The Institute For Figuring Logo

The Science Gallery, Dublin

Exhibition Venue: Science Gallery, Dublin
Exhibition Dates: March 20 – June 11, 2010
Opening Reception: March 20, 2010 @ 6pm

Toxic Reef taking center stage in Dublin.

During Spring 2010 the Crochet Reef was on exhibition at the Science Gallery at Trinity College in Dublin. This unique show marks the first time the Reef has been exhibited at a science institution and the installation included several new features designed to highlight the science and mathematics  behind the project, including a specially built "Maths Chapel" and on-site science-trained 'mediators' who interacted with audiences and served as Reef tour guides. The exhibition also marked the Reef's second international showing after its installation at The Hayward in 2008. 

Highlights of the exhibition:

  • The debut of the new Bleached Bone Reef, a super-white version of the IFF's original Bleached Reef, our elegiac invocation of coral bleaching.
  • A much expanded version of the plastic-based Toxic Reef.
  • A brand new pop-art wonder-work by the fabulous Dr Axt entitled Reeficus Yellownicus.
  • A specially built "Holy Jewel Room" in which we displayed many of the finest works by the Reefs most skilled Contributors, in a series of beautifully lit vitrines.
  • The brand new Irish Reef, constructed by women all over Ireland.
  • A large section of the irrepressible Latvian Reef, appearing for the first time outside of Latvia, along with a selection of hanging panels from the Latvian Schools Reef.

The Irish Reef was organized by Irene Lundgaard and Orla Breslin with contributions from Felt Makers Ireland.

The Latvian Reef was coordinated by Tija Viksna of Gallery Consentio in Riga. The Latvian Schools Reef was co-led by Tija and Laila Strada of the Children’s Art School in Mazsalaca.

Irish Reef contributors

Ailish Grant, Anita Daly, Anne Sage, Aoife Canavan, B. Cummins, B. Whitmore, Barbara Smith, Barbara Morrison, Bernadine Fitzpatrick, Betty Cumiskey, Breda Clear, Carol Lanigan, Caroline Walshe, Caterin Lacey, Catherine Dowling, Christine Raab-Heine, Cristina Garcia, Eileen Doraw, Eileen O' Connell, Eimear Coxle, Emer Brady, Florrie Dixo, Fran Oldham, Hayley Dixon, Helen McDonnell, Jacinta Douglas, Jenny Byrne, Jenny Mills, Joan Blalu, Joanna Baird, Judy Donaghy, Juliet Betton, K. O'Rourke, Katherine Walsh, Lisa Westermann, Lorna Acton, Lua* Elliot, Lucy Robinson Madge Kenny, Maggie Walker, Margaret Hernan, Margaret Johnston, Margaret Dowling, Margarete Trede, Maria Hobbs, Marley Kavanagh, Martina Carroll, Mary O'Grady, Mary Murphy, Maureen O' Dwyer, Michaela Brown, Moira Jones, Muriel Smith, Nadine Petersen, Patricia Tomlinson, Peggy Corr, Rose Callen, Ruth Fortune, Ruth Cadec, Sarah Kent, Serena Baird, Sheelagh Rooney, Sheila de Courcy, Stephanie Kennedy, Susan Walsh, Suzanne McEndoo, Tara Fox, Tara Nelson, Tess Flynn, Tina O' Hare, Una Morrison, Winifred Stratham.

