Waddesdon Manor will be celebrating a year of light in a spectacular fashion this year by unveiling ‘Cantus Arcticus’, an extraordinary artwork by international artist Bruce Munro, to be seen for the first time in the Coach House as part of Waddesdon’s contemporary programme. This new work follows two installations, Blue Moon on a Platter and Angel of Light, displayed at the Manor during the Christmas Season 2012.
Bruce Munro is a British artist best known for immersive large-scale mixed-media installations based on his interest in the medium of light. Munro was born in London in 1959 and studied fine art at Bristol Polytechnic. He moved to Australia in the 1980s where he worked within the lighting design industry. On his return to the UK in 1992 he settled in West Wiltshire and has designed contemporary residential light art pieces and very large walk-through outdoor light –based installations. He often works with reclaimed or re-used materials with reflective qualities, such as cds and fluorescent tubes. Aside from his work at Waddesdon, his most recent piece in the UK was the critically-acclaimed Field of Light at the Holburne Museum, Bath, in 2011, which combined 5 thousand slender fibre-optic stems bearing glass bulbs which shifted colour and moved with the wind.
Munro’s inspiration for the artwork is the haunting orchestral composition ‘Cantus Arcticus’ by Finnish composer Einohujani Rautavaara (b.1928), which Munro heard for the first time quite by chance, as he returned from a visit to Waddesdon. The sounds of Arctic birdsong interwoven with Rautavaara’s orchestral score created a visual soundscape, which crytallised as shimmering curtains of light suggesting the Aurora Borealis interspersed with the silhouettes of circling birds. Back in the studio, the vision was realised through fibre-optic cable and mirrors, creating the sense of the infinite landscape of the arctic tundra and its bird life, illuminated by the shifting colours choreographed to Rautavaara’s music. Visitors will be transported into a different world of light and sound via the pinks, greens and blues of the Northern Lights.
Munro is a Wiltshire-based artist who has long been fascinated by the emotional impact of light and the responses it creates, particularly in relation to landscapes. He has exhibited at the Eden Project, the V&A, the Holburne Museum in Bath, Kensington Palace, and most recently at Longwood Garden outside Philadelphia in the USA. Cantus Arcticus is part of Munro’s ongoing residency at Waddesdon and will be followed by a series of 6 installations especially created for the gardens from 13 November to 1 January 2014.
Pippa Shirley, Head of Collections at Waddesdon, says “We are absolutely delighted to be collaborating with Bruce Munro, an artist of international standing, who is at the forefront of this rapidly evolving field. Both Cantus Arcticus and this winter’s installations are site-specific – Bruce has used Waddesdon as his canvas to create a series of extraordinary responses to the place in colour, light and sound which are witty, challenging and moving. He harnesses the emotional power and magic of light in a way which our visitors will love. We intend over the coming years to develop light art as a distinct strand of our contemporary programme, taking advantage of the wonderful buildings and landscape at Waddesdon to create an art experience which is at once immediate, immersive, enchanting and at the cutting-edge, which everyone, from young to old, can enjoy.”
Location: Coach House: 27 March – 27 October 2013 – Waddesdon Manor, Waddesdon, Near Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire HP18 0JH