Arts review: Bruce Munro, Winter Light At Waddesdon

Waddesdon Manor, Buckinghamshire
  • @ZoePilger

British artist Bruce Munro, 54, describes himself as a “professional daydreamer.” He has created a series of six winter light installations in the stunning gardens of Waddesdon Manor, owned by the Rothschilds and bequeathed to The National Trust in the 1950s.

Munro’s sprays of fluorescent fibre-optic light are turned on at dusk. They are large and conceptual: giant balls which recall Christmas decorations, neon owls’ eyes, tepees that flash like the décor of a rave, breaking the deep stillness of the Buckinghamshire countryside.

The installations are not altogether successful: I personally would rather just enjoy the darkness and the stars, so visible here. Who needs florescent spectacles when you have such natural beauty?

However, Munro is a heart-felt artist and some of these works are designed to harmonize with the environment. River of Light (2004-13) is a swirling path of glass bulbs on stems that meander in fairground pinks, purples, and blues down a hill. It is dazzling but not necessarily in a good way.

Elsewhere, Mynah Words (2013) is an installation of speech bubbles suspended above florescent perches, hanging from the ceiling of the Rothschilds’ aviary. They appear lurid, an unwelcome reminder of the manic chatter of city life.