IFF Core Reef Contributors whose works are on show in the Dublin Exhibition

Christine Wertheim and Margaret Wertheim (CA, Australia), Sarah Simons (CA), Evelyn Hardin (TX), Anna Mayer (CA), Dr Axt (OR), Heather McCarren (CA), Helen Bernasconi (Australia), Marianne Midelburg (Australia), Barbara Wertheim (Australia), Helle Jorgensen (Australia), Anitra Menning (CA), Shari Porter (CA), Vonda N. McIntyre (WA), Ildiko Szabo (UK), Nancy Lewis (VT), Sue Von Ohlsen (VA), Rebecca Peapples (MI), Clare O’Callaghan (CA), Eleanor Kent (CA), Kathleen Greco (PA), Aviva Alter (IL), Catherine Chandler (IL), Nadia Severns (NY), Arlene Mintzer (NY), Anita Bruce (UK), Mieko Fukuhara (Japan). With Ann Wertheim, Elizabeth Wertheim, Quoin, Alicia Escott, Erika and Monika Simmons, Pate Conaway, Paula Peng, Allie Gerlach, Spring Pace, David Orozco, Karen Frazer, Karen Page, Lynn Latta, Barbara Robinson, Kristine Brandel, Cindy Bennish, Diana Simons, Dagmar Frinta, Jill Schreier, Pamela Stiles, Barbara Van Elsen, Njoya Angrum, Siew Chu Kerk, Jessica Stapp, Kat Ramsland, Barbara Wakesfield, Amber Reyes, Ranu Mukherjee’s class at CCA, Katy Bevan, Rosy Sykes, Beverly Griffiths, Jane Canby, Jennifer White, Sharon Menges, Linda Shirey, Ellen Davis, Tane Clark, Nancy Yahrous, Barbara Robinson, Shirley Waxman, Lily M. Chin, Sally Giles, Jemima Wyman. Plus unknown doillie makers and Chinese factory workers.

The Hyperbolic Crochet Reef Project has been supported by grants from the Annenberg Foundation, the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, and the Norton Family Foundation.

Visual Highlights of the Exhibition — a photographic walk-through.

The Science Gallery: Located on Dublin's busiest road, Pearse Street, the Science Gallery is formally part of Trinity College, Ireland's most prestigious academic center. Founded in 2008, the Gallery was established expressly for the purpose of doing exhibitions at the intersection of science and the arts. The setting of the gallery within the context of a college enables a unique collaboration between exhibit curators and the academic community. For every exhibition science and engineering students from the college are trained as "mediators" and work as on-site guides engaging visitors in lively discussions and demonstrations of the underlying science behind the works on show. 

The Bleached Bone Reef: In this exhibition the IFF presented for the first time a new super-white version of our original Bleached Reef (which is showing simultaneously at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum in Manhattan.) Both versions of this work are responses to the environmental tragedy of coral bleaching. The Bleached Bone Reef features a wondrous red and white coral tree by Australian contributor Quoin and a grouping of  impossibly delicate miniature beaded plastic bottles by our beloved NY contributor Nadia Severns.

The Toxic Reef:  In Dublin the plastic part of the Reef project occupied center stage, specifically covering the ground floor of the gallery. The gallery floor is itself a wonder - it is laid out in a striking pattern of Penrose Tiling (a mathematical pattern with unique geometric properties). For the Crochet Reef the setting couldn't have been more perfect as the mathematics here has resonances with the geometry underlying the Reef. Visually arresting the space asserts its own identity - it is the very opposite to the canonical 'white cube' - and in the case of the Reef the ensuing mix of styles adds up to aesthetic whole that is very much more than the sum of the parts. It is our favorite installation of the project so far that might best be described as Alice-in-Wonderland on Acid. This much expanded version of the Toxic Reef features a huge grove of video tape kelps by Christine and our dazzling Texas contributor Evelyn Hardin, plus a gorgeous constellation of new back-pink Jelly Yarn kelps by Kathleen Greco.

The Latvian Reef (detail). A special feature of the Latvian Reef, which is showing on the second floor of the Dublin gallery along with the Irish Reef, is several ingeniously composed hanging ‘pods’ that bring together the work of many individual Latvian crafters in an anthropomorphic dangling delight.

The Irish Reef: We had always known that the women of Ireland would bring a special Gaelic flair to the Reef and we weren't disappointed. During late 2009 and early 2010 women across Ireland began making corals, bringing to bear an extremely high level of craft skill. Over 5 months a massive amount of work was produced that in the final weeks was orchestrated into a series of beautifully color-coordinated mounds, including several very lovely white mounds - the Irish response to coral bleaching. In addition to the main installation, a selection of very fine Irish works were curated  on a separate pedestal as the Irish Precious Reef. All thanks to Irene Lundgaard and Orla Breslin for their brilliant spearheading and curatorial style.

