Maths Craft 2017 kicks off in Christchurch

01 June 2017

Enjoy craft? Then you probably enjoy mathematics too – you just may not know it yet. Discover the maths behind craft and the craft behind maths at Christchurch’s first Maths Craft Day.

  • origami-icosahedron_SCI_block

    Aimed at adults as well as budding mathematicians and younger crafters, the Christchurch Maths Craft Day will be held in the Great Hall and the Teece Museum of Classical Antiquities in UC Arts at the Arts Centre on Sunday, 18 June.

Enjoy craft? Then you probably enjoy mathematics too – you just may not know it yet. Discover the maths behind craft and the craft behind maths at Christchurch’s first Maths Craft Day. 

Armed with knitting needles and origami paper, a team of academics led by University of Canterbury mathematicians Dr Jeanette McLeod and Dr Phil Wilson have gathered to kick off a national Maths Craft tour to uncover the beautiful maths behind the art.

“Maths is often overlooked as a subject of beauty and imagination, with many people viewing it as boring, irrelevant and downright unpleasant,” Dr McLeod says.

“However, by using craft as a medium, from clothing to ancient Greek art, we aim to introduce adults and children alike to a new and fun way of engaging with mathematics.”

Aimed at adults as well as budding mathematicians and younger crafters, the Christchurch Maths Craft Day will be held in the Great Hall and the Teece Museum of Classical Antiquities in UC Arts at the Arts Centre on Sunday, 18 June.

The day will include three public talks:

  • Associate Professor Clemency Montelle, Mathematics and Statistics, University of Canterbury: The symmetry of a sari and other mathematical properties of your clothes you didn’t know about
  • Professors Bernd Krauskopf and Hinke Osinga, Applied Mathematics, University of Auckland: Chaos in Crochet and Steel
  • Senior Lecturer Patrick O'Sullivan, Classics, University of Canterbury: The Measure of All Things: Myths, Maths and Other Aspects of Greek Art (to be held in the Teece Museum)

“We have partnered with the University of Canterbury’s College of Arts, including the Classics department, and hope to promote the mathematics behind the ancient artefacts in the Teece Museum of Classical Antiquities, which opened recently. Patrick O’Sullivan’s talk in particular is aimed at this,” Dr Wilson says.

Dr O’Sullivan’s illustrated talk will focus on how the ancient Greeks incorporated numbers, ratios and proportions into their poetry, architecture and visual arts: from Homer’s great epic poem on Troy, The Iliad, to iconic buildings such as the Parthenon and sculpture from the ‘High Classical’ period (c. 450-400 BC).  Examples of ancient Greek artworks from the Logie Memorial Collection in the Teece Museum, which embody some of these concepts, will feature in this talk.

“The Greeks constantly altered and extended such formulas to enhance the emotional and psychological impact of their art and poetry: humanity, no less than maths, was the measure,” Dr O’Sullivan says. 

Following the success of the inaugural 2016 Maths Craft Festival at the Auckland War Memorial Museum, which attracted almost 2,000 people, the Maths Craft team was this year awarded $120,598 from MBIE’s Unlocking Curious Minds fund to expand Maths Craft.

Dr McLeod and Dr Wilson, together with other academics and PhD students, will be touring New Zealand this year, raising interest in maths through their quirky brand of maths outreach. 

UC Senior Lecturer Dr McLeod, who has knitted and crocheted various mathematical objects from Möbius strips to intricate coral-like hyperbolic planes, is keen to share her passion for maths as the language of science. While she’s usually dealing with combinatorics; in particular, asymptotic enumeration, Latin squares, graph colouring and random graphs, she’s also an accomplished crafter and crocheter.

“Through these events, we’re keen to show people how maths underpins almost every aspect of today’s society. Whether it’s used in crafts, technology, business, science, social science or education, maths is vital,” she says.

Also a senior lecturer in UC’s School of Mathematics and Statistics, Dr Wilson is more usually found working in theoretical fluid dynamics and mathematical modelling in biology and industry.

“It’s amazing seeing people realise that maths is everywhere,” he says.

In addition to the Maths Craft Day in Christchurch on 18 June, there will be a Maths Craft Festival at Auckland War Memorial Museum on the weekend of 9 - 10 September, as well as in Dunedin on 11 February 2018 at Otago Museum.

Maths Craft Day, free entry, all welcome,10am to 5pm on Sunday, 18 June, in the Great Hall at The Arts Centre, 2 Worcester Blvd Christchurch.

Visit the Maths Craft website for more information and upcoming events in Auckland and Dunedin: www.mathscraftnz.org. Also on Facebook, Ravelry, and Twitter #mathscraftnz

For further information please contact:

Margaret Agnew, Senior External Relations Advisor, University of Canterbury
Phone: +64 3 369 3631 | Mobile: +64 275 030 168margaret.agnew@canterbury.ac.nz
Tweet UC @UCNZ and follow UC on Facebook

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