These Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef samples were donated by the InStiches artist collaboration comprising Claire Conroy, Michaela Davies and Charlotte Hayward in 2009. Produced by the artists, volunteers, and workshop participants as part of an artist-in-residency program at the Bundanon Trust, New South Wales, these twelve samples were donated to the Museum's collection after they were displayed at the Ultimo Science Festival in August 2009. InStiches facilitated the Sydney Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef as a local chapter, a satellite site, to a much larger project that began in 2005 at the Institute for Figuring in Los Angeles in America by scientist Margaret Wertheim. What began as a crochet project between she and her twin sister, Professor Christine Wertheim of the California Institute of Arts (CalArts), has grown into a global art and science phenomenon that in the first decade of the 21st century was part of an artistic response to global warming.
Comprised largely of crocheted wool, but also of plastics, film reel, ropes and fibre optic cable, these component crochet samples are then pinned together to create coral reef landscapes that represented the effect that global warming and plastic trash have on our oceans. They are also intriguing examples of non-euclidean geometry and hyperbolic space, which together with a workforce that is 90% female, somewhate elevates the notion of crochet as a female handicraft, to crochet as a design function for mathematical modeling. When these models are applied to wool via crochet, they produce recognisable biological entities. In fact, it is difficult to model hyperbolic geometry any other way, even by computer. This was discovered by Cornell mathematician Dr. Daina Taimina in 1997.
What Dr. Taimina, the Wertheim sisters, InStitches and all of the participants in the production of hyperbolic crochet are doing is engaging people with abstract mathematics in a visual and tactile way.
By Deborah Turnbull
http://www.ted.com/talks/margaret_wertheim_crochets_the_coral_reef#t-912530 - accessed 4 August 2014
http://crochetcoralreef.org - accessed April 14, 2014
Margaret Wertheim. A Field Guide to Hyperbolic Space: an exploration of the intersection of higher geometry and feminine handicraft. The Institute for Figuring, Los Angeles, CA, USA. Â© Margaret Wertheim, 2007.