The Irish Reef (detail) seen here at the top of the stairs on the Science Gallery's second floor.

Another vibrant ‘pod’ from the Latvian Reef, hanging in front of the IFF’s signature orange wall. In the background is our classic Carnation Coral Mound with Tendrils by Marianne Midelberg and Sarah Simons  and a glimpse through to the Ladies Silurian Green (Kelp) Reef.

Dr Axt's Pinkus Yellownicus - Mermaid's Wedding Cake. The inimitable Dr Axt (our most mysterious Contributor) has created another in her 'Reefer Madness' series of giant crochet coral mounds. This time the color-spectrum runs through flourescent pinks and yellows and the resulting pile richly deserves its fantastical name. In the background is another view of the Bleached Bone Reef.

A detail of one of the Latvian hanging ‘pods’. 

The Ladies Silurian Atoll newly curated for the Science Gallery with the classic Branched Anemone Garden in the background.

The "Maths Chapel": This special feature of the Dublin exhibition allowed us to focus on the mathematics behind the Crochet Reef Project. The room contained two original prints by M.C. Escher from his famous Circle Limit Series representing hyperbolic space, as well as a series of pedagogical crochet models by Dr. Daina Taimina. The Eschers were kindly lent by collectors who are friends of the Science Gallery - Ron and Barbara Cordova who lent Circle Limit III, and Mr and Mrs Paul Firos who lent Circle Limit IV. We thank the all for their generosity.

Surrounding the Math Chapel was the exhibition's ‘Holy Jewel Room' in which we displayed many of the Reefs finest works by our most skilled and dedicated Contributors, including our remarkable Beaded Reefers: Sarah Simons, Rebecca Peapples, Sue Von Ohlsen and Vonda N. McIntyre. Each work in the room was displayed in a small lighted vitrine like a series of reliquaries. The darkened space with its pools of light and the dramatic vista of the Penrose Tiling floor added up to an exquisite Jewel-like whole.

'Holy Jewel Room’ vitrine featuring new works by Arlene Mintzer from her Garden of Aqua Flora Collection.

'Holy Jewel Room’ vitrine featuring electroluminescent wire coral pieces by Eleanor Kent.

'Holy Jewel Room’ vitrines. On the left, a composition from the Beaded Reef, with pieces by Rebecca Peapples nestled in with iridescent models by Sue Von Ohlsen. To the right is a flotilla of Beaded Jellyfish by Vonda N. McIntyre.

'Holy Jewel Room’ vitrine featuring staghorn corals by our new Japanese contributor Mieko Fukuhara. Each of these delicately grown pieces has a small magnet crocheted into its ‘roots’ to make it elegantly free-standing! In the foreground is Sarah Simon’s tiny, precisely-designed Diatom Book.

'Holy Jewel Room' vitrine featuring beaded works by Anita Bruce and Pom-Pom Towers by Arlene Mintzer (also from her Garden of Aqua Flora Collection). 

The Holy Documents: For the first time, a selection from the IFF’s archive of ‘Holy Documents.' Since the Reef’s inception, we’ve been collecting correspondence and ephemera from our contributors. For this exhibition we displayed a dozen docs from the hundreds in the archive. These gave viewers a glimpse into the minds and studios of some of our most dedicated crafters.

Two of the ‘Holy Documents’: To the left are letters from Dr. Axt, while on the right are price tags from purchased doilies made by anonymous Chinese factory workers.

Curating the Irish Reef: Some of the prolific and talented Irish Reefers sorting through their many pieces of coral and organizing their mounds into separate colors.

Christine ‘hangs out’ with one of the Latvian pods as the sun goes down on opening day.

The Science Gallery Mediators: In order to elucidate the Reef exhibition, the Science Gallery’s mediators learned how to crochet. During gallery hours mediators were on hand to speak with visitors about the maths, science and ecological context for the show, as well as casually demonstrate hyperbolic crochet. They were a remarkable group of young men and women and the IFF extends its thanks to them all.