Art and the Mathematics of the National Museum of Australia

Ms Janelle Robyn Humphreys
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The mathematical basis of the controversial architecture of the National Museum of Australia, one of Australia’s major tourist attractions, is not understood by the general public. The available literature is technically challenging and therefore difficult for the lay person to understand. The current project bridges this gap by using a series of paintings to explain features such as the Möbius twist at the entrance and the Boolean knot structure of the foyer. Both of these features have proved to be troublesome and have often been misinterpreted or overlooked. The möbius strip with its continuous single surface is introduced as a model for the analysis of the structure of paintings by several Australian landscape artists. The Boolean knot is explained using the shadows of the windows projected onto the floor of the foyer. The National Museum is supporting this project and has allowed the use of the museum for my exploration, through painting, of links between mathematics and art.

Keywords: Mathematics and Art, Möbius Strip, Projections, Topology, Architecture, Australian Landscape Painting
Stream: Art in Communities, Analysing Artforms
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: Art and the Mathematics of the National Museum of Australia

Ms Janelle Robyn Humphreys

Doctor of Creative Arts student, Faculty of Creative Arts, School of Art and Design, Univerity of Wollongong
Wollongong, NSW, Australia

Janelle Humphreys is a Doctor of Creative Arts student at the University of Wollongong. In 2000-03, after some twenty years as a lecturer in Mathematics in universities, she studied the Advanced Diploma of Fine Arts at the Sydney Gallery School (Northern Sydney Institute of TAFE). This was followed, in 2004, by a Masters degree (MSA, hons) at Sydney College of the Arts, where she continued her research into the links between mathematics and art. This led her to the University of Wollongong which encourages cross-disciplinary research. Humphreys is a practising painter and has had solo shows in Sydney, Wollongong and Newcastle during 2004-6. She is represented in several public and private collections, including those of the Northern Sydney Institute and the Blacktown Council and the Vice-Chancellor of Sydney University, and has won several prizes, most recently, the Yang Sheng-An Memorial Art Prize, 2005. Her painting is about her position in landscape and the connection with memory and place. Research interests are in dimensions and projections in visual systems. Presently she is analysing methods of pictorial illusion in landscape painting, especially the Australian Modernists, using the topology of the möbius strip.

Ref: A06P0571