Air-cleansing artwork raises funds to help tackle lung diseases

  • World’s first catalytic poem by award-winning writer Simon Armitage auctioned off for charity
  • Limited edition artworks raise more than £1,000 for the British Lung Foundation
  • Funds will help support and provide treatment for people suffering from lung diseases

A revolutionary air-cleansing poem, which was transformed into a set of limited edition artworks after removing two tonnes of pollution from the environment, has raised more than £1,000 to support the battle against lung diseases.

Artwork created from the catalytic poemThe poem, In Praise of Air, by award-winning writer Simon Armitage, Professor of Poetry at the University of Sheffield’s School of English, was printed on specially-treated material developed by scientists at the University. The material is capable of purifying the air around it through catalytic oxidation.

Launched in 2014, the catalytic poem was displayed on the side of the University’s Alfred Denny Building until January 2017. During this time the poem removed more than two tonnes of nitrogen oxide from the environment.

Sections of the poem were then transformed into a set of limited edition artworks that were auctioned off to raise funds for the British Lung Foundation – a charity that researches lung diseases.

The auction has raised £1,050 for the charity, which will be used to help people who suffer from lung diseases to get the treatment and support they need.

Professor Jo Gavins from the University of Sheffield’s School of English said: “We were delighted by the public's response to the auction. There was a great celebratory atmosphere at our event at 99 Mary Street and people were incredibly generous with their bids for the poem pieces on the night.

“We couldn't have imagined a better legacy for the Catalytic Poetry project than being able to give such a big donation to The British Lung Foundation. They fund essential research into the lung diseases caused by the pollution that In Praise of Air was designed to remove from the atmosphere. We're so pleased to be able to support them.”

The team behind the project believe the poem’s catalytic technology could help urban areas tackle high levels of pollution in the future.

Additional information

The University of Sheffield

With almost 27,000 of the brightest students from over 140 countries, learning alongside over 1,200 of the best academics from across the globe, the University of Sheffield is one of the world’s leading universities.

A member of the UK’s prestigious Russell Group of leading research-led institutions, Sheffield offers world-class teaching and research excellence across a wide range of disciplines.

Unified by the power of discovery and understanding, staff and students at the university are committed to finding new ways to transform the world we live in.

Sheffield is the only university to feature in The Sunday Times 100 Best Not-For-Profit Organisations to Work For 2017 and was voted number one university in the UK for Student Satisfaction by Times Higher Education in 2014. In the last decade it has won four Queen’s Anniversary Prizes in recognition of the outstanding contribution to the United Kingdom’s intellectual, economic, cultural and social life.

Sheffield has six Nobel Prize winners among former staff and students and its alumni go on to hold positions of great responsibility and influence all over the world, making significant contributions in their chosen fields.

Global research partners and clients include Boeing, Rolls-Royce, Unilever, AstraZeneca, Glaxo SmithKline, Siemens and Airbus, as well as many UK and overseas government agencies and charitable foundations.


For further information please contact:

Sean Barton
Junior Public Relations Officer
University of Sheffield
0114 222 9852