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Sunderland Repository records the research produced by the University of Sunderland including practice-based research and theses.

Colour Columns: Grosseteste in Glass [Research portfolio]

Watkinson, Cate (2018) Colour Columns: Grosseteste in Glass [Research portfolio]. Artefacts inspired by the Ordered Universe Project.

Item Type: Other


Colour Columns I,II,III and IV
Colour field – with Colin Rennie
Clara obscura
De Colore, De Iride
Clara obscura
Clara obscura 1


Watkinson, Cate and Rennie, Colin (2018) Embodied Light exhibition, JCR Art Gallery Pembroke College Oxford. [Show/Exhibition]

Rennie, Colin and Watkinson, Cate (2017) ‘Illuminating Colour’ exhibition with Colin Rennie at the main gallery of the National Glass Centre, Sunderland. [Show/Exhibition]

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Additional Information: The research contained in the artwork for Colour Columns takes inspiration from ‘De colore’, one of a number of texts on natural phenomena written by the 13th century thinker Bishop Robert Grosseteste (c.1170-1253). Colour Columns was made from cut and polished coloured glass blocks, assembled to form four 1.5m columns and created as part of a series of artistic responses in glass, revealing the interface between colour and light. ‘Colour Columns’ focused on Grosseteste’s evolution of the notion of a three-dimensional understanding of colour as light embodied in a diaphanous medium and the research culminated in a major joint exhibition (with Colin Rennie) at the National Glass Centre, Sunderland called ‘Illuminating Colour’, attracting over 20,800 visitors. The work rephrased Grosseteste’s theories in physical form, bringing complex ideas to a wider audience, highlighting a new way for the public to engage with art, science and history. It took academic research beyond the laboratory or library, broadening and deepening understanding by posing different, searching questions about the material of glass and light. In doing so, it transformed and reconstructed important but little understood historical ideas and, in the process, explained modern ones too. This research was developed through interdisciplinary collaborations between members of ‘The Ordered Universe,’ a grouping of medieval specialists, modern scientists at the universities of Durham, Oxford and Sunderland (Dr Cate Watkinson and her colleague, Colin Rennie). A paper discussing the Colour Columns was presented at Napa Lighted Festival, California, January 2019, Trinity College, Dublin and Pembroke College, Oxford. This paper was selected for publication in the peer reviewed volume Robert Grosseteste: Nature, Craft and Society. Articles in the Independent and online journal The Conversation further disseminated the research.
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Depositing User: Leah Maughan


Item ID: 13240

Users with ORCIDS

ORCID for Cate Watkinson: ORCID iD

Catalogue record

Date Deposited: 02 Mar 2021 12:11
Last Modified: 11 Mar 2023 04:30


Author: Cate Watkinson ORCID iD

University Divisions

Faculty of Arts and Creative Industries > School of Art and Design

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