And She Built a Crooked House

Gemma Anderson-Tempini

Burton Grange
20 October 2023 - 28 January 2024

And She Built a Crooked House

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And She Built a Crooked House by Gemma Anderson-Tempini fills the rooms and garden at Burton Grange, a Victorian house in Far Headingley, Leeds. With this multifaceted installation, the artist takes audiences on a journey through the fourth spatial dimension that is part-factual, part-historical and part-autobiographical.    

An imagined space popularised in the nineteenth century, the fourth spatial dimension sits alongside the commonly-held understanding of a fourth dimension of time and has provided fertile ground for creativity and innovation for generations. In addition to physics, explorers of higher spatial dimensions span the fields of maths, art, literature, cinema and computing, with impact in quotidian places from children’s playgrounds to Victorian living rooms. 

Central features of fourth-dimensional theory include turning inside out, mirroring, and being in more than one place at the same time. These ideas resonate with the artist’s personal experience as a mother of twins and are recurring motifs in this body of work.

Anderson-Tempini synthesises large and complicated datasets through the act of drawing, bringing a unique perspective on how we relate to and understand our surroundings. In an age of rapid technological advancement, she champions the necessity of a human connection with our environment. Whether zooming in on the transformation of an embryo or giving form to the Big Bang, a desire to bring visual clarity to the nature of existence is a thread that runs throughout her practice.

For this project, Gemma Anderson-Tempini deftly brought together cutting-edge mathematical research, art, and motherhood to explore and make sense of personal human experiences through the lens of spatial thinking.

Image: Gemma Anderston-Tempini, And She Built a Crooked House, 2023. Photography by Jules Lister.

About Gemma Anderson-Tempini

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Gemma Anderson-Tempini

Born in 1981 in Belfast, Gemma Anderson-Tempini graduated from the Royal College of Art in 2007. She completed a practice-based PhD studentship at the University of the Arts London and University College Falmouth in 2015 and has been a Leverhulme Trust Artist in Residence at Imperial College London. In 2016 she won an AHRC award for the art/science/philosophy project 'Representing Biology as Process' with philosopher John Dupre and cell biologist James Wakefield (2017-2021) at the University of Exeter. She has published two peer review books with Intellect Press 'Drawing as a Way of Knowing in Art and Science' (2017) and 'Drawing Processes of Life' (2023).


Image: (left) 4d Mother by Gemma Anderson-Tempini, pencil on paper. 2023. (above) Portrait of Gemma Anderson-Tempini, photography by Jules Lister

Watch: Artist Film

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“In And She Built a Crooked House, there are many different experiences to bring us closer to the fourth spatial dimension and remind us that we can question further our relationship to the world and the nature of the universe.”

Gemma Anderson-Tempini discusses her most ambitious body of work to date, in which she invites audiences to experience the unseen realities of the fourth spatial dimension. From the world’s first 4D climbing frame to an infinite pile of laundry, Anderson-Tempini subverts the familiarity of the home to give form to higher dimensions.

Hear the artist discuss her commitment to drawing as the foundation of her practice, to the shifting roles of artist, academic and mother that have informed this work. The film also features contributions from collaborators Alessio Corti, Professor of Pure Mathematics at Imperial College London, and Dr Mark Blacklock, author and cultural historian.

Filming and editing by Tilly Shiner.

Imagine and Build Your Own Polytope

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Gemma Anderson-Tempini is an artist who imagines different types of space. In the rooms and garden of the exhibition And She Built A Crooked House, you can see geometric shapes similar to these, which appear in many of her artworks. These shapes are called polytopes, and Gemma has been imagining, drawing and building them for many years. Preview, download, and print out the activity sheet below and follow the instructions to create your own polytope.

A Manifold Dwelling

Essay by Dr Mark Blacklock
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From its first theoretical documents, n-dimensional space has fired the imagination. The mathematicians who began to allow a fourth dimension into their calculations to permit them more easily to solve certain problems, doing away with the experiential limitations of the three dimensions in which we live, could not escape the suggestive possibilities presented to them. Should we ever doubt that geometry itself is a creative discipline, describing forms and, at its origin, bringing them into being?

Read Dr Mark Blacklock's essay situating Gemma Anderson-Tempini's installation within the historical context of thinkers who have explored the fourth spatial dimension through mathematical research, visual arts, and literature.

