We’ve always been mesmerised by fractals.
We found them to be fascinating when we read about them 10 to 15 years ago.
Maybe it was 20 years ago.
A fractal is a never-ending pattern, according to the Fractal Foundation.
“They are created by repeating a simple process over and over in an ongoing feedback loop,” the foundation said.
We’re actually surprised that a fractal foundation exists. What reason could there be for this, we wondered.
The foundation said its mission was to “use the beauty of fractals to inspire interest in science, math and art”.
“Our vision is for a world of wonder and curiosity, a culture of scientific inquiry, an appreciation of the interconnections of natural systems and an understanding of their essential nonlinearity,” it said.
“We see a world where everyone is mathematically literate and has a grasp of how math is a powerful tool to help turn their visions into reality.
“We are out to change the culture. We have enough sports heroes and movie stars. What we need are some science heroes and some math stars.”
That sounds like a perfect reason for a fractal foundation.
The foundation says nature is full of fractals, including trees, rivers, coastlines, mountains, clouds, seashells and even hurricanes.
Fractals were the first thing that came to mind when we heard about a new exhibition at Maitland Regional Art Gallery.
The artist is Frank Murri. The exhibition is titled, The Prime Ingredient in a Big Piece of Pi.
Frank said his artworks incorporate “mathematical formulas, theorems and sequences”.
“This art form I’ve developed advocates pure abstraction in an attempt to synthesise a design aesthetic,” he said.
“By looking into the realm of pure mathematics, there lies within a beauty which transcends its usual form.”
Frank recalled a quote from philosopher and mathematician Bertrand Russell, which he said encapsulates “this synergy between mathematics and art”.
“Mathematics, rightly viewed, possesses not only truth, but supreme beauty – a beauty cold and austere, like that of sculpture.”
Nature as Art
Speaking of artwork, Herald journalist Ian “Kirky” Kirkwood attended an exhibition at Gallery 139 in Beaumont Street, Hamilton at the weekend.
The exhibition showed the work of artist Helene Leane, who recently moved from Newcastle to a rural idyll in the Hunter Valley.
Helene’s exhibition celebrates one of Australia’s most majestic trees – the red cedar, scientific name Toona ciliata.
Along with coal, red cedar’s beautiful red timber was this region’s first export, but the trees have been so heavily logged that very few exist in the wild.
At the exhibition launch, Helene regaled the crowd with her love of the tree, reading a description that she “unashamedly extracted” from one of Don Burke’s Burke’s Backyard books.
She also cited a guide to cedar-spotting that Kirky wrote in 2012, titled Pining for the days of cedar.
In it, Kirky said that “one of the best red cedars I know stands in a car park behind the former NAB bank on the corner of Donald and Beaumont streets, Hamilton”.
“With a straight thick trunk and a magnificent full canopy, it is starting to grow the distinctive buttresses that rainforest trees of this scale often grow to support themselves.”
And six years on, it was still looking good – until very recently.
Kirky was driving along Donald Street and passing the Beaumont Street corner, when he subliminally realised something was different.
When he pulled into the car park, his worst fears were confirmed. The tree was gone, a covering of fresh mulch in the garden bed the only sign it once existed.
Kirky hoped that whoever cut down the tree knew its value and didn’t simply stick it into a mulcher.
A tree that size would easily have $5000 or more worth of timber in it. Not to mention the value of the tree to tree-lovers.
Although the tree is gone, Helene’s exhibition is on until Sunday, May 14. More information at gallery139.com.au.