Nicola Rae: Covalency, 2023
APT Gallery, 6 Creekside, London SE8 4SA. 23rd Nov - 3rd Dec 2023.
Co-curated by Paul Malone and Nicola Rae.
Curation assistance by Haoyue Chen.


A series of drips falling into shallow tanks of water create surface waves that interact in complex overlapping patterns. Using focused rays of light, these ripples are refracted and reflected onto the surrounding walls. An analogy is proposed concerning the visualisation of subatomic particle processes as interacting clouds of probability orbiting the nucleus of an atom. The drips generating the ripples could be seen as protons within the nucleus and the waves as a series of nested orbits that radiate to form interacting electron clouds. Valency is the capacity to combine to form molecules and compounds. In this context, valency could be analogised visually as an interacting exchange of electron 'clouds of probability' binding compounds together.

The water molecule is a covalent compound as its oxygen atom shares a pair of electrons with two hydrogens. Covalency reflects the shared nature of the conceptualisation of this project as analogy for 'Valency', through observation and discussion with Paul M. Covalency also refers to the two concepts for this work. The second concept references the calculated probability that dripping taps in the UK lead to the loss of 460 million litres of water per year (or 184 Olympic-sized swimming pools). Using recycled bottle drip irrigation systems developed for watering plants, the physics of altering the speed of the drips has been experimented with over a length of time.



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