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Using the power of light to dazzling effect

Custom-made light installations that combine artistry and technology

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Using the power of light to dazzling effect

Image: Mark Pickthall

January 26 2011
Catherine Moye

In the past decade advances in lighting technology have inspired a new breed of designer to produce domestic lighting that is flexible, expressive and impressive. Chief among them is Bruce Munro, whose innovative use of fibre optics has been put to dazzling effect, most notably in dramatic chandeliers that change colour and can be adapted to suit different spaces (from £10,000 to £50,000). His bespoke wall lights, standing lights, pendant and table lights, such as his 15cm copper-bottomed glass cubes, are also highly sought after (from £1,000).

Munro’s work has been showcased at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum and the Guggenheim in New York. A fervent believer that the British need to be bolder about displaying gardens to their best advantage, Munro has even created his own “field of light” (second picture) by planting 18,000 1.2m-tall fibre-optic stalks of light in a field at the back of his Somerset home. He has since replicated the concept in domestic and commercial settings (from £10,000).

The latest of his compelling large-scale installations is Water-Towers (first picture) at Salisbury Cathedral in Wiltshire. The work comprises 69,000m of optic fibre through 69 towers, each built of 216 fluted, water-filled bottles. The 15,000 bottles contain 30 tons of water, and form a massive, watery maze that changes colour in an offset pattern. Viewed from across the cloisters, the cathedral’s stone arches are vivid with colour, like stained-glass windows. As visitors wander through the maze, sound-reactive projectors translate a soundtrack of the Salisbury choir into light. Ecologically thoughtful, the towers use roughly the same power as six 60-watt bulbs. Eventually, the water will be poured into the earth around the cathedral.

Munro still finds time for bespoke commissions for private residential properties. His team of skilled British engineers and craftsmen – glass blowers, metal turners, carpenters – make all the lighting components that are assembled at his Wiltshire workshop.

See also

Bruce Munro, Lighting