The light fantastic
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If you’re looking for something brilliant and thought-provoking to do this weekend, this has to be a real contender. Winter Light, the new light installations by Bruce Munro were unveiled just days ago, the third installment in his artistic residency at Waddesdon Manor.
If you read Muddy regularly (and, if not, ahem, why not?!) you’ll know I’m a massive fan of the way Waddesdon combines its traditional past with an appreciation of the modern, particularly in terms of art. British artist Bruce Munro is best known for immersive large-scale light-based installations, and has exhibited at the Guggenheim and Den Hague amongst others, so he’s no slouch internationally, let alone locally, and this year at Waddesdon he has not only an installation trail outside in the gardens (including several new site specific pieces), but has also ventured inside one of the rooms in the house.
I always play a game with myself when I look at art. Without sounding too pretentious about it all, I do try to ‘experience’ what I’m seeing honestly first of all, then when I and realise that, nope, I’ve got absolutely no idea what it’s about, I read the notes by the side and it all becomes clear. Munro has thoughtfully added his notes for each installation for luddites like me, though actually his work is so striking that even without the notes I’m happy to look at it.
I won’t spoil it for you by going through each installation, though I must mention new piece Moon Harvest, inspired by night-time views of the harvest moon from his home in Wiltshire. which playfully uses 20 bales of straw from the Waddesdon estate. Also, I love his moving memorial to the First World War, a sea of red ‘poppies’ created in the rose garden which you can walk through. I didn’t make it to the Tower of London poppies so I was really grateful for it.
If you can make it up to the Manor for 4pm, when dusk is starting to fall, that’s the ideal time to walk around the installation – it’s eerily beautiful watching the sky colour and darken, and see how the installations contrast with it.
Or go a couple of hours earlier and enjoy the house, as it’s just reopened with all the festive bells and whistle. My favourite room continues to be the Blue Dining Room, with its smashed crockery chandelier, now with a blinging Christmas tree to brighten it further.
Winter Light at Waddesdon: Bruce Munro is free with the normal entry fee to Waddesdon Manor. It takes about half an hour to walk around the 7 installations, but you don’t have to go in a particular order which I like, just wander around as you feel like it. As ever, let me know if you make it and what you think.
Waddesdon Manor is open Weds – Sun 10am-5pm. On Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 28 Nov – 4 Jan, Winter Light at Waddesdon: Bruce Munro will be illuminated from 4pm to 8pm. Final gardens admission will be at 7pm.