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[Perspectives] Exhibition Art of the elements

Although the chemical elements keep us alive, they play little direct part in our lives. In 1993, artist Simon Patterson spoofed the periodic table using white ceramic tiles—one per element—by replacing most of the proper element names with names of people who have no known connection with the element. So, while Cm (curium) remained linked with Marie and Pierre Curie, F (fluorine) became linked with Alexander Fleming, Hg (mercury) with Nell Gwyn, and Pb (lead) with Count von Zeppelin. Patterson’s work appears in Periodic Tales, an exhibition of art inspired by the elements that is probably the first of its kind.