The Animals as Elements art series started for me, like some of my art as a reaction to another similar art project another artist was doing. In there case, so they were depicting the elements anthropomorphically as humans or human-like animals or as mythical generally human shaped animals.
I thought, hey what if I drew the elements as if they were animals? And so Animals as Elements was born. In the beginning, they started as A5 cards that I used to depict the element and the animal in an abstract or surreal depiction. I never felt that made it real enough. These elements are as real as the animals I am using to relate to them. I want people who see this art to get that relationship between our real world, our abstraction of the real world and the strange world that exists in-between. Eventually, I was led to me depicting each element as related to an animal.
Elements as Animals wasn’t a great name for the series, so I decided to make the series named Animals as Elements.
Within my art, I try to depict connections, as well as the subject. I also try and bring a certain rawness, an unspoken truth of the reality that is faced.
I hope you enjoy each elemental depiction and my reasoning behind each one. This art series has been a work of love and taken me five years to make and will appear as a zine for purchase in due course.
Yours in art,
Indium is fairly toxic but very useful element whose main use is in LCD monitors and similar screens such as those used in mobile devices, TVs, and other liquid crystal displays. It’s also used in bearings and vacuums tube chambers. The glowworm is similar to Indium in that it’s glowing effect comes from its food (so electricity and crystal bonds in Indium case) to produce photosynthesis. Though most glowworms are omnivores, a few are carnivores, using their colonies of glowing bacteria in their rear to attract moths and insects to a long thread of silk like a spiders web, then eating it at their leisure.
Tin is a useful binding metal that has been used for centuries. Its widespread use has mostly been applied in making Pewter and in Solder. It’s fairly non toxic and has one of the most numbers of isotopes of any metal. Vipera Latiffi is a viper that lives exclusively in Iran, and it’s associated with Tin as its highly likely the Tin was discovered and first used near its native range.
Silver is an uncommon metal element that is mostly used decoratively and in jewellery. Though it is used in solar panels, water filtration, circuitry, and in radio and radar technologies. It has the lowest contact resistance and highest electrical conductivity of any known metal, and its applications are getting more widespread within the computer electronics and electric generation industries.
Foxes are a versatile candid like animal, though some are more closely related to voles than dogs they are my favourite creature bar none. The common phrase “a silver fox” is pretty much all it took to get its association with this element but I’m sure you can find plenty more.
The Golden Eagle is a common bird of prey that lives all round the northern hemisphere. It’s much like Cadmium in its commonality. It preys small rodents, occasionally other birds and carrion.
Cadmium is often a byproduct of the zinc refining process and is used in glass plating and used to be used in batteries. Cadmium is somewhat toxic and has some long-lived isotopes and can be bio reactive causing damage to cells and cancer in fallout post-nuclear bombs or meltdowns.
Rhodium is a rare earth metal that is often used to keep various other more volatile silver colored metals from corrosion. It also plays a part in catalytic converters in cars and other petroleum based engineers. It’s also used to measure Neutron Flux in nuclear power plants.
The Beewolf is a wasp species that specifically feeds or lays it’s eggs specifically in bees. It’s hunting is not very much like the wolf, mostly being a solitary wasp. It’s similarity to rhodium is mostly in this behaviour to be a loner, rhodium doesn’t really react and is very none corrosive.
Palladium is similar in its use in catalytic converters. It’s also a metal with heavy investment stock and interest in capture by recycling. It is the first part of a car to be recycled due to its rarity.
The Horse is another animal that attracts heavy investment an attention. Almost completely domesticated, the horse is now bred to race but it used to be humman’s main beast of burden. Though often bred selectivity for multiple purposes. Like Palladium they are a considerable resource that we may not treat in the most humane way at times.
Cobalt (as a oxide) is a metal that is often used in tinting glass jewellery and other products to make a brilliant blue color. Often mistaken as the result of bismuth by early chemists and alchemists. I chose the to depict it as a Macaw as its bright blue is so much like that produced by cobalt oxide.
