Welcome to another inspiring Lanchester Sketch Club. We’re continuing online, but we hope to be able to resume (socially-distanced) soon. Last month’s Sketch Club was about Making the Impossible – Possible and we look forward to sharing your artwork online on Twitter using the #CovSketchbook or tag us @lanchester_ia or via our Facebook page.
The SketchClub is a monthly space and time to be creative and sketch anything related to a different Lanchester-inspired theme. On the last Wednesday of every month the new theme will be revealed and this month we are Turning Circles!
Cogs, Wheels, Gears, Steering Wheel, Tyres even Dashboard dials – the circle is one of mathematics most useful and inspiring forms that Lanchester worked with through his designs, patent and drawings and relied on for the inner workings of his amazing inventions.
In art, design and invention, the turning of circles has captured the imagination since our earliest concepts of the stars and heavens were observed moving across the sky. The need to capture time through mechanical devices relied on these principles and artists have tried to convey the passage of time or speed and movement.
Alexandre Calder began making his mobiles in the 1930s. His work first used motorized or hand-cranked mechanisms, but then evolved to rely only on air for movement.
From fundamentals of flight to four-wheel-drive, Lanchester roll-call of firsts is as varied as it is long.
This art movement began in 1909 and incorporated the film and literature of the time. One of the principle aims was to convey movement and speed in the artworks
Aerial films of spectacular dance routines that whirl and turn were captured by the pioneering American film director and music cinematographer Busby Berkeley (1895 – 1976) These amazing feats of both dance and cinematography took turning circles to a new art and a global audience.
Op art (short for optical art) is a style of visual art that uses optical illusions. Typically, they give the viewer the impression of movement, hidden images, flashing and vibrating patterns, or of swelling or warping.
Astrology and astronomy
Astronomy is the oldest of the natural sciences, dating back to antiquity, with its origins in the religious, mythological, cosmological, calendrical, and astrological beliefs and practices of prehistory:
Ancient astronomers were able to differentiate between stars and planets, as stars remain relatively fixed over the centuries while planets will move an appreciable amount during a comparatively short time.
Even our on Stonehenge is believed to have been used to identify the first day of summer, the “summer solstice.” Ancient astronomers could use it to determine when the sun was rising in a certain direction.
An astronomical clock is one that offers more information than just the time; it can also give details such as the relative positions of the sun and moon, zodiacal constellations and even major planets! They usually represent some features of the solar system, from the basic forms of just the sun and the moon, to more complex constellation patterns and planet positions.
Lanchester’s obsession with smoothness led to developments way ahead of his time. From the fluid flywheel that eliminated clunky clutch plates to the worm gear that changed the direction of transmission efficiently and with the minimum of vibration.
Beauty can be seen within planetary gears and the design of an epicyclic gearbox as well as providing an elegant engineering solution to vehicle propulsion.
He wasn’t afraid to have fun though and in his driving guide from 1903, he gave instructions on how a driver could skid their Lanchester into a tight parking spot using an early form of handbrake turn!
Using the circular form, try to convey fluid motion in a drawing, painting or making. You could look at the use of cylinders and circles in creating form where artists analysed movement on film that captures these repetitive movement of angles such as the Futurists (Dynamism of Dog On A Leash). Paintings and drawings that try to capture rays of light emitted from the sun or stars in swirling patterns such as Van Gogh’s Starry Night or the many intricate and beautiful mechanical objects, clock faces and engineered mechanisms found around your area or in the galleries , museums and archives. Look at where mechanical forms interact in public sculptures, clocks or fountains. Even cars going around the roundabout or the spokes on a bicycle. Use a free movement of the arm to draw and trace these shapes in circular form. Get creative!