Art Imitating…Science?


Conrad Hal Waddington, whose papers I am currently cataloguing, had interests which went far beyond science and genetics, as can be seen from an essay he wrote in 1923 while still at school. Titled ‘Alchemy’, it contains a history of the subject as well as some hand drawn occult illustrations (as depicted).

In fact, Waddington had a wide variety of interests throughout his life, including art – so much so that he published a book on the subject in 1969, Behind Appearance – as well as architecture (he married the architect Justin Blanco White). As well as appreciating art for its own sake, Waddington liked to see the scientific in art and the art in the scientific. In a lecture called ‘Form and Pattern In the Biological World’ (which Waddington delivered to the Architectural Association on 29 May 1958), Waddington commented:

Many recent writers on biological form have emphasised the fact that living things often produce shapes which are rather precisely geometrical, and which in fact come  near to belonging to the realm of intellectual abstract configurations.

And as you can see from the pictures, Waddington was not short of some artistic talent himself!

4 thoughts on “Art Imitating…Science?

  1. I’ve actually written an article about Waddington as an artist and located (through his daughters) some of his paintings. I would very much like to reproduce the drawings you show here. Could you contact me about how to obtain TIFF reproductions and permission? Bob Root-Bernstein, Ph. D., Dept. of Physiology, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824 USA;

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