Fractals are geometrical entities characterised by basic patterns that are repeated at ever decreasing sizes. They are relevant to any system involving self-similarity repeated on diminished scales (such as a fern's structure).

Stephen Wolfram (the creator of Mathematica) in his book “A New Kind of Science” described how, with the use of a computer, complex patterns could be created by repeating a simple pattern 110 times (Rule 110). Given that a computer could generate a complex pattern, I asked myself, “Could it be possible to generate a complex painting using the same principle”  - e.g. – beginning with a simple colour and pattern and generating complexity.

I began by placing colours on a sheet of steel and glass and then by transferring them onto sheets of Perspex against glass. The result was not immediately evident, but after producing about twenty of these plates, some common elements emerged. These were branch like filaments – a curious and unexpected result produced from what was nothing more than a brush mark. The task then was to transpose these fractal brush marks and create meaningful images using them as a foundation.

Once I had recognised fractals, I began to see them everywhere, sometimes in most unexpected places. It became apparent that many observers from different ages also noted the existence of these branch like forms. They appear in Chinese art.  Leonardo da Vinci had recorded them in Mountain forms and river streams. Medical text books also abounded with fractal networks in illustrations of blood vessels and brain patterns. Nature revealed fractal patterns in stands of trees in a forest, cloud formations, oceans and virtually whatever one cared to examine. From this endless source of inspiration, the fractal paintings were born, with the technique being perfected over hundreds of small experiemental panels using oil paints in a variety of mediums. 




Since Nick has requested the hard copy of my speech, I take the opportunity of adding a list of websites prepared by Peter Pellionisz, son of my colleague and fractal expert, Dr. Andras Pellionisz.  I am grateful to Dr. Pellionisz for introducing me to the worlds of fractals and of non-Euclidean geometry.

- Dr. Malcolm Simons




(work in progress.)



The study of plant structures, mountain ranges and other natural phenomena reveal a series of re-curring fractal patterns which when assembled in three dimensions can produce sculptural works of simple, organic beauty. Sierpinski's Triangle (above) is a great example of a fractal, and one of the simplest ones. It is recursively defined and thus has infinite detail. It starts as a triangle and every new iteration of it creates a triangle with the midpoints of the other triangles of it. From the Sierpinksi triangle that is divided in a way that mirrors the proportions of the original triangle, an infinite number of triangles can be created.  Having been originally trained as an architect, I was drawn to experiment with a set of these triangles and examine their potential to generate ‘organic’ architecture. This concept is still at an early stage of development but produces some very interesting spaces and forms which could be rationalized into full scale buildings. Taking the concept further there’s no reason why branch like structures could not be created to form building envelopes and depending upon there inter-connectedness one could assume very rigid structures being developed from light weight fractal filaments.



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