Reading: 3 X abstraction : new methods of drawing by Hilma af Klint, Emma Kunz and Agnes Martin by

Klint, et al., 2005. 3 X abstraction : new methods of drawing by Hilma af Klint, Emma Kunz and Agnes Martin, New Haven, Conn. ; London: Yale University Press.

I wanted to read more about Kunz’s work since I realised how similar her drawings are to some cathedral architecture. Surprisingly the only book I could find on her in the library was this one, but it is actually very relevant to my work.

Chapter ‘Abstract’ by Catherine de Zegher

preceding the abstraction there is something from which the form has been drawn. While this something may be a concrete object in the phenomenological world, it could just as well be understood as the formation of an idea apart from any perceivable object in the phenomenological world.


^ This is what the structures I make in drawing and sculpture are.

Abstract art can be envisaged as an oscillation between the imagined and the concrete… with both to draw from and to draw form


Zegher goes on to say that the three artists in this book don’t approach abstraction ‘as a kind of formalism’, but as a way to structure ideas of philosophy, spiritual and scientific ideas. Kunz for example draws to connect ‘a cosmology of invisible forces’ – I love this idea!

These woman’s projects were aimed at summoning an ideality understood not only as a rational model of perfection but also as an emotional model of relinquishment… and response


Using drawing as a tool to elevate the mind. P.25

Their work was is inspired by an interest in nature and therefore human life.

A connection between the ‘physical phenomena and the spiritual universe’.

Using art as a bridge between the spiritual and the experimental makes sense to me. Abstracting things on a canvas that cannot be seen in the rest of life seems a way of capturing things that cannot be said with words. Things to consider in my work for sure. This is the kind of writing that I will read and only realise the total implications of it far from now! I wish I had more time in this project to read the book carefully, without a deadline fast approaching.

Emma Kunz similar to cathedrals looking up

I was doing the sketches for my paper mache sculpture and was using the book The Cathedrals of England by Clifton-Taylor as well as images of Emma Kunz’s drawings for reference. As I was looking through images I found two that were SO similar!


The left image on my laptop is of a drawing by Emma Kunz and the right image is in the book, of the ‘Central tower vault’ in Lincoln Cathedral.
– Both have square shapes with the centre exactly in the middle, multiple square shapes in different sizes surrounding this middle point
– Both have lines all converging at the centre
– Both have four arrow shapes that converge at the four corners of the outermost square.
– Both have an ‘x’ shape that is the backbone of the rest of the shapes.

When I saw Kunz’s drawings in person and imagined them being transformed into 3D ceilings, I didn’t expect that to be found so exactly! I would love to go and visit some of these cathedrals to see how these shapes play out in real life..

I wonder if it is a coincidence that Kunz’s drawings are so similar to Cathedral architecture! I know her work was about the universe and spirituality? But I don’t know too much more than that. I think I need to do some research on her work.

Reading: The Gothic Cathedral by Christopher Wilson

P.67 ceiling photo

P.115 cross section diagram of the intricate columns curving.

P.198 amazing photo of Ely Cathedral

There are incredible images in this book. Photos of interiors that really capture the sense of height and the canopy tree feeling.

There is so much text in this book, heavy writing about the history of these cathedrals, comparing gothic churches and examining the different periods of gothic architecture in cathedrals. But I’m not interested in reading it more than skimming over parts. I don’t think it will help me with my work sooooO yeh.

Reading: The Cathedrals of England by Clifton-Taylor

Clifton-Taylor, A., 1986. The cathedrals of England Rev., London: Thames and Hudson.

I want to understand Cathedrals more – their history both architecturally and culturally. This seems like a good book to start.

“Not until the development of iron and glass for building purposes were Englishmen to see still vaster spatial envelopes” not partitioned by supporting walls. Cathedrals were, for hundreds of years, the tallest buildings in England.

A cathedral is a building in which the principle man in the diocese, the bishop, has his chair of office. It need be neither large nor fine… England has always favoured large diocese, and not many of them; this made the cathedral, as the mother-church, a natural focus… and so enabled it to grow both in size and power.


Most cathedrals were built from the middle ages onwards and range greatly in style of architecture.

‘Romanesque’ was the style of art which came before the ‘Gothic’

Pages 34 & 35 – two photos of Norwich Cathedral and Ely Cathedral. The main roofs are strikingly different. Norwich Cathedral has delicate fan vaults which flow up and onto the roof, carrying the eyes up across and back down again in a sweeping glance. Ely Cathedral has columns on both sides that stop abruptly on reaching the ceiling, and the ceiling instead of being curved, is made of three flat angles and detailed flat decoration on the ceiling. Ely Cathedral may be just as tall as Norwich Cathedral, but Norwich Cathedral has so much more energy and magic.

