The overall purpose of this whole web site is to help make Mathematics seem a more attractive and useful subject to the general public. The current web site has grown from two web sites that have been maintained and developed by the Centre since 1995, and a CDRom produced for European Mathematics Year 2000.
One of the web sites was devoted to the beautiful work of the sculptor John Robinson, now found under Symbolic Sculptures, and their relationship with mathematics as brought out by Ronnie Brown, now separated under the title of Sculpture Maths. Their collaboration exemplifies how much Art can help, and has helped over the ages to dramatise those qualities of symmetry, balance and elegance which personify mathematics at its best. Leonardo da Vinci wrote: 'let no-one who does not understand mathematics read these words'. We rather want to achieve the opposite: let anyone who sees these pictures understand (the lure of) mathematics.
The other site was about Mathematics and Knots, and grew out of a travelling exhibition, constructed by Ronnie Brown and Tim Porter, which has toured the UK at various times. Knots form an excellent starting point for discussing mathematics because they are familiar to everyone, yet their basic problems do not require the sort of numerical mathematics which so often puts people off mathematics. Knots have turned up, for example, in the study of DNA and in Theoretical Physics, so they are not simply an entertaining pastime.
In the current section, we have followed the CDRom in branching out to include a small amount of additional material, built around the two themes of artistic appeal and practical usefulness, which have in fact guided the development of Mathematics down the ages. We hope with extra funding to develop these themes much more fully in the sort of dramatic manner exemplified by both John Robinson's sculptures and the fine animations of them by Nick Mee of Virtual Image.