British visual artist Bruce Munro, best-known for using light as an artistic medium, has produced the second-ever North American exhibition of Light on the 55-acre grounds of Cheekwood Estate in Nashville, Tennessee. The U.S. debut at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, featured an enchanting, dream-like effect, composed of 20,000 lighted glass spheres, each rising from the ground on a slender stalk. It ran from June until October, 2003, commissioned by the DuPont and Pierce families.
Munro, who was born at Salcombe in Devon (UK) in 1959 attended Bristol Polytechnic and emigrated from Australia in 1984, where he had done light work for Qantas and Honda, to Great Britain in 2002. Since then, he has created installations at Wiltshire near his studio, the Eden Project in Cornwall, the CDSeaRegatta (made of discarded CD disks), Light Shower at Salisbury Cathedral and 2004’s Field of Light at the Victoria & Albert Museum. From February through April of 2010, his work was part of the exhibit in New York City entitled Contemplating the Void.
Cheekwood’s 55 acres of gently rolling lands and the Cheekwood Mansion grounds are the largest Field of Light expanse Munro has ever created. The existing pathways and installations on the grounds are utilized to allow visitors to wander amidst the 20,000 lighted glass spheres on the mansion’s lawns, the Japanese Bamboo Garden Fireflies exhibit (reminiscent of scenes from the film “Life of Pi”), the 5-foot “Blue Moon” orb in the Japanese Garden Dry Lake, and the 40 structures known as Water Towers, which are built from one-liter recyclable plastic bottles filled with water and which feature music created by fiber optics linked to an LED projector and sound system.
Near Cheekwood’s lawn, by the ponds, is the Mustard Meadows Light Reservation, an assemblage of 60 watt spent fluorescent tubes. Also featured at the installation at 1200 Forrest Park Drive in Nashville are a reflection pool entitled “Fagin’s Urchins,”made of polycarbonate, acrylic polymer fiber optics and stainless steel, and several stunning creations within the Cheekwood Mansion itself, including “Light Shower,” an installation of 1,650 teardrop-shaped diffusers suspended from the ceiling by fiber-optic strands, and a stunning transformation of the Cheekwood Mansion Rotunda Staircase by the Bell Drop Chandelier.
The exhibit began May 24 and runs until November 10, 2013. It is open each night. Cost for adults is $15, with seniors (over 65) admitted for $12 and college students with ID $8. Admission for children 3 through 17 is also $8; children two and under attend free. (See www.Cheekwood.org/Art/Light for music and dining options, which vary.)