Carbon (on and on)

Soya Wax, silver halide crystals (30x10cm radius) 2023

Extracted silver from photopaper exposed to 5000-year-old starlight is mixed with wax to create a candle. 

Carbon is a unique atom and the building block of life, its compounds forming solids, liquids, and gasses (and so too life). 

Silver is an element created inside dying stars during the period known as supernova.

When the candle is lit, the silver becomes part of the living flame – creating carbon. This carbon is released into the atmosphere, which will coalesce over time to create a new star. This star will burn, producing light and also elements such as silver, when its life comes to an end (in the form of a supernova). 

The light from a star is trapped by silver (originally made inside a star) and burnt to produce more carbon, which may go onto to make another star that in turn will produce light and eventually more silver.