A friend forwarded a couple of links to me recently about the relationship of science and art and particularly the dynamic that exists between them. The pieces, one inspired by the other, set a number of thoughts running. The first was the importance for many scientists/researchers of the scribbled conceptual diagram – in fact I have note books full of them. Cartoons of reality that help researchers articulate arguments, scope concepts and summarise complex ideas. In this sense art is a route to clarity of thought which is essential for good science writing, or at least in my humble opinion. I can hear you questioning whether such cartoons are actual art – scribbled on the back of meeting agendas, squeezed into the margins of note books, on the back of drafts of papers – but I would argue that they are and their elegance in conveying ideas and thoughts process is as real and striking as any painting.
The pieces also made me think about how in the last 18 months I myself have embraced art as a painter. Until recently I had never painted before in my life but took it up after turning out a half decent picture while painting one day with my boys. Self-taught through the use of you-tube video clips, websites and a lot of trial and error I have advanced rapidly and exhibited a couple of my pictures last summer for the first time and have got to the stage where I am now brave enough to hang them on my office wall. It provides me with what a colleague recently described as ‘flow’ relaxation and an hours painting of an evening has done wonders at placing life in better focus. In fact I would go as far as to say ‘a painting a week keeps the doctor away!’ My art is inspired by my love of landscapes – mountains, hills, ice, snow, the artic and mountaineering in general – the same things which inspires my science and for me the linkage is clear and my art is simply an extension of my love of imagination, ideas and innovation the life blood of good research. I would be interested to hear what you make of the blog posts in the two links below as well.