Internationally recognized UK artist Bruce Munro’s immersive installation Field of Light, titled Tili Wiru Tjuta Nyakutjaku, or ‘looking at lots of beautiful lights’, in local Pitjantjatjara, comprises thousands upon thousands of frosted-glass spheres connected via illuminated optical fibre which bloom as darkness falls and span an area the size of four football fields at Uluru . Here are five insights on creativity he shared at FORM’s PUBLIC Forum in Perth following the launch of Field of Light in the Northern Territory .
1.Find subject matter that is worthy.
Bruce Munro’s installation of 50,000 slender stems crowned with glowing bulbs in the red dirt of central Australia was inspired by the joy Uluru stirred within him the first time he experienced it 24 years ago. The installation has travelled the world, from Wiltshire to Arizona, before arriving, this March, at the place which inspired its existence.
“I arrived in Uluru and it completely blew me away,” Munro said. “It was an amazing place. I don’t know what happened. I promise you I wasn’t drinking any beer or doing anything else. It just filled me with complete and utter joy. What I wanted to do was to say how joyful this place made me feel.”
2. It moves you equally when someone responds to your art.
During one of Munro’s early light installation projects, in a field near his home in Wiltshire, he was approached by a stranger. “This lady comes up to me and she bursts into tears and grabs my hands and says, ‘Thank you!’” Munro said. “I thought I’d actually done something to offend her so I was thinking ‘Oh dear I’m in trouble here’ but then I saw she was really moved by this and it moves you equally – to have someone respond to what you’ve done.”
3. Notice and make notes when you feel connected to the world.
Munro always has a sketchbook in which he jots ideas like his early impression of Uluru, which he sketched all those years ago never dreaming it would see the light of day. Frequently his subject matter is his own experience of fleeting moments of rapport with the world. “I realized over the years I had been collecting notes of experiences- not to make art with- but just where; when I might be in a landscape or I might be reading a book or listening to some music, where I felt connected with the world. And I suddenly thought ‘This is the subject matter!’.”
4. Art isn’t complete until the viewer comes to actually see it.
Field of Light entailed the transportation, management and organisation of 15 tonnes worth of equipment more than 19,000 kilometres over 32 international and domestic flights from the UK to Australia, the farthest a piece of Munro’s artwork has travelled to an exhibition, and thousands of hours spent planting stems of light into the ground at Uluru over several weeks. “An installation doesn’t start when you put an installation in,” Munro said. “It’s actually the processes. The process of meeting people. It’s so many people’s thoughts and ideas… And I promise you I just can’t claim any of that, I can claim a draft idea sitting in front of that magnificent (monolith).”
5. Some of the best art is art which has been created without knowing what the outcome is going to be.
Bruce Munro had drawings of the Field of Light concept pinned up on his wall for many years before he found a way to make it a reality. Since coming to fruition the installation has travelled to botanical gardens and museums across the UK and the United States and continues to move into different places. “Although I have lived with this idea for 24 years, you know, it’s a long journey from that time in 1992 until now, but it still surprises me, and I think it still will continue to surprise me,” Munro said.
Bruce Munro shared his insights on creativity at FORM’s PUBLIC 2016 Forum in Perth following the launch of Field of Light in the Northern Territory in March 2016.