In Awe of Physics-
Painting in the Basement Lab, Cardiff School of Physic and Astronomy 1st July 2014 and 8th July.
Dr. Dan Read and I’s plan for day 1 (and day 2 the following week) was to set up the Meissner Effect and paint in situ. I brought with me my materials and equipment- Two freshly ground canvases, 3ft by 3ft, shimmering with washes of silver and paynes grey acrylic. A white box of jars and gold, silver, copper, white and prepared mixtures of shimmering dark greys paints, long purple brushes, sketchbook, notebook, one right handed calligraphy pen and one left handed calligraphy, a few pencils and realms of science papers containing information about Magnetic Monopoles and Kagome lattices and papers on Diffusion Tensor imaging all written all or in part by Cardiff University Professors and Doctors.
I had been waiting for this day since I first set eyes upon the Meissner Effect demonstration at the Cardiff Science Festival 2013 by Dan and his team. Dan and I where that day exhibiting opposite each other in the Cardiff Pierhead building. Dan with the physics and I with paintings based on, Diffusion Tensor Imaging of my brain, these are derived from Magnetic Resonance imaging scans conducted at CUBRIC in 2012 by Prof. Derek Jones and Dr. Silvia de Santis. Our love for superconducting magnetic materials certainly resonated with us both.
Dan had just finished setting up ready for the public who would be arriving in 10 minutes at 10am Saturday 20th July 2013. I took the opportunity introduce myself and take a closer look at the strange cloud cascading from a small curious dish on his table. I walked towards him stood, with gleaming smiling eyes as if he held some great secret about this world and I now knelt at his table to be at eye level with what I now know to be is the Meissner and (*a name missing here*) Effect.
It's difficult to express this first moment. At first glance I thought my eyes betrayed me. A small cube dark in matter tinged with frost seemed to be levitating above a small round disk; this was set in a pool of the strange ethereal fluid substance with a cold mist dancing evaporating like lazy smoke flowing off the table descending with gravity. Dan caught my attention with a pair of plastic teasers entering my filed of vision as he genteelly tapped the cube and set it rotating, floating before my eyes on it’s axis.
The effect was rather superbly overwhelming. Dan explained the cube was not ‘levitated’ as such but rather held in a Magnetic Field where by the cube is superconducting when very cold ethereal cascading liquid Nitrogen (77k) cools. Here the cube is in the process- ‘expulsion of magnetic flux’.
Since then Dan and I agreed to plan a few days where by, I will set up my canvases and paint in suit, this incredible and delightful demonstration of physics. The feeling of Awe seizes to be depleted and I am continuously struck by the mesmerising Meissner Effect, I was not the only one.
As soon as the demonstration was set up the basement lab on the 1 st July 2014, Dan’s students; Charlie, Daniel and Cane all starting taking pictures and looking closely at the phenomena. They are as intrigued as I am. It goes to prove that it never seizes to amaze. As I began to paint, conversations bubbled about all manner of super conducting magnetic materials and their properties. We all shared ideas of about all sorts from- vacuums, ‘Stargates’ and future technologies, stories prevailed about my Grandfathers quest to create a Perpetrol motion and the trouble with friction. Cane shared conversations he has had with his, Grandfather, his Dad and brother about ethics of his science. What if something you invented was used to cause good and bad? His brother would ask...
I came to understand these magical people intend to offer the world their ideas, theories and inventions to this world; to be delivered unhindered, peer reviewed, tested and expressed through an infinity variety of applications. That the world will in turn use, alter, enhance and change at will all of their potential outcomes. One thing is clear Magnetism is the future! We all agreed upon that and ‘Magnetic Monopoles’ will probably play a central role.
In the flow of our discussion Cane said hang on a moment ‘I’ll just go and get my levatron’, (this made me smile, its not everyday you here that! My daughter Jasmin aged 10 gives a statement below, about this which best explains it) he bought it in to the lab and I set up the second canvas and quickly began to paint this too as the inspiration poured out. He set up 3 more demonstrations all together. The afternoon continued; liquid nitrogen was topped up again and again with a frilling sense of mischief and awe by Dr. Dan Read and I felt like I was swimming in a dream that mingled and tangled with a tangible future.
‘Magnetic Monopoles’ these words are unlikely companions aren’t they! On the 2 day I focus on the ‘Monster Machine’! It stands in off centre in the lab, almost finished looking grand and beautiful nearly touching the ceiling. Dan and his students have been working on this since last summer.
