Heavy Metals Lab

What happens when you throw some science gurus, a pile of contaminated sediment, some sea life, a bunch of artists and who knows what else, into a big floating box on Hobart's Derwent River? 

This was the question we tried to answer in the finalist proposal for the MONA Heavy Metals Lab - a project which provides a single functional space for both scientific research and the creative arts.

We envisaged the Lab itself is an artwork, constantly evolving as it adapts to various locations along the Derwent Estuary; A monument by day and a spectacle by night - a striking, singular object in the context of a broader landscape setting and complex network of science and art.

The aim of the HML is to reveal the contamination of the Derwent Estuary by Heavy Metals. These heavy metals reside in the sediment layers of bedrock and soil on the floor of the river.  In researching the link between Heavy Metals in the Derwent and Tasmanian geology, we discovered Crocoite. It’s an unusual mineral that is largely found in Tasmania, and consists of lead chromate PbCrO4, one of the heavy metals that contaminate the Derwent Estuary.

Toxic and yet strangely beautiful, Crocoite appeals to us as a natural heavy metal substance that can stand as an exemplar or symbol of the wider condition of the river. Crocoite is conceptually encased within the bedrock cube, creating an immersive, wondrous, carved-interior space that boldly communicates the heavy metal problem.