"The fact is”, says Professor Richard Weston, “that nature is the earth’s greatest living artist. Always has been, always will be - and, in fact, a lot of human creativity is drawn from - some would say copied from, others inspired by - nature."

That's why we never tire of the imaginative variety we find in nature, not least in minerals, which despite billions of chaotic years, present beauty and order of the highest aesthetic standard.

Earth is a dynamic planet in a state of constant change – what geologists call the rock cycle - and igneous rocks and minerals, for example, are created at high temperatures and high pressures deep in the Earth’s crust, so are often inherently unstable in the cold, wet conditions at the surface with weather chemically breaking down their constituent minerals. Physical processes are also at work: volcanoes destroy the land and pollute the atmosphere, ocean waves pound coastal cliffs, glaciers reduce granites to rock flour, and rivers carve vast canyons. Indeed, some minerals, such as the Paesina Stone, look uncannily like real landscapes. So each image we produce is a graphical representation of this story played out at the molecular scale.

Artists and artisans, designers and manufacturers, have always “mimicked” nature, often without knowing it, and the power of nature seems deeply embedded inside our heads. Take colour and pattern: why do we like that one and not another? Why do we find that restful, and that disturbing? Why does that make us feel better and that not?

It seems likely that what mankind first worshipped, and believed in, was the power of nature – and our ancestors invested power in particular places, rocks, trees, animals etc. So we have a history of such beliefs, and if you believe in the efficacy of something enough, then it can produce ‘miracles’.
Precious stones have always been seen to have particular power as well as beauty, and over time that power became shared and eventually transferred to the colour of those minerals, so it was not just opal that had power, but Opal Green, not just Turquoise but Turquoise Blue. Our responses over the generations have been transferred to those natural colours just as our brains recognise the patterns in minerals – banded agates etc – and respond to them.
From all this miraculous chaos over billions of years, we are able, through the “magic” of digital technology, to produce images that present order and beauty at a molecular scale, and so perhaps it’s not a surprise that some mineral images stimulate such powerful and instinctive responses in us.

For a more comprehensive explanation of how the minerals have been formed, see Formations, Images From Rocks, by Richard Weston. You can buy a copy here.