I remember seeing it when I came for a quick visit last September. Now it is twice the size, and its beauty grows. Charlie explained- It will be use to evaporate premollys (magnetic materials) that will rise up inside to be assimilated on the lithographed Silicon (and eventually Graphene) membranes created using the electron photon laser. A Kagome lattice, that looks like a honeycomb is lithographed and the evaporated premollys settle into place and cooled from above and heated to extremes from below. Observation is possible through a channel looking into the vacuum. I find the whole beast in enchanting, I image the path of the evaporating premollys dancing up inside to be quenched in disorder, examined with the results recorded by Charlie.
I am creating three art works on canvas that express the observed, imagined and assimilated. These will be exhibit at the Senedd, Cardiff Bay between 10-4 Saturday 19th & 20th July 2014 along with DTi Artwork of my Brain and Dr. Dan Read with his students showing the demonstration for all to see. To read more, see images of the lab, studio and progression of artwork go to www.massivedynamicart.com
Statements: My daughter, Jasmin Gale and Richrad Higlett of Cardiff Contemporary Art Festival 2014.
My mum Penelope Rose is doing some painting on science and I went to see them but I got distracted by a spining top floating in mid air and I figured it out. I'll tell you when you put a spinning top down it just falls over but if you spin it, it stays up right. The spinning top has a magnet south facing up and a big platform with a magnet north facing up so the two magnets repel themselves so it floats. There was so much stuff it was so cool and I am not the sort of person to be impressed easily but it was so AMAZING!
Jasmin Rose Gales aged 10 daughter of Penelope Rose Cowley, describes her experiences of visiting the Dr. Dan Read's Basement Lab on the 1st July 2014 at Cardiff University School of Physics and Astronomy
Artists and Scientists are different elements. The artists offer or makes questions....the scientists generate answers. Each sees the 'object' differently, a table stands in between as the buffer and the object, a glass perhaps is placed on top, the two elements face each other, observing the glass from different perspectives.
Penelope is awe struck by the experiments and chooses to paint the demonstrations in the basement lab in situ. One may ask why paint the phenomenon’s when they could be documented through photography or video?
Painting is the longest way to drag out the moment and perhaps the only way to fully appreciate the wonder.
Richard Higlett - Conversations at BayArt with Penelope Rose Cowley, Cardiff Bay,10th July 2014
Art exhibition and Demonstrations
A Dragon Slayer of the closed facebook group -
Inspired me to create an artwork for the Dragon Slayers- Fighter and survivers of Hepatitis C -
Dragon Slayers started asking for T-Shirts, so after some research I found Zazzle. It was really easy to set up and I highly recommend it.
- join up click here -
Image links to the limited edition print of 'Dragon Slayer' (not on zazzle)
Here is the first product I sold on Zazzle to a brave Dragon Slayer. The T-Shirt as requested.
Customers have already recieved their items and are really pleased, fact is not everyone wants an Art Print and Zazzle has made that possible.
As I said before, I highly recommend them, it's really fun to work on.
- join up click here -
Also, and this is great, you are able to personalise any of the products. One my customers wanted a jumper with words Dragon Slayer on the back of it, so thats what she did and it took about 2 mins.And delviever in about a week to some where in America.
Here is a link to my product page click here
This collection is inspired by Animals, Nature and my Imagination. In my other collection 'Artsci
Creations' most of the work there has a science twist to it these products are not. They are everything else, fun, sweet, cute, weird and imaginative. In general, the designs that have a symmetrical feel about them are created as shown in the video above.
'Artsci' is the merging of Art and Science. The artwork and designs in this collection normally have bit of a science twist or element. The Video below features the creation of 'InfiniteLIGODreams' an oil painting commissioned by Cardiff School of Physics and Astronomy.
!!!News!!!- The video will be featured at the FOCUS Live festival in Milan, Italy 8-11 November 2018 to introduce a talk about Space. Which is pretty cool, it will be the first time one of my video will shown at a science festival.
Feature Product- Beltane Buzz T-Shirt
I thought I make this for Lowri Davies who asked me to create Beltane Buzz the original image can be seen here - https://www.peneloperosecowley.com/news/beltane-buzz I have changed it for a more transcendental dream like feel. I hope you like it. 'Beltane Buzz' was commission by an organizer of the Beltane Buzz Festival- Lowri Davies and we worked together on the concept. We both thought it was great that I was also born in Braintree all seems to make so much sense... Lowri Davies 11th July 2016 - 'A lover of all things tree-like, a focus on that first burst of light every Beltane and a keen interest in neuro, it's only a matter of time until you can see its patterns in nature and throughout science. I wanted to commission a painting to incorporate science, nature's structures, neuronal networks, trees, Beltane and so much more. All in one painting.... Micro to Macro. Not an easy task for most! It arrived last week! I can't resist but to share it! I feel so lucky to have worked alongside a truly gifted Artist with an outstanding understanding and in-depth, broad knowledge of science. I will no doubt look at this painting for many years to come and continue to see different things and develop my own understanding of biology, neuroscience and it's symmetry in nature. Penny I absolutely love it, and will be eternally grateful.' Many thanks to Lowri for the inspiration and encouragement! I loved creating this commission for you and now everyone can enjoy it in this format too. Thx Babe! www.peneloperosecowley.com
They're not all dead yet...