Exeter Cathedral looks amazing. It is the longest church roof in England. P.150

The glory of Exeter is beyond doubt the vault. The effect has often been compared to an avenue of stately trees.


P.160 Wells Cathedral: The Lady Chapel vault – geometric and converging at single point in middle. Reminds me of Cassell’s sculptures. Lots of really useful images in here that I can use when designing my sculptures.

Wells Cathedral in Somerset – want to go.

P.176 – Image looking directly up at Lincoln central tower vault – Looks so much like a simpler version of one of Emma Kunz’s drawings! This is great inspo for my next design which I want to be influenced by her work, and this.
This type of tower is called a ‘polygonal corner-butress type of tower’.

P.182 – Another incredible tower called The Octagon (!!) at Ely Cathedral.

P.231 – Best example of fan-vaults yet at Peterborough Cathedral. Good image of looking directly up. This is the work of gothic architect John Wastell.

P.242 – I should make a trip to St.Pauls Cathedral when I am next in London, the interior dome is very like those heavenly paintings and baroque architecture I saw in central Europe (not very tree like but STILL).


I hoped this book was very much focussed on the architectural details of each Cathedral in England, but not so much on cultural or historical details. The images will be useful in considering shapes in my own designs. It just made me want to go see some of these cathedrals for myself!

I keep expecting to look at this architecture and have some breakthrough with my project and work. But I’m not. I’m thinking cool they look good, they’re amazing etc etc but not, wow this is really affecting my practice. Perhaps that is because these are pieces of architecture not paintings or sculptures! I have a few ideas of artists I want to look at, perhaps I should return to fine art more now, I have had lots of architecture inspiration, but I’m making fine art so that’s where I’ll be.

Architect: Antoni Gaudí

A Spanish architect who made the designs for the Sagrada Família in Barcelona. I realised I need to look at cathedral architecture more closely if I am to base my sculptures on them.

I listened to a podcast episode on the Sagrada Familia and how Gaudi came to design it. It discussed how Gaudi was very inspired by perfect structures in nature such as the tree, this was because he believed all these objects had been perfectly designed by God, and so he should use these shapes in his Cathedral to celebrate God’s designs.

Book: Solà-Morales, & Gaudi, Antonio, 1984. Gaudi, Barcelona: Poligrafa.

I picked this one because it includes lots of photos of Gaudi’s sketches and finished works, I want to know what else he designed and how his sketches translate to a finished work.

An essay the beginning of the book describes Barcelona at the time Gaudi started designing the Sagrada Familia:

Any relationship with nature had become difficult and remote, while the dynamism of the urban world was chaotic in its constant change. All security and order seemed to have vanished, giving place to an aggressive, competitive atmosphere, in which no amount of decorative magnificence could conceal the disturbing presence of the uncontrollable, the irrational and the contradictory.


This is interesting – the link between Gaudi’s architecture, nature and (urban) society.

Gaudi’s plans for a hotel in New Yorks towards the end of his life are magnificent! This incredible dome shape at the centre with smaller domes around it. Inside great cavernous rooms with dendriform shapes throughout. If it was ever built it would have been monumental.
The dome shape of the building is similar in style to my structures – in their tall height and dome shaped top.

On p.26 there is an amazing image of scale models for the Chapel of the Colonia Guell (which was built). These models look SO LIKE the ink structures I was making last term!!! A link to a similar image online:
The finished chapel doesn’t have quite the same dramatic structures as the model, but you can still see the dendriforms and canopy shape.

The idea of centralism is Gaudi’s spaces was a theme which grew to be more insistent as his architecture matured. However, the centre which his forms of architecture needed to specify was not, according to academic tradition, a geometric site defined by abstract symmetry. On the contrary, his utilisation of space is the result of an effort to aim programmes and structures in the direction of that cosmic and stable order which a centre has represented in almost all cultures. For Gaudi, the church had to be the site of centralism and of hierarchy.


Gaudi’s buildings as living organisms.

Gaudi was always interested in “the vertical development” of his buildings.

‘Parabolic dome’ the dome shape I made in my clay sculpture. Turns out there are lots of different names for different dome shapes! There’s a wikipedia page with the dome types listed with images, I’ll use this page when I’m thinking about structure designs in the future.

The Palacio Güell in Barcelona built by Gaudi has a gorgeous dome ceiling with small concentric hexagons going all the way to the top, with concetric holes in some of the hexagons and a bigger window and the top of the dome. The hexagon shapes remind me of Ross Bleckners paintings. I wonder if I could incorporate these ideas and shapes into my sculptures more?

Image no.67 in the book has a lovely simply roof that looks so organic and could easily be sculpted in clay. Shows how a simple, clean design can be very effective.