And She Built a Crooked House, 2023. Photography by Jules Lister.

Mother Bang and the Last Russian Dolls

Story by Gemma Anderson-Tempini
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Suppose the Big Bang was not actually big at all, but rather it was small. The very first life forms that arose from this “small bang” were strings. When they were born, they were quite big relative to the size of the universe. Then as time went on, relative to us, who grow bigger in proportion to the world around us, strings have slowly become the smallest things that exist.

Read the full story, written by Gemma Anderson-Tempini, connecting String Theory and higher-dimensional geometry and the artist's everyday life:

Image: Gemma Anderson-Tempini in the hybercube room, part of And She Built a Crooked House. Photography by Jules Lister.

Artist Talk with Gemma Anderson-Tempini and Mark Blacklock

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This discussion between artist Gemma Anderson-Tempini and Mark Blacklock, novelist, and cultural historian took place on 21 October 2023 at Burton Grange, Leeds, the Victorian manor that houses the exhibition, And She Built a Crooked House. The conversation touches on the artist's practice and the themes of her exhibition, including the fourth spatial dimension, the artist's experience of motherhood, and links to theosophy. The event is be chaired by Mariam Zulfiqar, Director of Artangel.

Image: Front room at Burton Grange, where And She Built a Crooked House is situated. Photography by Jules Lister.

4D Reading List

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And She Built a Crooked House follows on from the rich history of thinkers who have forayed into the fourth spatial dimension through the lens of maths, physics, history, arts, and more. It offers an expansive backdrop for the exploration of the universe, unrestricted by the bounds of our earthly dimensions.

Want to contribute to the list? Join the conversation and let us know about the higher dimensional books you’ve been reading by posting your picks with hashtag #4DReadingList on either Instagram or X, and be sure to tag us.


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“…the hope is that people ignorant of the fourth spatial dimension might have some idea by the time they leave. Or even if they do not, they will have had fun trying to understand the idea.” - Mark Brown, The Guardian

“Artwork from another dimension” - The Yorkshire Post

"The frame is in the front garden of a huge, empty Victorian house in Leeds that Anderson-Tempini has transformed into a kind of string theory playground. There are drawings and installations in different rooms that are challenging but accessible and all exploring the scientific theory of the fourth spatial dimension..." - Mark Brown, The Guardian

“Artist Gemma Anderson-Tempini has transformed a Victorian house in Leeds with a new site-specific installation inspired by the long-studied scientific theory of the fourth spatial dimension.” - Mark Westall, FAD Magazine

"News in Pictures: Gemma Anderson-Tempini’s art installation, And She Built a Crooked House" - The Times

About the Venue

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About Burton Grange, Far Headingley

Burton Grange was built in 1881, one of a number of Yorkshire stone mansion houses that make up the Spinning Acres estate in Far Headingley. The rapid expansion of the textile industry in Leeds in the mid-19th century led to the growth of estates such as this on the outskirts of the city.

Wealthy merchants and industrialists sought opulent homes that would reflect their status and achievements, on higher ground away from the urban smog. Architectural details throughout the house point to its history, from the chapel on the first floor to the grand stained-glass window on the staircase. A local Methodist family, the Burtons, lend their name to both the house and the road it sits on. 



Who made this possible?

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And She Built a Crooked House is commissioned by Artangel and LEEDS 2023.

With thanks to Pickard Properties.

Artangel is generously supported using public funding by Arts Council England, and by the private patronage of The Artangel International Circle, Guardian Angels, Special Angels, and The Company of Angels.


LEEDS 2023's ambition is to deliver a transformational year of creative experiences connecting and benefiting people now and into the future. The planned programme will celebrate and transform the City’s identity locally, nationally and internationally – creating a lasting legacy of economic and social impact.  

LEEDS 2023 is run by the Leeds Culture Trust, an independent charity set up in 2019 by Leeds City Council as part of its Culture Strategy and as a response to the cancellation of the UK's participation in the European Capital of Culture competition.  

Leeds City Council recognises in a number of its key strategies the difference culture and creativity can make to a city and its citizens, and is the principal funder of LEEDS 2023. 

LEEDS 2023 is supported by Arts Council England and The National Lottery Heritage Fund. Thanks to National Lottery players for making this possible.