An Elemental Journey through the Periodic Table
- Quantum Victoria
- Raleigh Street Studios
- Damon Kowarsky
- Hyun Ju Kim
- Mathew Greentree
‘An Elemental Journey through the Periodic Table’ was commissioned by Quantum Victoria, a Centre of Excellence and Innovation in STEM Education in Macleod West, in celebration of International Year of the Periodic Table [IYPT] 2019. Across 51 hexagonal panels it presents an artistic interpretation of the formation of the elements in the universe after the Big Bang. It brings together the human endeavours of science, technology, engineering, mathematics, the humanities, art and politics, and offers visual representation of diverse ranges of knowledge and facts both as a placemaking installation and stepping off point for further enquiry to a wide audience.
Aesthetic excellence, design quality, and clear communication were the primary considerations of this project. The design process lasted several months and included back and forth consultation with the Quantum Victoria Director to ensure age appropriate scientific and educational accuracy, and alignment to the project brief. The integration of colour, information, and design were carefully considered to ensure internal coherence within each hexagon as well as the overall unity of the installation in the designated space of the Gallery at the Centre.
As ‘An Elemental Journey…’ is seen from ground level by students, staff, teachers, and visitors accessing a transitional space it was important that the designs work clearly at a distance, but also allow more considered inspection via a website and other publications. The primary impact was educational, with the choice of images offering numerous pathways for students to engage with Quantum Victoria’s specialisation, the physical sciences and mathematics through the STEM lens. The use of long-lasting and light stable materials ensures the project will retain its impact over and in excess of ten year period.
\’An Elemental Journey…\’ sought the highest standards for STEM based design and visual communication. In addition to a permanent installation at Quantum Victoria, images from the project were included in a keynote address by Emeritus Professor of Chemistry Frances Separovic AO at the IYPT Conference in Paris in July 2019. All 51 designs were featured in the Mendeleev150 Conference at ITMO University in St Petersburg, Russia, and at the Thailand National Science and Technology Fair in Bangkok. Images from the project have been integrated into the New Science Building at Edith Cowan University\’s Joondalup campus in Western Australia.
As the 51 hexagonal panels were already in place at Quantum Victoria it was vital to consider existing physical constraints. The project is located in a high traffic school environment that includes a ground floor Gallery space and second-floor balcony. The panels could only be accessed with a scissor lift so the designs were digitally printed onto a removable high quality and long-lasting fabric-based custom wallpaper. It was critical to the designers that the project be as much as possible handmade, and so the original designs were drawn using the traditional materials of pen, pencil, and watercolour.
Discussions are in progress with the Quantum Victoria Director for further commissions of the remaining 69 elements to be utilised on-site, online or in an augmented reality learning environment. An extended booklet publication with all 51 designs, explanatory texts, and image keys is currently in production.