Bruce Munro

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Bruce Munro (born 2 June 1959) is an English artist primarily concerned with the medium of light. He is best known for producing large immersive site-specific installations, often by massing components in the thousands. Frequently, Munro’s subject matter is his own experience of fleeting moments of rapport with the world and existence in its largest sense, of being part of life’s essential pattern.[1] His reoccurring motif is the use of light on an environmental scale in order to create an emotional response for the viewer.[2]

An artistic diarist, Munro has spent over 30 years collecting and recording ideas and images in his sketchbooks, which he returns to over time for source material. Language, literature, science, and music have also greatly influenced his work.[3]

Life and career[edit]

Bruce Beaton St Clair Munro was born on 2 June 1959 in London, the youngest of the three children of Judith Ames and Brian Munro. His parents divorced in 1965.[4]

In 1977, he completed a Foundation course in Art and Design at Braintree Technical College, and in 1982 graduated from Bristol Polytechnic in Fine Art with a focus on painting. He traveled to Sydney, Australia in 1984, intending it to be a six-month working holiday, but instead staying eight years.[5]

While working in Australia, Munro was chagrined when a colleague referred to him as having ‘a butterfly mind,’ meaning his mind was unsettled and scattered, but the comment struck a chord. In response, he decided to narrow his vision to the medium of light.[6] The artist said, “when I decided to work in light, almost 30 years ago, I chose it very carefully because I knew I needed some kind of focus. I thought that working in a medium that was very pure and true would simplify my ability to express all the different ideas that filled my head.”[7]

In 1985, Munro started an illuminated display business in Sydney. In 1988 he sold the business and worked for its new owners, learning about manufacturing and production techniques.[8] He purposely left his fine art ambitions aside, as he reasoned he needed career experience, but while in Australia he made notes and sketches recording moments of condensed connectedness with nature, feeling that those moments of clarity would be worthy subject matter to reconsider through art.

In 1992 Munro and his fiancée, Serena Ludovici, began a camping tour of Australia prior to their planned return to England.[9] While camping at Uluru (Ayers Rock) he conceived of an artwork that would bloom at night, like dormant desert seeds responding to rain,[10] and recorded the idea in his sketchbook. In 1993 he and his wife Serena moved to the country in Dorset, where he intended to make a living as a painter, which proved to be an unrealistic goal. In 1994, his second child was born. Aware of his family commitments, he started a tile business and in 1995 joined Kevin McCloud design studio. In 1996 Munro once again embarked on his own business realizing mostly residential projects in paint, tile, and lighting and began a series of bespoke designs.

In 1999, his father died on 12 August. As a result, Munro was beset with anxiety, fear, and a loss of confidence for six months to a year, and began to think again about simple experiences of connection as source material for making personal work.[11] In 2003 the Munros, now a family of six, purchased Long Knoll, a sixteenth-century derelict farmhouse and outbuildings, with a ten-acre large field bisected by a public footpath. Also in 2003, Harvey Nichols, the London retailer, commissioned a window display of 10,000 illuminated stems.

In 2004 Munro participated in the Victoria and Albert Museum's “Brilliant!” exhibition,[12] using 5,000 of the Harvey Nichols components. He hired two young lads from the nearby village to stake out his first true Field of Light, based on his originating inspiration at Uluru, in the field behind his home. Munro left the illuminated field up from 2004 to 2005, with a sign reading, “Please turn the lights off when you’re finished.”[13]

Munro was then invited to recreate Field of Light at the Eden Project in Cornwall (Winter 2008/9) and participated in the 2010 exhibition “Contemplating the Void: Interventions in the Guggenheim Museum,”[14] at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY. In 2011 he exhibited another iteration of Field of Light at the Holburne Museum in Bath.[15]

Selected works and projects[edit]

Field of Light, (2004– ) Munro is best known for site-specific iterative versions of Field of Light, including Forest of Light, 2012,[16] at Longwood Gardens, Kennett Square, PA, and River of Light, 2013, at Waddesdon Manor, the Rothschild Collection, Buckinghamshire,UK.[17] Writing about “Forest of Light” in the Washington Post, journalist Adrian Higgins said, "It is the sheer scale of the work that really touches the imagination…“Forest of Light” is strange and touching and authentic. It is a phenomenon of opposites, organic and synthetic, familiar and otherworldly, tangible and dreamlike.”[18]

