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Franklin Park Conservatory bringing another magical exhibition to Columbus

Anne Evans Anne Evans Franklin Park Conservatory bringing another magical exhibition to ColumbusCDSea on display in Long Knoll Field. Photo by Mark Pickthall.
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The Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens has announced their next major exhibition. Light installations by British artist Bruce Munro will be on display beginning this September.

Artist Bruce Munro. Photo by Mike Massaro.

Munro’s works will be the second year of the Conservatory’s sustainability theme that began with Aurora Robson’s exhibit Sacrifice + Bliss.

They searched for an artist who would “be a catalyst for our bright future,” says Executive Director Bruce Harkey. Harkey visited Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania, the first exhibition Munro had in the US, and “was completely dazzled” by the artist’s installations.

“Munro’s works will create a beautiful, engaging, and memorable experience here,” says Harkey.

Munro is excited to be opening his third show in the US at the Franklin Park Conservatory (he will have a show at Cheekwood Botanical Garden and Museum of Art in Nashville beginning in May).

“Having a beautiful place to display gives the work an extra dimension,” he says.

He has visited the Conservatory several times and continues to be amazed by the beauty and expanse of it.

The inspiration for Light Shower. Photo courtesy artist's website.

For his craft, Munro draws on his engineering roots to add fiber optics to mundane objects like water bottles and CDs, transforming them into stunning light displays.

“When you put a manufactured object into a different context it becomes organic,” says Munro.

Many of the ideas for his installations are inspired by nature. The idea for Light Shower came to him while observing the space and seeing rain fall on windows.

In 2008 I was invited to propose some alternative lighting designs for a contemporary highland lodge at the head of loch Osian in Scotland.

I found myself sitting on a step, halfway up the main stairs absorbing a magnificent, uninterrupted view of the loch and group of snow capped Munros behind.

It was raining in squalls against the plate glass window. The view was distorted by rivulets of water streaming down the (9 x 4 metre) panoramic pane. The words “light and shower” registered in my mind and I had my idea.

Ideas also come to him when he finds himself in a space he wants to escape, or during a sad period of time where he finds his mind wondering about life.

One of his largest installations, the CDSea, incorporated over 60,000 borrowed and recycled CDs and required much support from his team and volunteers. The end result is a sparkling ocean that evokes the celebration of life itself.

CDSea on display in Long Knoll Field. Photo by Mark Pickthall.

Visitors to the Conservatory may look forward to seeing some of Munro’s best works as well as quite a few new ones. A fabricated lightening storm with a thunder soundtrack will occupy the South Conservatory. Giant Whizz Pops inspired by author Roald Dahl will be found on the Zen Terrace. Light Shower will greet you in the Himalayan Biome.

“People find their childhood again when they see my work,” he says.

Your imagination will run wild.

Light at Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens will be on display starting September 2013 and go into February 2014. The Conservatory will be open in the evening hours on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays during the exhibit. There are plans to have a call for volunteers to assist with the larger displays. To find out more information, visit www.fpconservatory.org.

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