I feel that the freedom of artistic expression allows us to give form to cognition, using the smallest vibration and most detailed structures within us as source material. In this vein, I think of the words of Wassily Kandinsky (1866 – 1944):
It is never literally true that any form is meaningless and ‘says nothing’. Every form in the world says something. But its message often fails to reach us, and even if it does, full understanding is often withheld from us. And, properly speaking, form is the outward expression of this inner meaning.
- The language of Form and Colour : Concerning the Spiritual in Art
Is there a relationship between 'Picture With White Border' and my painting 'Sagittal Self Portrait 2013'?
Did he mirror his mind on canvas? As he put it, ‘Is form an outward expression of inner meaning?’
NEW SIGNALS does not attempt to answer these existential questions. But these existential ideas form part of my journey and creative process.
Cormier has a minor form of epilepsy, and Dr Leandro Beltrachini’s research at CUBRIC involves creating mathematical models to improve the medical care of epilepsy. I therefore took the view that Cormier would be an interesting person to speak to about how her seizures colour her experiences of the world.
I travelled from Cardiff to London to gain insights into her perspective. You can see my sketches of her on the NEW SIGNALS image page and here.
We arranged to extract tractography data from the 3T MRi Connectome using the 'ExploreDTi' programme, which processes the data gathered in tractography. We enlisted the help of Alex Goodall, an intern with the local NHS trust who was working with CUBRIC to improve his technical skills with ‘ExploreDTi’.
Working closely with Goodall, Dr Tallantrye and I collected a variety of different views of each of the tractography maps using the ExploreDTi programme. This allowed us to turn the nerve cell tracts into spaghetti-like tubes using toggled lighting effects, giving shadows and highlights to each tract, creating texture and life. The map became soaked in hues of red, green, blue and a whole rainbow of colours in between, each colour relating to one direction in the three-dimensional space 3-D space traversed by water molecules. Here are a selection of the stunning Regions of Interest (ROIs) we created together.
The whole journey has been so challenging and so stimulating, I will probably still be discussing it in years to come. It is another chapter in my journey merging art and science.
Thankfully, the NEW SIGNALS story is not over yet: all the artsci works will eventually be placed on permanent display at the CUBRIC centre in Cardiff. Plus, over the next few years a touring exhibtion of all the works commissioned from myself and other artists will be toured around the UK before they then take their final resting place at CUBRIC.
For now I would to give special acknowledgements to...
Director Professor Derek Jones for inviting me to participate in the project, and for all the conversations and encouragement he gave me I had over the years since 2012.
Project Manager Ying Lin Wellcome Trust Strategic Award WTSA for all the advice, patiences, understanding and recommendations.
Editor Zoe Cormier, for making sense of my words, sharing her experiences and allowing me to make her a part of MINDSCAPE.
Scientists Dr Leandro Beltrachini of the Brain Imaging Group in the School of Physics and Astronomy, and Dr Kevin Murphy, Wellcome Trust Career Development Fellow. I want to thank them both for our conversations and for explaining their research.
Researchers Dr Emma Tallantyre, Clinical Senior Lecturer in the Division of Psychological Medicine and Clinical Neuroscience at the School of Medicine, and Alex Goodall of the Leeds Teaching Hospital NHS Trust. I am thankful to both for their enthusiasm, for sharing their research, and for creating beautiful tractography images.
Scientist Fabrizio Fasano, Collaboration Scientist at Siemens Healthineers and CUBRIC. I want to thank him for sharing his research and conversations.
And to The PROVIDI Lab, headed by Alexander Leemans, which focuses on processing, analyzing, and visualizing diffusion MRI data for investigating microstructural and architectural characteristics of tissue organization. I have not yet had the pleasure to meet Alexander yet, but I would like to thank him for giving me permission to integrate PROVIDI Lab images into NEW SIGNALS.
This inspired me to bring scientific ideas to life through my painting and illustrations. For the past six years I have been commissioned to create and exhibit a range of artsci pieces that explore subjects ranging from neuroscience to magnetism and astronomy. I find the beauty in the data irresistible.
Memory Sketches of Conversations at CUBRIC in 2012...