CDSea (2010)[19] In June 2010, Munro with 140 helpers created an inland sea on Long Knoll field in Wiltshire, using 600,000 recycled compact disks, donated from around the world. The project was inspired by Munro’s memory of the play of light on water one afternoon in the 1980s, as he dreamed beside a beach in Sydney, missing his family a half a world away.[20] The artist has returned to the use of reflected light through CDs in other projects, notably Waterlilies, 2012, at Longwood Gardens, Blue Moon on a Platter and Angel of Light, both 2013, at Waddesdon Manor, the Rothschild Collection[21] and The Ferryman’s Crossing, 2015, Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art.[22]

Water Towers (2011– ) In 2010, Munro exhibited an installation of 69 towers, built from plastic bottles of water and fiber optics, at Salisbury Cathedral, Wiltshire, England.[23] The installation, originally inspired by a book Munro read at age twenty-one, Gifts of Unknown Things, by Lyall Watson, has been recreated in site-specific iterations since.[24]

Light Shower (2008– ) In 2008, Munro developed this artwork for a residential commission in Loch Ossian, Scotland and it has been exhibited in its largest configuration in the Spire Crossing nave on Salisbury Cathedral, Wiltshire, England[25] from 29 November 2010 until January 2011. It has been recreated in site-specific public and private iterations since.

Light and Language (2014– ) In 2014, Munro discovered the work of Korean abstract artist Kim Whanki (1913 - 1974), whose line and mark-making reminded Munro of semaphore; or Morse code transmitted by pulses of light.[26] He was intrigued that by employing Morse code to translate texts, he could produce both pattern and a decipherable message.[27] Each piece in this series reflects a phrase, words or equations that have meaning to the artist and to the subject matter of the artwork. The series includes Snow, 2014, and …---…SOS shown at Waddesdon Manor,[28]The Ferryman’s Crossing, 2015, Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, Ferryman’s Crossing II and Lighthouse, both 2014, at Hermitage Museum and Gardens.[29] and First Impressions, 2015, Sharjah Museum of Contemporary Art, Sharjah, UAE.[30]

Exhibitions[edit]

Munro first solo exhibition was at Longwood Gardens, the DuPont estate in Kennett Square, PA. It spanned 23 acres and was commissioned to run from 9 June to 29 September 2012.[31] The exhibition received the 2013 American Alliance of Museums Excellence in Exhibition Award – Special Distinction, Aesthetics and Materials.[32] Also in 2012, Munro presented two installations at Waddesdon Manor, the Rothschild Collection, as an introduction to his exhibition residency there, Winter Light, which ran annually in 2013-2015.[33] As a result of these exhibitions, Munro became best known for expansive outdoor installations, working at Cheekwood Botanical Gardens and Museum of Art and Franklin Park Conservatory in 2013; St Andrew’s Square, Edinburgh, Scotland, Simbionte Festival, Parque Lincoln, Mexico City, and Hermitage Museum and Gardens in 2014; and the Atlanta Botanical Garden in 2015.

From 3 October 2015 to 8 May 2016, Munro’s work was presented in a cultural collaboration “Desert Radiance,” composed of four solo exhibitions at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, Desert Botanical Garden, Scottsdale Public Art, and Lisa Sette Gallery.[34]

Concurrently the artist has produced interior installations: Cantus Arcticus at Waddesdon Manor in 2013, Star for Salisbury Cathedral and Between Words II at Bath Spa University in 2014. He participated in the Islamic Arts Festival, Sharjah Art Museum, Sharjah, UAE, from 16 December 2015 through 16 January 2016.[35]

In 2015, Munro was invited to return to Uluru to mount the largest version of his Field of Light to date, at the place of its first inspiration. In March 2016, Munro and his team installed the massive Uluru Field of Light covering an area of over 49,000 square meters (open 01 April 2016 – 31 March 2017) at Uluru, Australia.[36]

Munro's work Time and Again was presented at Chatsworth House in Derbyshire as a part of Beyond Limits, an annual exhibition of monumental outdoor sculpture organized by Sotheby's in fall 2016.

Personal life[edit]

Munro lives and works in Wiltshire, UK. He and his wife Serena have four children.

