Geologists and Artists in Conversation.

At the "Regarding Dynamic Process" Symposium at Hull School of Art and Design on 11th October 2014 a panel discussed series of questions posed by the Chair and the delegates. The panel consisted of Desmond Brett. Earl Howarth, Jo Ray and Mike Horne and was chaired by Anna Kirk-Smith.

Here is a written version of that conversation -

(AK-S) Given that in both the fine arts and geology there are self-confessed or qualification-based ‘amateurs’ and ‘professionals’, I was wondering, within these fields, how perceptions of they and their roles differed?

(AK-S) From either an experiential or a scientific viewpoint, do artists’ and scientists’ thought processes / brains differ, and if so how?

(AK-S) Do you have any thoughts about how artists and scientists interpret things differently?

(John Knight) - The art you are doing is for a third party - its value is in the eye of the audience. The scientific approach is for internal satisfaction - it's resolving an intellectual question. To what extent can we interpret creativity in the two fields?

(AK-S) Do you think that creativity is a behavioural mechanism from our training or inherent within us?

(Nikki Abramson) - As an artist my work comes as a necessity - for some reason I cannot not do it. The desire to perform or have an exhibition is nothing to do with being an artist.

(AK-S) Taking that both fields are by nature experimental, and within the parameters of research, how do you, as a scientist or artist, ‘test a problem’?

(AK-S) What, to you, is ‘proof’ of having solved that problem?

(AK-S) How does intuition guide your practice? What is the role of imagination within both fields?

(Spike Bucklow) Are the boundaries a false dichotomy - do the differences between art and science really exist?

Biographies -

Desmond Brett is a sculptor and academic with a BA and MFA in Sculpture from the Slade. He is Programme Leader of BA Fine Art at Hull School of Art and Design, has an international exhibition record, and has worked with partners including The Hepworth Wakefield, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, the Henry Moore Foundation, Kettles Yard, The Queen of Hungary Project Space and the Cornaro Institute in Cyprus, delivering residencies, popular public educational and practical arts workshops.

Earl Howarth is a consultant physician in stroke medicine, now close to retirement, and employed at Scarborough Hospital. With no formal qualification in geology, he has long been interested in earth sciences and enjoys the privilege of being a Council member of the YGS. With a scientific rather than artistic background, he is intrigued that there is a structural and neurobiological basis to account for the (neuroaesthetic) differences in creativity and perception between the artist and non-artist brain.

Jo Ray is an artist based in the UK. She is interested in the gap between the idea and the lived experience. Issues of scale, landscape, architecture and social phenomena inform her practice. Jo has contributed to exhibitions, residencies and participatory projects in the UK and internationally. In recent years she has worked with organisations such as Art Gene, Red Nile, Grit & Pearl to deliver site specific commissions, including work for the inaugural 5x5 Project in Washington DC, and the ‘Seldom Seen’ Cabinet of Curiosities for Piel Island. Questions about how we value and interpret Place are intrinsic to this work. Jo studied at the Slade School of Fine Art, and lectures at Hull School of Art and Design. She is about to undertake her doctoral research at Sheffield Hallam University, examining ‘The Model as Imaginative Apparatus'

Mike Horne has studied geology from the age of 13. He has published over a hundred papers and abstracts about East Yorkshire Geology and taught Geology at the University of Hull for over 15 years. He is a member of the Yorkshire Geological Society, Fellow of the Geological Society and a Honorary Life Member of the Hull Geological Society.


updated 17th October 2014

copyright Hull Geological Society