Both disciplines should be treated as connected and collaborative endeavours
The team and I have been looking forward to this issue for months. The reason is obvious: the theme is ‘chemistry and art’. Note that we use ‘and’ to connect ‘chemistry’ with ‘art’, rather than ‘in’, or worse ‘vs’. This is deliberate. It allows us to place both disciplines at the same level, in the belief that they should be treated as connected and collaborative endeavours, which occasionally marry to create inspiring experiences that stimulate the imagination of artists and scientists alike.
As you know, we often write about art-related chemistry (see, for instance, Raman reveals Renoir’s true colours), so this issue gives us an opportunity to analyse some of these stories in a bit more depth. It’s also an excuse to be indulgent with the imagery we use so you’ll see some spectacular photography, going from prehistoric art or a more classical Monet to a photo of Seizure 2008. Seizure is a personal favourite of mine by Roger Hiorns. It is an ex-council flat in London, UK, whose walls, floors and ceilings were completely covered in blue crystals after 75,000l of copper sulfate solution were pumped into the dwelling, winning Hiorns a nomination for the Turner prize in 2009.
Since art is a topic that Philip Ball explores occasionally in his column, ‘The crucible’, he is best placed to kick this issue off. He does this beautifully, with ‘The colourful science’, a feature about the chemistry of pigments and dyes. Here’s a quote that will whet your appetite: ‘Art has benefitted immensely from chemistry, but many advances in chemical technology – including the birth of the entire modern chemicals industry – have in turn depended on the social demand for colour.’
In ‘Art imitating life’ we profile the sculptor Briony Marshall. We’ve reviewed one of her exhibitions in the past and we thought this was the perfect opportunity to examine her career and how she made the transition from biochemist to artist. We also profile the National Gallery’s team of analysts, who routinely put masterpieces under the microscope and protect them for posterity. And if this wasn’t enough, we have features on art conservation, detective work in art, and more. You can also keep an eye on the chemistry and art page of the website during July because we have a number of video interviews that you may be interested in. The one I’m most excited about is with another scientist turned artist and father of the contraceptive pill, the legendary Carl Djerassi. He tells us about life beyond chemistry and his experience as a playwright.
Partnership with Scientific American
In other news, I’d like to announce that Chemistry World has entered into partnership with Scientific American, the popular science magazine. The collaboration means that selected cutting edge content from Chemistry World will appear on the Scientific American website. This will allow us to reach new and diverse audiences and also support one of our more fundamental goals and ambitions, namely helping educate future generations of scientists via the dissemination of high quality scientific information.