Sheffield & South Yorkshire

In Praise of Air: Simon Armitage's Sheffield artwork to be auctioned

In Praise of Air artwork Image copyright University of Sheffield
Image caption The poem was put on the side of a university building in 2014

A poster that has absorbed more than two tonnes of air pollution has been turned into artworks in aid of charity.

Air-cleansing nanotechnology was used to make the 10m by 20m (33ft x 66ft) poster on a University of Sheffield building.

It bore a poem, In Praise of Air, written by University of Sheffield professor Simon Armitage.

Twelve sections of the poster have now been stretched onto frames to raise money for the British Lung Foundation.

Image copyright DED Associates
Image caption The poster absorbed more than two tonnes of pollution

The poster, featured on the side of the Alfred Denney building since 2014, removed more than two tonnes of nitrogen oxide from the environment.

It was a collaboration between the School of English and the Faculty of Science, which helped raise awareness worldwide of the damaging effects of traffic pollution on public health.

The 12 sections to be auctioned for the British Lung Foundation are signed by Mr Armitage, 53, who was born in Huddersfield and is an acclaimed poet, playwright and novelist.

Image copyright DED Associates
Image caption Sections of the poster have now been stretched onto frames and signed by Simon Armitage

To celebrate the end of the university's catalytic poetry project, Mr Armitage will be giving a poetry reading before the artworks are auctioned at 99 Mary Street, Sheffield, at 19:00 BST.


In Praise of Air by Simon Armitage

I write in praise of air. I was six or five

when a conjurer opened my knotted fist

and I held in my palm the whole of the sky.

I've carried it with me ever since.

Let air be a major god, its being

and touch, its breast-milk always tilted

to the lips. Both dragonfly and Boeing

dangle in its see-through nothingness…

Among the jumbled bric-a-brac I keep

a padlocked treasure-chest of empty space

and on days when thoughts are fuddled with smog

or civilization crosses the street

with a white handkerchief over its mouth

and cars blow kisses to our lips from theirs

I turn the key, throw back the lid, breathe deep.

My first word, everyone's first word, was air.

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