Art & Film 2023

The Pier Arts Centre in Stromness is the venue to two explorations into links between mathematics and art on Saturday 9 September.

In the morning the link is through the work of a remarkable book from 1917 that continues to reverberate today. On Growth and Form by D’Arcy Thompson inspired various artists in the Pier’s permanent collection, among them Barbara Hepworth and Naum Gabo, and it inspired other artists whose work is featured in a visiting exhibition.

In the afternoon we look at three anniversaries that weave together the lives of a Scottish mathematician and two Scottish women painters.

We celebrate the 75th birthday of the Scottish composer Eddie McGuire with three films that provide the first public performance of all five of his astronomy-inspired compositions together in a superb combination of music and images, and stories as well.

And we travel to Stronsay in a new specially-made film that links Orkney past and present with the story of the ages of ice and their aftermath.


September 7 → 9:00 pm10:30 pm

Scottish composer Eddie McGuire’s five astronomy-inspired pieces of music have never been played before as a complete series. Tonight, to celebrate his 75th birthday, you can hear them together, introduced by astronomer Dr Anne-Marie Weijmans of St Andrews University. The music comes in three films specially recorded by musicians from the University, including trumpeter Bede Williams and members of the Wallace Collection.


September 9 → 10:30 am12:30 pm

Explore mathematical influences on art in the permanent exhibition at the Pier and a visiting exhibition from Dundee. Curator Andrew Parkinson and Kari Adams join Dundee curator Matthew Jarron and mathematician Dr Isobel Falconer from St Andrews University. There’s talks, a tour, and a tea break. Booking essential.


September 9 → 2:00 pm3:30 pm

Science, mathematics and art celebrate three anniversaries – the Scottish mathematician Hugh Blackburn; his wife, the painter Jemima Blackburn, a favourite cousin of the physicist James Clerk Maxwell; and her relative, the first majopr Scottish woman portrait painter Katherine Read, born a century earlier. Art historian Prof. Frances Fowle and mathematics historian Dr Isobel Falconer explore richly colourful lives and times. Numbers limited, booking essential.

John Leslie from Shapinsay has been building boats for decades. Nearing retirement, he contemplates his life on the sea, as a creel fisherman and a boat builder. The film by Mark Jenkins from Stromness has music by James Watson and is followed by an after-screening discussion with John and Mark.


September 9 → 7:15 pm10:00 pm

A documentary film exploring how we see the world, with its background the expansion of surveillance technologies in everyday life. It combines hallucinatory and often abstract visuals, history, and conventional fly-on-the-wall filmmaking, to look at different perceptions, for humans and cameras. It focuses on police body cameras and surveillance systems – and also traces studies of solar eclipses.


September 11 → 11:30 am12:30 pm

Just 20,000 years ago, Orkney was covered by a kilometre of ice, part of a huge mass reaching beyond Scotland. Over the years, geologists have found evidence of rocks carried by the glaciers, and in a new film by Selena Kuzman, Dr John Flett Brown and Dr Adrian Hall find some rocks that have travelled a long distance.


September 12 → 5:15 pm6:15 pm

Tales of Papa Westray folk, past, present and future. There’s news of island birdlife, the story of the Traill family, a film of building a cassie sea defence-wall, and a new animated film produced by the pupils of the school, with a rich mix of voices from the community: follow the story of the Tystie's struggle to find fish!

John Leslie from Shapinsay has been building boats for decades. Nearing retirement, he contemplates his life on the sea, as a creel fisherman and a boat builder, while building what might be his last dinghy. The film by Mark Jenkins from Stromness has music by James Watson.

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