Light art, Lighting artist Bruce Munro at Holburne Museum
Lighting artist Bruce Munro will unveil a large Field of Light installation at the Holburne Museum, Bath in November this year. He first created a Field of Light at the Brilliant! exhibition at the V&A Museum in London in 2004, and went on to create other versions including a 10-acre display at Long Knoll Field in Wiltshire. Field of Light has not been seen in public since it gained international renown at the Eden Project in Cornwall in 2008/2009.
The Holburne Museum re-opened earlier this year after ambitious renovations, boasting a glorious new extension by Eric Parry. It has fast gained a reputation, along with the Hepworth in Wakefield and the Turner Contemporary in Margate, as one of a number of outstanding regional museums in the UK.
Munro’s new Field of Light will open to the public on Saturday November 26th and remain in place until 8th January 2012. During this period, a frenzy of Christmas shopping, the Bath Christmas Market (24th November-11 December) and the many plays and pantomimes at Theatre Royal make Bath into a whirl of colour and activity. Field of Light at the Holburne will provide a little extra magic, and perhaps a moment of calm reflection.
Munro was first inspired to make this piece during a trip through the Australian red desert 18 years ago. Driving along the Stewart Highway he would stop every night at roadside campsites, which are often in stark contrast to the barren desert that surrounds them: sprinkler-fed oases of green, each one displaying a larger than life sculpture of surreal design and proportions- perhaps a giant banana, pineapple or Merino sheep.
Munro was transfixed by the way the red desert was barren until it rained and then, as if from nowhere, dormant seeds would burst into bloom. He made a series of sketches in the notebook carried in his pocket since art college days, and the idea refused to dislodge from his mind.
Field of Light, like a giant surreal camp-side banana, is an alien installation in the midst of nature. And like dry desert seeds lying in wait for the rain, the sculpture’s fibre optic stems lie dormant until darkness falls, and then under a blazing blanket of stars they flower with gentle rhythms of light. ‘Field of Light’ is about the desert as much as the roadside campsites- and like much of Munro’s work is characterised by an almost mystical passion for nature teamed with a robust sense of humour.
At the Holburne, Munro’s piece will consist of 2,500 acrylic stems topped by frosted spheres, threaded with fibre optic cable and lit by 5x metal halide projectors on colour wheels.
First opened in 1893, the Holburne has a permanent collection of 6,500 pieces, including paintings by Gainsborough, Stubbs, Turner and Sargent. After three years of renovations, it reopened in May this year to record numbers of visitors, who came to admire the critically acclaimed ceramic and glass extension, and an exhibition of works by pop artist Peter Blake. This was followed by a stunning show of Gainsborough Landscapes and photographs by Mark Edwards.
Over the winter months, visitors will get a particularly good view of Field of Light from the café on the ground floor of the new extension, which looks out over the back garden. A smaller version of Field of Light will also be set up on the lawn in front of the museum.
“I hope the Holburne’s visitors and Christmas shoppers in Bath will enjoy Field of Light. It’s not an intellectual piece – I’ll be happy if it makes people smile at Christmas time”.
During late December, Munro will unveil another, newly designed installation called STAR TURN, for a one-day charity event at the Holburne Museum. The event is in aid of the Help For Heroes rehabilitation centers for wounded soldiers. “I hope it will get everyone donating. I can’t overstate how much Help For Heroes deserves our support.” Says Munro.