External links[edit]

www.brucemunro.co.uk[1][permanent dead link]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Fox, Robin Lane (28 September 2012) “Lit up by Longwood,” Financial Times
  2. ^ Annas, Teresa (16 October 2014) ‘An Enlightened View at the Hermitage Museum’ The Virginia Pilot
  3. ^ Sharjah Collections of the Art (16 December 2015) exhibition catalogue, Directorate of Art, Department of Culture and Information, United Arab Emirates, Sharjah Government
  4. ^ Cork, Dr. Richard, Bruce Munro: Catching the Light, Sea Hill Press, 2013, p XIV
  5. ^ Bryant, Abigail (August 2013) World of Antiques and Art, Australia
  6. ^ Bryant, Abigail (August 2013) World of Antiques and Art, Australia
  7. ^ http://www.lightathermitage.com/bruce-munro/[permanent dead link]
  8. ^ Higgins, Adrian (19 September 2012) ‘At Longwood Gardens, Bruce Munro sees the light’ Washington Post
  9. ^ Jones, MiChelle (24 May 2013) ‘Cheekwood sets summer nights aglow with Bruce Munro's 'Light' The Tennessean
  10. ^ Haller, Sonja (3 October 2015).’Desert Glows with British Artist’s Works’ Scottsdale Republic
  11. ^ Cork, Dr. Richard, Bruce Munro: Catching the Light, Sea Hill Press, 2013, p XX
  12. ^ Gazsi, Mélina (31 July 2013) ’Manoir, mon beau manoir ‘ Le Monde
  13. ^ Smillie, Eric (29 June 2012) ‘Bright Idea: Artist Turns Simple Materials Into Massive Lighting Installations Wired.com
  14. ^ http://web.guggenheim.org/exhibitions/void/index.html#/home
  15. ^ http://www.holburne.org/field-of-light-2/
  16. ^ Rosenfeld, Karissa (25 June 2012) Bruce Munro’s Stunning LED Installations Light Up Longwood Gardens, Huffington Post
  17. ^ http://www.waddesdon.org.uk/assets/PDFs/press/Bruce%20Munro%20at%20Waddesdon%202013_FINAL11.11.pdf. Retrieved 4 January 2016.
  18. ^ Higgins, Adrian (19 September 2012) ‘At Longwood Gardens, Bruce Munro sees the light’ Washington Post
  19. ^ Lynch, Elizabeth (March 2011) Sculpture
  20. ^ Moon, Sun A. (May 2015), “Landscape of Light,” Public Art (South Korea)
  21. ^ Rothschild, Lord Jacob, Bruce Munro: Catching the Light, Sea Hill Press, 2013, p VIII
  22. ^ http://www.smoca.org/exhibition/bruce-munro-ferrymans-crossing/ Retrieved 4 January 2016)
  23. ^ Mulholland, Eddie (16 February 2011) ‘Bruce Munro’s installation lights up Salisbury Cathedral cloisters’ http://www.telegraph.co.uk/telegraphtv/8328482/Bruce-Munros-installation-lights-up-Salisbury-Cathedral-cloisters.html, The Telegraph
  24. ^ Annas, Teresa(16 October 2014) ‘An Enlightened View at the Hermitage Museum’, The Virginia Pilot
  25. ^ Chin, Andrea(26 November 2010, ‘Bruce munro: light shower at salisbury cathedral’, http://www.designboom.com/art/bruce-munro-light-shower-at-salisbury-cathedral/Designboom
  26. ^ Moon, Sun A. (May 2015), “Landscape of Light,” Public Art (South Korea)
  27. ^ Bates, Megan(November 2015) Lisa Sette Gallery Newsletter 2015-2016, Volume 18.
  28. ^ http://www.waddesdon.org.uk/christmas/winter-light-at-waddesdon-bruce-munro Retrieved 8 January 2016.
  29. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 6 February 2016. Retrieved 2016-02-02.  Retrieved 8 January 2016
  30. ^ Sharjah Collections of the Art (16 December 2015) exhibition catalogue, Directorate of Art, Department of Culture and Information, United Arab Emirates, Sharjah Government
  31. ^ Art Daily, June 2012, ‘Bruce Munro’s first one-man show touches hearts across 23 acres at Longwood Gardens’ http://artdaily.com/index.asp?int_sec=2&int_new=55945&b=guggenheim#.VpAmtIRtmsA. Retrieved 8 January 2016.
  32. ^ Museum, December 2013, ‘The Best and the Brightest from the Alliance and its Professional Networks,’
  33. ^ Hamilton, Adrian (27 December 2013), ‘The Best Visual Arts of the Year,’ The Independent .
  34. ^ Ross, Deborah (7 January 2016) ‘Report: Phoenix’, Art Ltd.
  35. ^ Islamic Arts Magazine, 9 January, 2016http://islamicartsmagazine.com/magazine/view/bruce_munro_first_impressions/.
  36. ^ https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2016/mar/31/artist-bruce-munro-field-of-light-uluru-australia Art and Design: 'Seeing Uluru changed my life': Bruce Munro's lightbulb moment.The Guardian, 31 March 2016, retrieved 04 April 2016.