Pb 82 words on lead

A rare venture into poetry – etched in lead …

The University of South Wales is losing its sculpture workshop. How often when I was there, as a student and then as a lecturer, did I marvel at things I glimpsed through a high window: busts, twisted metals, curious objects of all kinds.

To mark the end of this era, Nigel Talbot has produced an installation on the Periodic Table using items found within the decommissioned sculpture workshop. It’s on view at Oriel y Bont, the gallery on the ground floor of Tŷ Crawshay on the Trefforest campus.

I was one of those invited to pick an element from the Periodic Table and write a short piece. We told that up to 100 words would be etched into wood but one by Barrie Llewelyn is on glass and its image will be enlarged as a projection, while mine is on lead.

82 words on Pb – Lead

We were invited to respond in terms of metaphors inspired by the chosen element, but mine took a more literal turn as I chose to think about the lead shot in the environment that has caused the deaths of millions of water fowl.

I restricted to myself to just 82 words on the subject. 82 is the atomic number of lead and its symbol is Pb. Think of the plumber, who once worked with lead pipes. I could have talked about swinging the lead, or plumbing the depths but instead thought about the way that water birds scoop up lead shot assuming they are eating the kind of stones they need to grind their food. I was helped by an expert witness who, having performed many post-mortems on wild birds, said that it took only one or two lead pellets to kill a duck. Officially, it is no longer legal to shoot lead shot over water in the UK, but what is there is not going away, and there hasn’t been a total ban on lead shot, as it can still be used for land-based hunting (at least that’s my understanding – I’d be glad to know I’m wrong!).

The exhibition is on show until November 15 and the gallery is open weekdays until 4.30 pm. Entry is free. The building itself, Tŷ Crawshay, was once the home of the wealthy Crawshay family and is perhaps the most interesting on campus. Contributions are from Marina Lowdice, Nichola Goff, Sharon Magill, Barrie Llewelyn, Luz Erika Chick, Tiffany Oben, Robert Oros, Tony Curtis, Malcolm Lewis, Katy Giebenhain, Cerys Jones, Nigel Talbot, and me, Maria Donovan.

If you’re in the Cardiff area or going by Trefforest, perhaps you will pop in and have a look. And if not, please use the link below to see the strange treasures of the now to be much missed sculpture workshop – the passing of another era. Sigh. https://gallery.southwales.ac.uk/whats/

9 thoughts on “Pb 82 words on lead

    1. Yes that would be a good thing but I am not sure it is heritage ready – until recently it was all just everyday stuff in the sculpture workshop. An industrial museum with a permanent collection might like some of it. There’s such a place in Gent with items like phones, vacuum cleaners and TVs I remember from my youth. Maybe some will go to Pontypridd museum.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. What a clever premise – both for the overall project and for your piece within it. It deserves to be appreciated by many and for as long as possible. I hope it is preserved beyond the end of the exhibition.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Sandra. I will have to find a home for mine! Sadly the whole installation will be dismantled and some things sold off. It’s all ‘stuff’ from the old workshop. End of an era … Many curious things. I rather like the ‘Eyewash Station’ – but where would I keep it?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh dear, I can see the problems. I’m sure the whole thing has been preserved in some form and hopefully a fair bit will be preserved in various creators’ locations. Hope you find the right place for your piece, Maria 🙂


  2. Love your poem, Maria, both as a sculpture, and in its own right.

    The event sounds fascinating. If I was closer, I’d love to see it. Wouldn’t it be nice if it could go on tour. I suppose that kind of thing would be expensive to organise.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Cath. I don’t often try poetry but I might do so again. I think you’re right: it would take a degree of organisation and funding to take this on tour. As far as I know the installation will be broken up and some things from the sculpture workshop sold on. Unless someone wants to buy the lot! This was a last hurrah as the university says goodbye to one of its creative disciplines. That’s making me feel very sad! I expect videos and pictures of the event will survive.

      Liked by 1 person

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