Recently, 79 Australian chemistry professionals & 38 Tasmanian printmakers collaborated to create the periodic table of elements for the Royal Australian Chemical Institute. I was one of the artists invloved. My three allotted elements for the project were Selenium, Chromium and Indium. I created 2 plate intaglio collograph prints for each of the elements. My process began by taking photographs of the subject matter or creating a drawing and making papercuts from the photos or drawings. I collaged the papercuts directly to a cardboard matrix and add detail with a drypoint tool and stanley knife. My collages are then covered with shellac and hand printed in the usual intaglio manner by using an etching press.
Selenium (Se34): I investigated the area of food science to formulate my image for Selenium. Selenium plays a key role in the functioning of the human immune system and thyroid gland. The trace element is also needed for successful reproduction. We have naturally occurring selenium in our bodies and it is also available in a number of foods. A selenium rich source of food is the Brazil nut. I have portrayed this orbicular hard shelled fruit containing the triangular, wrinkled seeds known as Brazil nuts.
Indium (In 49): The bottles in this print represent Indium supplements which are available in liquid or tablet form for human consumption. There is great debate regarding Indium and human health. In some circles it is hailed as a miracle dietary supplement with multiple claims of beneficial therapeutic results. Scientific literature, however, does not support these testimonials.
Chromium (Cr 24): I have depicted an audio cassette tape for the Chromium element. Chromium dioxide or chromium(IV) oxide is a synthetic magnetic substance used in the manufacture of magnetic tape emulsion. Chrome tape is considered by many to be the most perfect magnetic recording tape available. This is due to the way in which the chromium dioxide crystals can be evenly and densely dispersed in the magnetic coating which leads to unparalleled low noise performance in audio cassette tapes.
(See my previous post “expressing chemistry through art” for a bit more info regarding this printmaking project. The complete periodic table of elements can be viewed on the RACI website. Follow these links – http://www.raci.org.au/raci-news/periodic-table-on-show-launch & http://www.raci.org.au/periodic-table-on-show)