The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum’s winter exhibition, Bruce Munro: Winter Light at the Arboretum, features the following six large-scale installations plus a series of immersive, sensory audio-visual animations. Five installations are outdoors, one is in the Oswald Visitor Center and the animations are in the MacMillan Auditorium. Also, information on Munro exhibitions and prints will be displayed in the Reedy Gallery.
Of the artworks presented, Oreum, Rhadamanthine Club and Reflections are exhibited for the first time.
Twenty-eight towers made of recycled plastic water-filled bottles with lights, set to music, that slowly undulate. The installation is located in the Arboretum’s Perennial Garden.
“The Towers look like enormous liquid batteries of light arranged in staggered formation; together they form an array of light. As the towers change color, visitors will experience sound magically translated into color.” – Bruce Munro 2016
Mixed media: Optical fiber, PET bottles, Wood, Light
Located in the Arboretum’s Sugar Maple collection, the installation was inspired when Munro saw the weave of blue tubes that carry sap for maple syrup production. It channels Munro’s early life in Australia, where great flocks of birds would congregate near his home. The blue lines at the Arboretum will serve as a perch for raucous birds, an exotic flock seeking a cooler climate. Thousands of fluorescent pegs are attached to the blue tubes, color coded by bird species, creating an eclectic gathering of sound and psychedelic color.
“I see this work as a bit of fun but also a reminder that we all should keep our eyes, ears, hearts and imagination open to the amazing variety of life that surrounds us on a daily basis.” – Bruce Munro 2016
Mixed media: Plastic, Acrylic, UV Light
This custom installation is located on Scarecrow Hill near the Learning Center and it is visible from Hwy. 5. Serendipity often plays a role in Munro’s exhibits. Pondering a light installation in England in 2014 called Moon Harvest (pictured above), an owl’s hoot interrupted his thoughts and giant owl eyes blinked into his imagination. As often with Munro’s work, the piece employs familiar objects, in this case, 20 bales of straw wrapped in plastic, which transform into enormous, blinking pairs of owl eyes.
Mixed media: Hay bales, Vinyl, Light
The Good Seed
Located on the island in front of the Oswald Visitor Center, this installation is inspired by Munro’s love of C.S. Lewis’ “Chronicles of Narnia”. It is a monumental structure formed from 19 lamp posts, which branch out like a giant seed head from a central core. In the Narnia book “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe”, an eternally burning Victorian lamp post stands in a silent, snow-laden forest, marking a point between two worlds, a protective beacon of light. Good Seed will remain at the Arboretum for 2 years.
Mixed media: Steel, LED Candles
Munro was interested in harnessing the power of wind after a visit to Jeju Island in South Korea, where wind from the ocean blows steadily and the island is littered with unusually-shaped black rocks and small mountains called oreum. Upon visiting the Arboretum, he wanted to recreate oreum in the windy, northern landscape. Masses of small windmills planted in the flowerbeds and pathways around the close-in gardens behind the Snyder Building and Oswald Visitor Center will immerse visitors in 8,500 stems of flowers and vegetation. Oreum will be visible from the Café, Oswald Visitor Center and the Snyder Building. Custom designed for the Arboretum.
Mixed media: Optical Fiber, Acrylic, Light
The prismatic wonder of Chindi will be suspended in elegant form from the highest point in the Oswald Visitor Center. Inspired by Munro’s memories of the deserts of central Australia where he watched dust devils, he wanted to give form to those ephemeral vortices. Chindi is created from a series of prismatic acrylic rods suspended in a helix form and lit via optical fiber. Munro experimented with carving grooves into the surface of the acrylic prisms to affect their refractive qualities.
Mixed media: Optical fiber, Acrylic, Stainless Steel, Light
These four digital light animations use Morse code to create a pattern. They will be projected in sequence upon nine platforms. The viewer will be immersed in a series of illuminated platforms morphing pattern and sound. A contemplative and dreamlike environment is created, which explores and reinforces the relationship between space and experience. The animations include:
A symbiotic dance of daffodil blooms in a landscape of cloud shadows and pools of sunlight. The light in Morse code is a translation of the equation for the biological process of photosynthesis.
Recreates the canopy of magical wood described by C.S. Lewis in “The Magician’s Nephew.”
Music by Satya Hinduja, Anahata is an exercise in meditation and is the fourth primary chakra, which means in Sanskrit, unhurt, unstruck and unbeaten.
Nam Myoho Renge Kyo
A visualization of the Buddhist meditation which speaks of the lotus flower’s blossoming in a muddy pond yet remaining pristine. The simplistic pattern reflects the mantra in Morse code (Nam: Devotion To, Myoho: Supreme Laws of Buddha, Renge: Lotus flower, Kyo (Sutra, the voice of Buddha).
The exhibition in the Reedy Gallery presents a series of photographic prints of Munro’s works taken around the world. Of the 39 prints, all are signed and nine are signed limited editions. All prints are available for purchase.
Food, Beverages & More
Beverages and Light Bites to Stroll Winter Light
Whether a family outing or special date night, guests of all ages can enjoy beverages and light bites before or after the exhibit, indoors and out, (open until half hour before exhibit close). Enjoy a glass of wine or beer, hot cocoa, tea and more. Sweet snacks, light bites, in the Great Hall Thurs-Sun. Cafe featuring cheese plates, artisanal sandwiches open Fridays and Saturdays only. Roast marshmallows and s’more fixings outdoors.
Shopping Fun at the Gift & Garden Store
The Arboretum’s Gift & Garden store is a great place for retail therapy. Pick up a special copy of “Light” with stunning images from Bruce Munro’s International exhibits. Explore the array of gift items, tasty treats, pantry items, books, toys and fun stuff (for all ages). Located on the first floor of the Visitor Center, the store is open each exhibit evening until 9:30pm.
All photos by Mark Picknall © Munro Studios