Mi Pattern

1st – 7th November 2014
   Lethaby Gallery // Central Saint Martins
   CLAYTALKS@CAL // LVMH Lecture Theatre
   Lost & Found // Window Gallery


The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious – the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science.

One of the strongest motives that lead men to art and science is escape from everyday life with its painful crudity and hopeless dreariness, from the fetters of one’s own ever shifting desires. A finely tempered nature longs to escape from the personal life into the world of objective perception and thought.

Albert Einstein

Pattern is fundamental to life. It informs our behavior as we navigate through our complex daily environments as we learn to recognize the benign from the dangerous and the reward from the punishment. Within this climate, Mi Pattern was conceived as a weeklong celebration and investigation into the fantastic world of pattern under the microscope.

The Lethaby Gallery in Central Saint Martins became a working laboratory, a gallery, and lecture space, where a collection of microscopes were available to explore a world too small to be seen with the naked eye. In the centre of the lab, on a circular table, a collection of simple microscopes on loan from the Royal Microscopical Society enticed the visitor to enter into a hidden world under the lens. Scattered across the surface of the table an array of objects lay poised for closer inspection: crystals, feathers, fabrics, minerals, insects, plants, richly patterned micro structures. Looking down a microscope lens is an activity where concentrated looking is rewarded with an intense visual experience at which we wonder and marvel. Since the first working microscope was developed by the English polymath Robert Hooke in 1665, capturing and recording the view down the lens needed a subtle coordination of hand and eye. Drawing materials on the table provided the opportunity to develop a split vision, working with one eye looking down the microscope while the other followed the hand drawing on the paper. Observing, recording, translating. Participants were encouraged to explore the materials we use every day to reveal complex textures and patterns when magnified up to 5000 times. During the week over eight hundred would be microscopists explored the blemishes on their skin, stamens of flowers, the structures of salt crystals, fibres on their clothes and eye spots on butterfly wings. From their explorations they were able to create a new landscape of patterns as lenses shifted from the micro to macro, from drawing to electron microscopy. The images that were created during the week were printed out to create a repository of micro samples and an archive of the event.

Throughout the exhibition a series of lunchtime gallery talks gave artists, designers and scientists a platform to share their pattern passions.

More information:

The event was generously supported by the Royal Microscopical Society, Lambda Photometrics and Nottingham University School of Medicine.