Nickel is a metal often used as an alloy or a plating for more corrosive metals. Usually, as destructive oxidation is less likely to affect it. It’s also often referred to as “old nick” in German miner slang to its resistance when coupled with copper, and thus a “devil” to refine and spot. Nickel is also one of the most widely used elements for implants, though often in an alloy with Aluminium, Titanium and Osmium and until recently Lead (which stopped due to leads high toxicity). Its use in dental fillings is extraordinarily widespread, as a mixture is enlarged, especially so. An enlargement of something is often called a proboscis in biology although many invertebrates and vertebrates have such feature the renowned “naughty” nature of the Proboscis monkey led me to depict them as Nickel.
Phosphorus is an element that is very reactive. When it was first discovered, with the purification of urine, the green, yellow glow given in a low light gave it the name it now holds. Phosphorescence now also hold this name too, even though the light produced by phosphorus belongs to the broader chemiluminescence. Though truly fireflies produce their light using a luciferin chemical which contains no phosphorus at all. Some luciferin chemicals do though. Fireflies were, however, the ones to give fame to Bioluminescence and Phosphorescence and the study of producing light without flame or electricity.
Sulfer Crested Cockatoos are another Australian animal. It is also the first animal in the series to have an elemental name in its common name. The yellow crest though just looks like crystallized Sulfer, though this was how the common name for the cockatoo came about. It pretty much reacts with most elements, and though the cockatoos are not as harsh, they have been the bane of farmers, eating grain sowed in soil or from crops. They make what is regarded as the worst calls in the bird kingdom. Thus the element is a good name for them. Despite this, they are a fairly intelligent and like budgerigars have made it into homes as a pet.
Aluminium is a fairly common but reactive element. The cockroach is one of the most abundant species of beetle. Though in this case, we are talking about the European cockroach as I accidentally realized that cockroach was also a perfect match for Lead. Why? Well, we will get to Lead at another stage in the future (32 posts away). So Aluminium is an unforgiving element… Kindof. It is very malleable, changeable and if you treat it right, it will do the same for you. Treat it wrong, and it rots to the core. Much like what will happen if you leave European cockroaches alone!
Silicone is a rather interesting metalloid being one of the most abundant metals in our crust, its use in computing, glass, and many clays and ceramics is now well known; its separation as a single element, however, is relatively late in 1823.
Dragonflies often have four transparent wings, which often reflect the light iridescently giving them an almost seemingly magical glow. It is because of this glow that Dragonflies hold a significant place in some mythology and culture. Wetland loss, however, means they are now less common. Silicone and dragonflies both have this iridescence in the natural form, and thus they belong together.
Fluoride as a Cane Toad is pretty much the best comparison I can make as an Australian. Fluoride is highly toxic halogen, and almost everything reacts with it. Cane Toads (also known as Marine Toad or the giant neotropical toad have become a highly invasive species in Australia. Mostly introduced to get rid of another introduced pest (Irony if the highest order) the Cane Toads made a quick beeline to eat as much as they could wherever they went. Being coated in a highly toxic mucus, the predators quickly learned to stick clear, though some have learned to flip the bodies over and attack their belly. Fluorides toxic nature and its ability to become attached to
Neon is the first “noble gas” if you don’t count Helium (which some don’t). Budgerigars are another Australian connection through this time a native. Budgerigars are recently domesticated birds, and usually, live in flocks in outback Australia. Though they are threatened by foxes and cats, who were introduced by the settlers early on in settlement.
Budgerigars usually have a bright array of feathers on the male. A lot of dimorphism in nature sees the male of the species be the “prettier” more colorful one. The dimorphism is often to show the health of the male. The heavier, the more bright and nice looking his coat. Neon is often used in colorful lights by humans, along with other noble gases and colored glass or additives to make them shine a particular color and brightness. This is how for me Budgerigahs fit in with Neon.
We start this series with the two most common elements in the universe. Although they are common, they are both gases. This has led me to decide to portray them as birds.
The Hydrogen is Wedge Tailed Eagle. The Eagles who spent many years of my youth amazing me with their supreme mastery of the thermals rising near my home in south Canberra. Helium is a light lifting element, so that led me to use this wonderful bird. Unlike most of the Animals as Elements series, their is no watercolor; the pencil is dry.
The Helium is Kiwi. Why? Well, Kiwis as very shy, very solitary animals. Their eggs are almost as big as they are. This is kind of like Helium. It likes to be by itself. The first Nobel gas. It sticks around by itself and in the cores of stars fuses to make new Helium and hydrogen or bigger elements and a lot of energy. It’s calm, solitary and very Kiwi like.