Secrets of the Elements

What happens when a chemist becomes an artist, and meets an advertising copywriter become a poet? A unique fusion of art and haiku—in which artist Langley Spurlock and poet John Martin Tarrat tell a story as old as Hydrogen and as new as Nihonium and Tennesine. Using a wide range of forms and materials they capture the essence of entities as quirky as children. Sometimes playful, sometimes not,

they bring out the good, the bad and the inconceivably nasty. The result is alchemy—a five-part, 15-year collaboration that, when complete, will cover all 118 elements of the periodic table and reveal the building blocks of the universe in all their eccentric variety.

   Promethium 61
   Digital Photo Collage
   13 x 13 inches

   Unearthly metal
   blue-green nightlight of heaven
   Promethium steals
   restores to Andromeda
   his liver eagle-peckled


2005 Secrets of the Elements

When Elements 1 opened at Washington DC’s Studio Gallery in 2005, Nitrogen laughed and Manganese danced. Potassium chattered. Helium got flighty. Promethium, nightlight of the galaxy, went extraterrestrial. And all 15 Lanthanides behaved very badly. More than 20 artworks included painting, engraving, collage, assemblage, photography, digital print and encaustic sculpture. The American Chemical Society gave a big thumbs-up. Visitors and friends, not sure what to expect, left smiling.

The Lanthanides 57-71
Archival Pigment Print
13 x 19 inches

Unrare earths conceal
their true colors look alike
Lanthanides excite
easily and misbehave


Magnesium 12
Archival Pigment Print, Gouache and Beeswax
24 x 31 inches

Harvester of light
Magnesium flares at the
heart of chlorophyll


Uranium 92

Archival Pigment Print

13 x 19 inches

Uranium rush

from core vecting continents

on tectonic plates


Beryllium 4

Watercolor and Pencil

26 x 20 inches

Sweeter than steel  the

toxic lightness of being

is Beryllium


Manganese 25  (detail)

Archival Pigment Print Triptych

12 x 48 inches

In the night of a

million years  Manganese

shadow dances in

the lightless deep  transforming

great whites into darkest pearls


Nickel  28

Archival Pigment Print Mounted on Wood

8 x 12 inches

Shiny Nickel  slick

and new  five buffalo cents

extinction’s loose change


Helium 2

Archival Pigment Print, Wood and Metal Sculpture
70 x 19 x 14 inches

Flighty Helium
happy as a pair of clams
alone together

Using Format