Tops of the Peridodic Table

What is it made of?

The idea of The Periodic Table takes the cosmos, distils it down, and lays out the pure components that comprise the physical universe. Each element is unique and individual. There is nothing as specific as carbon, so genuine as sulphur, nothing so true to its personality as lead. There is a beauty to this notion of purity. These elements are the building blocks for all we can see, touch and taste.

This series of sculptures illustrates the concept of purity through a series of identical, heart-shaped toy tops made from different pure base elements: calcium, tin, oxygen and so on. Some are cast and machined in metals ranging from aluminium to bismuth. Others such as the gasses krypton, neon and zeon, are contained in and top-shaped Pyrex vessels.

Elements of the Heart

Art and culture refer to "precious metals" of different kinds. "She has a heart of gold" denotes purity, a state of being, an elemental human quality. What are these metals encoded in the metaphors of art? If we could take art, boil it in a pot, collect, cool and condense its essential vapors, would we find some sort of pure substance? The distilled remains might be a fundamental human quality such as forgiveness, anger, passion.

Can we treat these "elements" similarly to the pure components of the periodic table, where each constituent is weighed, measured and quantified? Physicists smash one particle into another to examine the nature of matter. Art and literature similarly manipulate "elemental particles," basic human qualities -- examining love, hatred, greed and altruism. Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet functions as a particle accelerator; the element of love is smashed against the "substance" of prejudice--a traditional family feud. Examining the outcome of this collision gives us some idea of love's mass, energy, and the "sub-atomic particles" it's made of.

The series Tops of the Periodic Table ponders the actual "substance" of virtues such as justice. What is the atomic mass of hate? How do qualities like awe, greed or acceptance compare to "real" elements like carbon, iron and oxygen? Is compassion pure and indivisible like gold, or is it a compound made up of love and empathy...?




















Glass Heart


Glass Pb








Red Wax








Wood Top