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‘Kathleen Hyndman: A Mathematical Artist and Her Lifelong Task’ exhibition at Clare Hall

20 December 2023 College life

Clare Hall is proud to present a memorial exhibition of the work of Kathleen Hyndman (1928-2022), running until 11 January 2024 in Clare Hall’s Main Building. Her art is made powerful by her adoption of a constructed and sequential approach. ‘My work often originates from natural effects,’ she once said, instancing trees in the mist, shadows, or movements of water. But these visual stimuli are then transposed into various geometrical and mathematic sequences of tone, colour, rotations, intervals and shape.

Counterpoint, 1973

She trained at Kingston-on Thames School of Art. Afterwards, she gradually established herself as a professional painter, while working as a teacher of art and living a very full family life, with husband and two children. She began exhibiting regularly, in this country and abroad as a Constructivist. If in recent years her name has been absent from artistic narratives, her art continues to call for attention; and in her 90th year, in 2018, interest in her work was reawakened by a solo exhibition in Oxford University’s Saïd Business School.

Above: Roosting Starlings: Marazion: Meeting, 1999 One of a series of six works on the roosting of starlings, created using a concentric circle and straight parallel line format.

Left: Gulls and Flags, 2003-2010 One of Hyndman’s last completed paintings which she worked on over several years

The mind-and-eye control in the execution of these hand-made works is breath-taking. It becomes evident that behind this intercourse between mathematics and art is an unremitting search for truth.

Professor Martin Kemp FBA, an art historian and one of the world’s leading scholars on Leonardo da Vinci, writes, in the catalogue to this show, about Hyndman’s use in her art of mathematics. Yet he also asks: ‘Do we need to understand Hyndman’s mathematical procedures to appreciate her paintings? The answer is that we do not need undertake mathematical analysis to appreciate the beauty of a turbinated sea shell or the packing of seeds in a sunflower head. The maths is necessary for nature’s operations, just as it is for Hyndman’s creative processes. It is not necessary for our acts of looking. But it is remarkable, as are the truly notable results.’

Above: Damp Breeze, 1977

Right: Purple Cloud and Reflection, 1978

For more about art at Clare Hall, visit