Artist Gemma Anderson-Tempini has transformed a Victorian house in Leeds with a new site-specific installation inspired by the long-studied scientific theory of the fourth spatial dimension. Presented by Artangel, And She Built a Crooked House is open in Far Headingley, Leeds, from 20th October 2023 – 28th January 2024 as part of LEEDS 2023 Year of Culture.
The multifaceted installation spans all three floors and the garden of the unoccupied house, inviting visitors to journey through Anderson-Tempini’s interpretation of this imagined realm. A large-scale 4D children’s climbing frame – the first to be created from the fourth spatial dimension – is located in the front garden. Inside the house, intricate geometric drawings and sculptures increase in complexity as two-dimensional lines evolve into three-dimensional shapes. An installation that is part-factual, part-historical and part-autobiographical, And She Built a Crooked House offers a unique insight into the school of thought that has captivated thinkers for centuries.
Popularised in the 19th century, the idea of a fourth dimension is used in advanced physics to imagine an additional dimensional space that goes beyond tangible reality, a concept that has long-inspired creativity and innovation. In addition to physics, explorers of higher spatial dimensions span the fields of maths, art, literature, cinema and computing.
Central features of fourth-dimensional theory include the idea that an object could be turned inside out without breaking its shell, mirror symmetry, and the ability to appear more than one place at the same time. These ideas resonate with the artist’s personal experience as the mother of twins and are recurring motifs throughout the installation.
In And She Built a Crooked House, Anderson-Tempini brings together cutting-edge mathematical research, art and motherhood to explore and make sense of personal human experiences through the lens of spatial thinking.
In addition to Anderson-Tempini’s drawings and sculptures, audio and digital works are interspersed throughout the house. Alongside the children’s climbing frame, an education programme will focus on the connections between art, geometry, and spatial awareness. A public programme of events and workshops will be held in the chapel located inside the Victorian house.
The installation builds on the artist’s work with Alessio Corti, professor of pure Mathematics at Imperial College London and Director of the London School of Geometry and Number Theory, a joint venture by Imperial College, King’s College London, and University College London. Anderson-Tempini and Corti’s work visualised the fourth dimension through irregular polytopes, geometric shapes that house the strings of string theory in higher dimensions.
Anderson-Tempini is known for her intricate drawings, describing the process as ‘a way to confront the limits of what you think you know.’ Whether zooming in on the transformation of an embryo or visualising the big bang, Anderson-Tempini’s desire to bring visual clarity to the nature of existence is a thread that runs throughout her practice.
In a previous body of work, Anderson-Tempini synthesised drawing with microscopic observations and multiple data sets to reveal complex biological relationships, like those between an organism, cell, and molecule. In the digital age, as humans increasingly depend on computers to process large and complicated sets of data, Anderson-Tempini champions the act of drawing precisely because it creates and maintains a direct human connection with the world.
At a moment when the environmental and biodiversity crisis demands that people relate in radically new ways to the planet, Anderson-Tempini’s biological drawings invite viewers to connect deeply with the myriad neighbours with whom they share this planet.
Born in 1981 in Belfast, Gemma Anderson-Tempini graduated from the Royal College of Art in 2007. She completed a practice-based PhD studentship at the University of the Arts London and University College Falmouth in 2015 and has been a Leverhulme Trust Artist in Residence at Imperial College London. In 2016, she won an AHRC award for the art/science/philosophy project ‘Representing Biology as Process’ with philosopher John Dupre and cell biologist James Wakefield (2017-2021) at the University of Exeter. She has published two peer review books with Intellect Press ‘Drawing as a Way of Knowing in Art and Science’ (2017) and ‘Drawing Processes of Life’ (2023).
Gemma Anderson-Tempini, And She Built a Crooked House, 20th October 2023 – 28th January 2024 Burton Grange, 17 Burton Crescent, Leeds LS6 4DN
And She Built a Crooked House is commissioned by Artangel and LEEDS 2023. With thanks to Pickard Properties. Artangel is generously supported using public funding by Arts Council England, and by the private patronage of The Artangel International Circle, Guardian Angels, Special Angels, and The Company of Angels.