The Art of Global Challenge

Series 3/3: The Artist and the Engineer – This series reflects on the relationship in between Art and Engineering.


From climate change to rapid urbanization civilization is facing radical challenges in the way we approach and solve problems. In this vast and growing world how do we understand the personal and intimate nature of these challenges. When there is a constant pressure for economic growth how do we value life and resources. In order to achieve this we must value creativity. Upholding the belief that we can overcome these challenges by working together valuing our different giftings. The answer is not to lose hope and to see borders and countries break down under the pressure for resources. If we value growth more than we value each other we will have lost sense of what it means to be a civilization.

Tipping Point is a project that brings scientist and artists together to study climate change and understand how it effects us. It takes the abstract and overwhelming idea of climate change and breaks it down to a quantifiable and identifiable idea. This is part of a global effort by artists to understand the human aspect of these global challenges. Art enables us to relate to these big ideas and see the different perspectives and outlooks into these challenges. Art can enable us to grow in our understanding of these challenges and our passion to bring about positive change.

Art doesn’t have to have a message or uphold social values. At its core art should remind us of the creativity of humanity. It should encourage us that as a civilisation there are solutions to these challenges. My wife loves searching for patterns in photography and prints. The different work she creates presents varied and complex patterns. This reminds me of the design we find throughout our environment. The challenges society face may be varied and complex but there are underlying patterns throughout, we need to work together to understand these complex patterns and build a better future.

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Why we must all be Makers

Series 2/3: The Artist and the Engineer – This series reflects on the relationship in between Art and Engineering.


Photo by gfpeck

My wife is an artist, she enjoys learning about process the way things work. The other day she said something quite beautiful when talking about her work. She explained to me that before the age of computer processing, mathematicians would employ people with no scientific background to go through data and find patterns. There are patterns everywhere in space such as the Fibonacci Sequence; these patterns are beautiful and we are naturally intrigued and excited by them. My wife then explained that this is how she creates, she researches different processes and finds the beauty within the process. She then spends hours researching the science behind the process in order to understand how she can further develop the method.

The Institute of Making embraces this engineered creativity, it combines artists and engineers in order to explore and understand ideas. Mark Miodownik founder of the Institute recently discussed the importance of making on Radio 4. Mark believes that making is a necessity and should be a founding block of education. Mark promotes the idea of Hack Spaces in communities where people can come together to make. Making is an important part of who we are, it is integral to our human identity. When we make we learn to be curious and patient, discovering the world around us and how it works. We discover the beauty in creativity; searching for patterns and researching the engineering behind the patterns.

The Institute of Making enables imagination and reality to coexist enabling both the artist and engineer to gain a deeper understanding of their environment. Making is at the center of who we are, it combines engineering skill and creativity. Making brings people together and fuels innovative thinking.

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What Engineers can learn from Artists?

Series 1/3: The Artist and the Engineer – This series reflects on the relationship in between Art and Engineering.


Photo by David Dixon

The Imperial War Museum in Salford is designed to represent a broken world. The design is complex and holds a strong visual impact. As an engineer I am constantly seeking to understand how a building is designed and how the forces flows through the structure. The Imperial War Museum is very intriguing and draws me in through its elegant design. As a civil engineer I enjoy observing different designs and understanding how form follows function. As an engineer I get drawn into my environment and drawn into the process of how things work. This provides me with the creative insight to innovatively approach engineering problems.

Artist works in a similar way; they explore and observe their environment. This provides a palette with which to create and design innovative new processes that challenge the conventional methods. Artists aim to change your perception and make you reflect. Artists aim to create something which inspires and speaks to each and every one of us at a personal and intimate level. Artists have a great ability to observe and challenge their environment.

Artists and engineers may approach their environment differently but both strive to observe and explore the built and natural environment; in order to create, enhance and sustain places which bring people together. Artists can inspire engineers through their creativity and in-depth observation of their environment. Engineers and Artists offer a great observational insight into the way our environment works. How could artists and engineers work closer together in order to better understand the challenges society faces?

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