Bridget Riley: Paintings and Related Work 24 November 2010 – 22 May 2011 Sunley Room, The National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, London Admission free British artist Bridget Riley is best known for her 1960s ‘op-art’ paintings: black and white patterns that appear to shimmer and twist as they play with the early visual processing system in the human eye. Riley’s later paintings exploit higher cognitive processes: provoking softer visual sensations rather than perceptive shock. An intimate exhibition at London’s National Gallery, running until May, shows how her experimental style is rooted firmly in the Western artistic tradition. Eleven of Riley’s abstract paintings, spanning her career, areRead More →


Last week I appeared on radio and in print, both in heavily edited forms. The editing process is like looking through glass: it distorts but you can still see what was meant. Tamsin Hughes, a BBC Radio 4 producer, telephoned me in October, and interviewed me two weeks later, for a couple of hours. The interview was used in a half-hour programme, “3D in Perspective,” broadcast on 7 December. Our two-hour conversation was edited down to four snippets, interwoven amongst three other interviewees and the presenter’s script. Tamsin put enormous effort into weaving a compelling story from hours of source material. I think she recordedRead More →

At midnight on the morning of Friday 1 October, I change from Dr Dodgson to Professor Dodgson. No ceremony. No fanfare. Just a quiet switch of title. It feels most peculiar. When I changed from Mr to Dr, there was a ceremony, in Latin, in a fancy building. I went in a Mr and came out a Dr. When my wife changed from Miss to Mrs, there was a ceremony, thankfully not in Latin, in a beautiful church. She went in a Miss and came out a Mrs. But this switch from Dr to Prof has no ceremony: it just happens. It has been aRead More →

In 1955, Tom Lehrer wrote The Elements, setting the names of all the then-known elements to the tune of the Major-General’s patter song from Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance. Lehrer’s song is prevented from being a useful pedagogic tool by the fact that he does not list the elements in order. When my daughter was one year old, I decided to see if I could entertain her by singing the elements, to the same tune, but this time in order. It certainly entertained me and had the beneficial effect that I can now remember the first four lines of the table perfectly. My daughter, nowRead More →