I have been lucky enough to have a glimpse of the potential of the research at CUBRIC. Inspired by their incredible images of the brain, with every new piece of knowledge I gain from my collaborators, I find myself meditating on the composition of thoughts themselves. Such as the “spin echo” of a hydrogen atom’s proton as it vibrates inside a magnetic resonance imaging (MRi) machine. Or how through “tractography” we can map the nerve cell tracts in the brain by measuring the movement of water molecules as they travel along neurons, pushed by magnetic fields. In a way, it feels like we can see the shape of our minds, and I find it incredible and very inspiring.
A selection of visual data from CUBRIC...
PROcessing & VIsualization in Diffusion Imaging (PROVIDI) Lab
The colours seen in diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) scans and tractography images are not just pretty to look at: each hue represents one direction in the three-dimensional space in which echoing protons flip with magnetic pulses. With each pulse, they move along, through, in and out of axons, white matter, grey matter and the vortices of the brain. I find these to be incredibly beautiful in their own right. I have create many artsci work regarding DTi.
Selection of macro diffussion tensor artsci works in pen and ink and oil on canvas:
Leandro explained to me how he works with electroencephalogram (EEG) sensors, magnetoencephalography (MEG) scanners, and the university’s new 3T connectome scanner to map the microstructures of the brain. With these he develops “numerical models for representing physical processes in arbitrary domains and conditions” – a complex way to describe something known as the “forward problem” .
I also collaborated with Dr Emma Tallantyre, Clinical Senior Lecturer in the Division of Psychological Medicine and Clinical Neuroscience at Cardiff University, whom I was introduced to by CUBRIC’s Project Manager Ying Lin of the Wellcome Trust. Emma can be seen in this video:
Emma can be seen in this video at 2:44 discussing a scan with a volunteer in July 2017. In this video, we can see some of the first highly detailed scans from the new 3T microstructure scanner. It was very inspiring to witness. We were also joined by Alex Goodall, an intern from the NHS Trust, who was there to improve his technical skills with the ‘ExploreDTi’ programme, which processes the data gathered in tractography.
Their goal is to “understand brain and behaviour in health and disease through advanced imaging and cognitive methods” – but they also extend their work beyond the walls of the lab and into the realm of the studio.
CUBRIC commissioned three artists, of which I was one, to create “artsci” works that celebrate and reflect the research and images they produce. Through various mediums, each artist produced works inspired by the work of brilliant researchers, who collaborated with every artist to help them appreciate and communicate specific scientific concepts.
My work, a project we titled NEW SIGNALS, is finally complete. I would like to thank all the collaborators I had the pleasure to work with:
- Dr Leandro Beltrachini, Brain Imaging Group, School of Physics and Astronomy
- Professor Kevin Murphy Wellcome Trust Career Development Fellow,
- Dr Emma Tallantyre, Clinical Senior Lecturerin the Division of Psychological Medicine and Clinical Neuroscience in the School of Medicine
- Alex Goodall of the Leeds Teaching Hospital NHS Trust
I also had awe-inspiring exchanges with Fabrizio Fasano, Collaboration Scientist at Siemens Healthineers, advice from CUBRIC Ying Lin, Wellcome Trust Strategic Award WTSA and CUBRIC Project Manager and feedback and encouragement from the Director Professor Derek Jones of CUBRIC
These are the results of two years of research, collaboration and inspiration...
150cm x 180cm
Acrylic on Canvas
Professor Matt Griffin, Head of the School of Physics and Astronomy, recommended Dr Beltrachini and Dr Murphy to work with me for my NEW SIGNALS project. “It is interesting, the possibility of immortalising the alliance between Physics and CUBRIC in an artistic way,” commented Dr Griffin. As I had been commissioned recently by the School of Physics and Astronomy for 'Infinite LIGO Dreams' it was natural to carry on the connection.
Lightbox with transparent digital Artsci work
594mm x 841mm
Working with collaborators Dr Emma Tallantyre and Alex Goodall, an intern from Leeds Teaching Hospital NHS Trust, we decided to create an 'artsci' work that expressed the forms and structures derived from the DTi and tractography images produced by the 3T MRi Connectome scanner. All these images are produced as a range of views – axial, sagittal and coronal - of so-called “Regions of Interest” (ROIs) in the brain. Emma, Alex and I chose each image with the aim of giving our audience insight into the beauty of tractography.
Emma suggested we use images of the corticospinal region, which in the brain branches into the corona radiata, internal capsule, fornix, and corpus callosum. I suggested we also use images of the cingulum and tallantyre, which I found to be aesthetically pleasing. In the end, we decided to merge images of the fornix and cingulum together. Aided by Goodall’s expertise with the programme ExploreDTi , we created three sets of stunning tractography maps.
36 inches by 24 inches
Oil on canvas
100cm by 70cm
Acrylic on canvas