Edinburgh set for Field of Light art installation

ILLUMINATING the night sky in the depths of winter, it is the enchanting art installation which has captured the imagination of thousands of people across the globe.
Ed Manders makes adjustments to Bruce Munro's Field of Light installation in the grounds of Holbourne Museum, Bath, in 2011. Picture: GettyEd Manders makes adjustments to Bruce Munro's Field of Light installation in the grounds of Holbourne Museum, Bath, in 2011. Picture: Getty
Ed Manders makes adjustments to Bruce Munro's Field of Light installation in the grounds of Holbourne Museum, Bath, in 2011. Picture: Getty

Field of Light will now make its first appearance in Scotland early next year for a three month showcase in the heart of the capital.

St Andrew Square in central Edinburgh will host the collection of 9,500 acrylic stems, which gradually light up as darkness falls.

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The work of internationally acclaimed light specialist Bruce Munro, the exhibit will run from 3 February to 27 April and is expected to draw in visitors from far and wide.

It is also intended to help boost the night time economy at a traditionally quiet time of year.

Munro will create the maze of bulbs in just five days in late January with his team of 13 staff, and has urged volunteers interested in the project to get involved also.

Field of Light featured at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London in 2004, the Holborne Museum in Bath in 2011, Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania last year, and with a similar exhibition at The Guggenheim in New York in 2009.

“Each new iteration delivers new surprises and gives one the distinct feeling that there is a life force pulsating within the installation.

“St Andrews Square is an ancient part of the city and it will be a great privilege to bring it to life this winter”, he told Scotland on Sunday this weekend.

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Munro also said he was mindful of the volatile weather at that time of year, but said that the thin stems have withstood all climates to date.

“We recently had an installation in Tennessee with very high temperatures and thundering rain, and they survived, so we’re quite confident we’ll make it through the exhibition”, he said.

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Munro, 54, first drew inspiration from the way in which the Australian red desert comes to life after a rain storm while living there in his twenties.

“When my girlfriend, now my wife, and I were travelling in the desert many years ago we had this incredible experience after a period of heavy rain.

“Within 24 hours the dormant seeds in the dry ground had risen to create this incredible meadow and it felt like there was electricity coming through the floor of the desert.

“Field of Light is my interpretation of that and inspires the work we do in all of the places we’ve had the privilege to take it.”

Munro created his first installation in a field next Wiltshire home. He said that the field was entirely secret until walkers chanced upon the area.

He said: “We invested a lot in the project but got it off the ground would put the lights on for a few hours in the evening.

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“We didn’t tell anyone at first but it got secretly passed around as walkers came across it and within weeks we couldn’t believe the reaction.”

The free exhibition at St Andrews Square is a maze of acrylic stems topped by frosted spheres which are threaded with fibre optic cables, with visitors able to wander through the collection.

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Munro has been praised by Turner Prize judge Richard Cork, who described the exhibits as “admirably site-specific” and “spectacular” to view, while he was chosen to design a dramatic chandelier for the Alexander McQueen fashion collection last year.

He added that he was keen to open up the process of delivering the exhibition to Edinburgh to as many people as possible.

He said: “Far too often art is alienated from the masses by ivory tower artists. It should be inclusive and we’d delighted to include as many volunteers as possible. Besides, there are only 13 of us in the team and it’s a labour intensive process, so we’d be very pleased to see people get involved.”

The project is expected to cost in the region of £70,000 and will be funded by Edinburgh City Council, the tourism board Marketing Edinburgh, and the business group Essential Edinburgh.

Cllr Steve Cardownie, the city’s head of festivals and events, said: “Field of Light has attracted rave reviews across the globe and I can think of no better backdrop for its latest installation than here in Scotland’s beautiful capital city.

“St Andrew Square will be at the heart of Edinburgh’s Christmas and Hogmanay celebrations this year and I am delighted that, through the addition of this spectacular piece of art, the gardens will continue to be a major draw for residents and visitors well into 2014.”

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John Donnelly, chief executive of Marketing Edinburgh, said: “This is such a striking and unusual exhibition, a real coup for Edinburgh.

“Having Field of Light slap-bang in the city centre will look absolutely spectacular and we’re sure it will attract visitors from far and wide”.

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Andy Neal, chief executive of Essential Edinburgh, which represents 600 city centre traders, added that the installation would serve as a welcome boost to traders.

He said: “The Field of Light is something that will draw and delight local people and visitors alike, and add to the ambience of the city centre well into the New Year.”