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Fields that light up and towers of iridescent bottles. The magic of the art of Bruce Munro

The latest installation inaugurated in California, as told by the author himself, a Pantografo Magazine exclusive. «My dream? To create in Tuscany»

Fields of light constellated by an expanse of luminous bulbs, with shimmering colours and nuances. Towers of iridescent bottles, with infinite shades of optical fibres. A lake of scintillating water lilies, made entirely of CDs on the surface of the water. Bruce Munro, the Anglo-Australian artist, is specialized in large-scale installations based on plays of light. With his site-specific works, in recent years, he has brought springtime at night to the middle of desert country in Australia and into California wine country. Always leaving behind added value in the places where he worked, in terms of tourist and cultural attractions. One of his dreams? To find a location for a new work among the hills of Tuscany.

Munro’s latest work, inaugurated on April 15th, is “Light Towers” in California, near Paso Robles, a small town in San Luis Obispo county.

An immersive installation consisting of 69 towers 1,80 metres high, each composed of 252 glass bottles (for a total of 17,388 units) that light up at night thanks to optic fibres with incandescent wires.

The creation – a tribute to the wine producers in the region – stands beside the “Field of Lights”, an expanse of glass spheres on a stem (58,800) lit by optic fibres powered by solar energy, which softly illuminate the landscape like blossoms with fluctuating colours: opened to the public in May 2019, it has attracted thousands of people from all over the world. Together the two works compose “Light at Sensorio”, a park several acres across that has rapidly become a must-see tourist destination, at sunset, for anyone in California wine country. It ranked sixth in the New York Times 2020 list of “Places to Visit” on the global scale.

Telling us the story of how the installation at Paso Robles – visits are reservations only through September 30th – was conceived is Bruce Munro himself, in an exclusive interview with Pantografo.

Light Towers and Field of Light are two works that were inspired respectively in my twenties and thirties. They were both responses to life experiences

Bruce Munro

«I am simply attempting to convey the feeling of joy that I felt at that time to others. The location of a work is extremely important as it dictates the physical form of an installation».

Munro began to create his “fields of light” in the early 2000s, presenting his work in 2004 in the exhibit “Brilliant!” at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London: among his many installations around the world over the course of the years, a place of honour must be reserved for the installation he created in the semi-desert hinterland of Australia – a place which inspired the artist in his youth – against the background of Ayers Rock, the famous red rock formation. The Field of Light in Uluru opened to the public in 2016 and then became a permanent exhibition.

«I was fortunate – says Munro – that the Hunter Family (the owners of Sensorio) discovered my work at Uluru, Northern Territories Australia. My aim is always to encourage visitors to be “present” with the artwork, other people and the space the installation resides. If the experience can also raise a smile that’s an added bonus!»

From “Blue Moon on a Platter” at Waddesdon Manor (2012) to Cd Sea ( 2010) at Long Knoll Field in Wiltshire (2010), both in England; from the luminous Fagin’s Urchins (named after the character in Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist) at Martin Boxwood Gardens in Cheekwood, Tennessee (United States – 2013), to the “Waterlilies” (2012) in Longwood Gardens at Kennett Square, Pennsylvania in the United States; to the installations at Salisbury Cathedral for the exhibition “800th Anniversary Spirit and Endeavour” (United Kingdom; 2020 – ongoing) and the Water Towers, fields and plays of light at the Light Art Festa (2018 – ongoing) on the island of Jeju, in South Korea.

Munro’s work is growing in popularity around the world. But the artist does not intend to stop there, and reveals he has a dream that involves our country. «I love to work in new places so it would be both a joy and honour to create an installation in Italy. If I had a choice, the hills of Tuscany would be a wonderful location for an installation!»

Cover: Light Towers, Sensorio 2021 – Copyright © 2021 Bruce Munro. Ph. © Chris Hardy

Translated by: Olga Barmine 


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