With appropriate timing we just had a delivery of rather magical foldable star structures from Massachusetts. I used these beautiful objects as props in some recent photographs and I wrote recently to John Kostick, the designer and maker, to tell him how much I appreciated their simple and yet totally fascinating structural qualities. The stars came out of explorations John made in the early 1960’s, whilst a student of Physics he became very interested in a concept Buckminster Fuller called ‘tensegrity’. The sculptor Kenneth Snelson who used it to produce seemingly impossible structural sculptures, called it ‘floating compression’, a name I find far more evocative.
John Kostick’s stars came from investigating this ‘floating compression’ idea, John says: “The basic idea, the story of the stars, is that I found it inspiring that one could build objects that are mathematically elegant and have structural integrity, working with simple, readily available components, and using basic tools and techniques. These wire sculptures are stable, yet flexible, expressions of spatial symmetry that do not require any precision machining, casting, etc. The intent was, and still is, to make the geometry and physics that are expressed through the stars accessible and appealing. They are a kind of fusion of science and art”
Whilst exploring the internet briefly for background I thought of ‘Skylon’ which was built in 1951 for the Festival of Britain, held on London’s South Bank, next to the Royal Festival Hall and opposite the Houses of Parliment, this led me to look at the Millenium Wheel or London Eye as it is now known, built 49 years later on almost exactly the spot as Skylon briefly existed. London Eye uses similar principles as Skylon and from certain perspectives has passing visual similarity, I wondered how much the architects had been inspired by Skylon as an object or social statement of celebration.