University of Wales, Bangor - Mathematics Department
John Robinson Exhibition at the R.I.
The following report appeared in the London Mathematical Society Newsletter (No. 322, January 2004).
ROYAL INSTITUTION DISCOURSEDavid Acheson, one of this year's LMS Popular Lecturers, was the speaker at a Royal Institution Discourse on 31 October 2003. As ever, David gave an excellent talk, entitled "1089", entertaining a large and diverse audience, in the manner customary to these long-established evenings. Scattered around the RI Library for the event were exhibitions to amuse and inform. The Society's materials attracted good interest, in particular the videos of the Popular Lectures, including, of course, those of David and Marcus du Sautoy earlier this year.
Another exhibition - models of mathematically-related sculptures by John Robinson - renewed the long association of the Royal Institution with Bangor mathematics and the sculptor.
Ronnie Brown first saw some of John's amazing mathematically related sculptures in John's Freeland Gallery in Albemarle Street, after a Mathematics Masterclasses Organisers' Meeting in 1985, the Gallery's second and last year of operation. This led to some of John's maquettes being presented at the Royal Institution in 1988 and 1992, for Discourses of Sir Michael Atiyah and of Ronnie Brown, and to full size sculptures being shown at the Pop Maths Roadshow in Leeds in 1989 and Liverpool in 1990.
A web site at Bangor, showing over 55 sculptures, was constructed in 1996, supported by Edition Limitée, and was upgraded in 2002 with EPSRC support. This has made John's work available to the world. Ronnie Brown has lectured on John's work in Oxford, Toronto (Fields Institute, 90th birthday of Donald Coxeter), Maubeuge, San Sebastian, Paris, Obidos, Bologna, Anglesey, Bilbao.
One of the aims of this association of mathematics and art is to link mathematics in the public mind, and for students, with imagination, rhythm of form, and creativity. Another is to suggest questions on the nature and role of mathematics, and indeed of art.