Bruce Munro must find his cowboy hat.
The British performer wants to look good when he arrives in Texas later this year. An art installation by Munro, called “Field of Light,” opens September 9 at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.
The installation will be spread over 16 acres in the center’s Arboretum and will feature 28,000 solar-powered glass spheres that glow in color as the sun sets.
The installation will last until December. Tickets go on sale in July. Prices have not been announced.
“I just realized that one of my team members stole my (cowboy) hat and they never returned it,” Munro told us Monday, explaining that he collects hats from his travels. “I’m definitely going to need that. I’m just going to write that down as a note to myself: where’s my hat?”
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The installation came about after Sam Elkin, C3 Presents’ director of operations for partnerships, visited Munro’s “Field of Light” and “Light Towers” installations in Paso Robles, California, at the start of the pandemic.
“I loved it right away,” Elkin said.
On a whim, he contacted Munro’s team to see if they could bring “Field of Light” to Austin. The Wildflower Center was the first place Elkin looked to host the installation, and he immediately knew it was the best place to work.
Due to the pandemic, Munro has not yet been to Austin. All the planning and preparation has largely been through Zoom, which has been difficult for Munro.
But Texas is no stranger to the artist – Munro has shown his work in Lubbock and Houston. He has also visited Dallas.
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“Field of Light” was born more than a decade. The idea took off when Munro visited Australia some 30 years ago. He was struck by the flat and very red desert landscape.
“When we traveled there, there was this feeling, without sounding like an old hippie, but it felt like there was some kind of energy in the air. You sometimes get that in deserts. You get the feeling that just below the ground, there is a vibrancy, this life force going on. It stayed with me for so long,” Munro said.
He kept thinking of ways to describe how he felt. In 2002, he decided to try and create the thought that had been in the back of his mind for 10 years.
Munro placed 15,000 light stalks in a field outside his studio. People passing by during the day were told to come back in the evening to see the lights. They did.
“And the rest is history. People came to us wanting to see it. Eventually a few museums contacted me. It was very organic,” Munro said.
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While Austin’s “Field of Light” will be similar to Munro’s other works of the same name, it will be different as the work changes depending on the landscape and season. Munro is also aware of the environments in which he works.
“I never want to go out into landscapes and about light. The installation is very gentle, with the amount of light you see. Because when you have a really nice evening and the stars are visible, you want it to still be possible to see the stars,” he said.
Munro hopes “Field of Light” will bring some joy.
“The relevance of this installation, and I mean this very deep down, is that we are in a time where the world is currently (expletively) heavy with COVID and the war in Ukraine. I am a very strong believer that art is a way is to decompress people and allow people to connect with the beauty not only of the natural world, but also of works of art,” he said.
“If we can give people a very happy, genuine experience at the Wildflower Center, I will be very happy.