithms and software tools which can help users to analyse, explore, organise, and synthesise such massive model collections. In this talk, I will show some of our recent efforts in this direction, in terms of automated analysis of 3D geometrical forms and 'constraint-aware synthesis', that is, using existing models to synthesise new forms which satisfy particular requirements - for example, to generate objects which cast interesting shadows, or building envelopes that are designed to minimise adverse shadowing effects. I will talk about some different applications including image processing, geometry processing, and fabrication-aware form finding. The talk will explore emerging trends in coupling form and function towards the grand goal of enabling fabrication-aware smart modeling and synthesis.

11 April 2013: "Art and the Möbius strip: A mostly hands-on experience", A workshop led by Simon Morgan and John Sharp   


The Möbius strip is a well known mathematical object in topology. Among artists, its curious properties have been often explored, with Max Bill and M. C. Escher among the most famous exponents. After a brief survey of this art and a basic mathematical overview, we will explore new aspects of this fascinating object as a starting point for potential new art. The session will be mainly practical because the properties of the Möbius strip can only be explored through hands-on experience. Please bring scissors, tape, and large paper sheets (e.g. old newspapers)!

9 May 2013: Michael Bartholomew-Biggs A Tale of Two Hemispheres - A random walk along the great longitudinal fissure. In this talk I shall draw on my personal experience of twenty-odd years of wandering along the fuzzy boundary between poetry and mathematics. After a brief-ish autobiographical section I shall present some of my own work together with a selection of (sometimes loosely) maths-related poems by writers whose work I admire and which illustrate the use of concepts such as randomization, permutation, parallelism and symmetry. There may be time for a few class exercises...


13 June 2013: A Whistlestop Tour of Mathematics and Art. In the final meeting of this session, we would like to show highlights from the Bridges Maths & Art Conference gallery submissions and also look at the work of prominent members of the Bridges community. The Bridges Conference 2013 will be held in The Netherlands, 27-31 July. (The Family Day on 28 July has free admission with lots of great things to do.)

Website last updated: 2014-03-30 by Phillip Kent