Art of Science: Glass with a Dangerous Glow

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Dounreay Power Station, Kate Williams and John Lloyd, Uranium Glass, 2006

Kate Williams, a London-based sculptor, describes her medium as “glass and light”. She explores the scientific, cultural and artistic elements of both in her Glass Nuclear Power Station Project, a series of sculptures of nuclear power stations made from cast uranium glass in collaboration with John Lloyd.

Williams created small cast-glass replicas of four nuclear power plants. Three are real plants in Europe (Sizewell, Dounreay and Doel) while the fourth is Springfield, the fictional workplace of Homer Simpson.  Says Williams, “We wanted to celebrate these post war monuments to cheap unlimited power. They act as eulogies to collective human desire and its consequent disenchantment. In their de-commissioning they are being eradicated from the landscape but their legacy lives on in our imaginations and memories” and of course also in the form of nuclear waste.

The sculptures are cast in uranium glass, which is pretty much what it sounds like – a type of glass to which uranium has been added for color and fluorescence. Williams describes the glowing yellow-green of the sculptures when lit as “both unsettling and attractive, which somehow represents our complicated relationship with radiation.”

The Glass Nuclear Power Station Project is on view at Compton-Verney in Warwickshire, England through December 13 as part of the exhibition Periodic Tales. You can read more about Kate Williams at her website.

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