Lighting a Sculpture Garden
Some dear friends of mine, who also happen to be patrons of the arts, recently asked me if I’d be interested in designing and installing the lighting for their sculpture garden. I was immediately intrigued by their choice. Certainly I create ‘lightscapes’ and photograph them, but there’s not usually anything solid in my pictures to illuminate, so where was the connection? I was fascinated. I do know of film makers who take someone from one profession and ask them to take on a totally different task. Fish out of water tend to react quickly to save their scales. Perhaps it was simply an inspirational idea – I know it’s good to be stretched beyond one’s normal comfort zone. So it has been for me.
What a wonderful experience. It’s forced me to see things – specifically other artists’ work – in a totally new light. A sculpture is exactly what it is during daylight. But at night, it can take on a whole new life depending on how it’s lit. How fabulous to be given the opportunity to make that transformation – especially when the subjects are so much fun. Imagine if you will, a family of elephants created from repurposed junk metal. Yup! So cool.
We agreed early on to exclude a couple of the more difficult sculptures. Two large diameter spheres made from rebar and a wonderful Baobab tree made from wire hangers. The structures were so fine you tend to only see what’s through them and on either side of them, not the actual sculptures themselves.
Shortly after completing the installation, I heard mention of an opening party and suddenly thought, “There’s no way we can leave two sculptures unlit!” Two very intriguing ideas began to ferment immediately; very out of the box ideas that involved not just lighting the sculptures but adding elements to them that would compliment them. My concern was, should I get permission before I started work? I decided on a compromise: I asked whether they would prefer to be enlightened as to what I intended to do or would they prefer to be surprised. Amazingly, they went for the latter. That means they won’t see what I’m creating until the night of their party. And I’m afraid that also means you’ll have to wait until then too. But here are a couple of teaser shots of those two sculptures without my lighting. See if you can guess what I did to overcome their inherent problems.