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.
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/