In the current issue of Sculpture magazine I encountered an extraordinary story of mass participation crochet coral. The images would normally have put me off, because I am not a fan of the crowded and what I would call visually messy; but Sculpture is a serious publication, and I have rarely been disappointed with its articles. You can perhaps read the article through this link.
There have been several collaborations between science and the arts now, which can be read about here, and here, and here, and seen/listened to here. It is an area which seems to be growing, to my delight, because I do very much believe in the benefits of cross pollination. I thought that the Coral Crochet Reef would perhaps make an interesting post for Ragged Cloth Café.
Twins from Australia, Margaret and Christine Wertheim, the former the scientist (physics and maths) and the latter the artist (painting, literature, and logic), but both interested in mathematics were intrigued by a Latvian mathematician who worked out how to model hyperbolic geometry with crochet. They worked on examples of hyperbolic geometry for a couple of years until bored with perfect shapes – and found that imperfections in the pattern looked organic, and that the results looked like corals. They decided that they could crochet a whole reef – and from there the larger project grew. There is an excellent You-tube film here which explains the project much better than I ever could.
Should you wish to create your own versions of crocheted or knitted corals there are patterns here and here. This whole project, or the wide totality of projects goes to show just how much folks enjoy being part of creative communities, indeed, of a greater creative community. I’m not sure how many would think more about mathematics beyond hyperbolic geometry – but perhaps even if just one or two do that is success. I do hope that an increasing number of projects like this, and others combining ideas of science and the arts will permeate everyday culture so that we will grow up thinking more widely and in less pigeon-holed a manner.
To my personal visual taste the crochet reefs might be unattractive compared with the real growing marvels, but if our humanity can be enhanced as well as the existence of those who share our planet, then crochet on!
The real thing – image from here