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The poet... and the flag that cleans [see video]

It could be the biggest breakthrough in the fight against pollution since the 1956 Clean Air Act ended London’s pea-souper fogs.

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Poetic idea: the banner uses microscopic pollution-eating particles of titanium dioxide to cleanse the atmosphere and is celebrated with a poem by Simon Armitage

A new material used in flags and soft signage has been created that cleans the air. The remarkable material has been developed in a collaboration between Northern Flags and the University of Sheffield. The project has manufactured a massive banner on a building on the campus.

The banner has been made using catalytic technology developed by the university’s Professor Tony Ryan and the final banner features a poem written by the university’s Simon Armitage who is known for his poems and books, television and radio programmes on poetry.

Its applications are clearly endless from helping to clean up the London Underground in the form directional soft signage or traffic pollution in city centres

After a series of tests, the 20m high banner has been printed utilising dye sublimation techniques on a specially selected fabric to allow the absorption of catalytic chemicals.

Timelapse: watch as the banner goes up in double quick time. It's poetry

It contains microscopic pollution-eating particles of titanium dioxide, which, after coming into contact with nitrogen oxides in the atmosphere, react with these pollutants to purify the air.

The green banner can also be recyclable after use. Its applications are clearly endless from helping to clean up the London Underground in the form directional soft signage or traffic pollution in city centres.

This is the poem on the banner written 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.

Have you written any poetry about an aspect of the sign-industry or life in general? Send in your poems please to online_ed@signlink.co.uk

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