If you happened upon the right area of Paso Robles in the hills of California in the evening, you might think you’ve fallen into a psychedelic version of the Wizard of Oz poppy field. The flowers in Paso Robles wouldn’t lull you into an opium-induced slumber though. No, what you’d be experiencing is the awe-inspiring work by light artist Bruce Munro whose Field of Light at Sensorio is the most recent edition of his illuminated landscapes.
First lit up in May of this year, the installation has naturally become an Instagram sensation as the hills are bathed in soft and shifting aura of light each night. Field of Light at Sensorio is Munro’s largest such installation to date and features thousands of stems connected by fiber-optic nebulas. The lights will riddle the grounds of Sensorio through the beginning of January and are the first of what Kenneth Hunter III, the owner of the former turkey farm turned outdoor gallery, hopes will be many interactive exhibitions. Hunter also plans to include a 4,000-square-foot wine centre (Paso Robles has become a wine, olive, and lavender mecca in recent years) and resort on the grounds of Sensorio.
‘The installation was inspired by a visit I made to central Australia in 1992,’ said Munro in an interview with The Tribune. While camping near Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock, Munro said the area, which is a sacred site to Aboriginal people, felt like there was energy coming from the ground. He envisioned what the desert surrounding him might look like blanketed in an almost mystical bloom. The memory stuck with Munro and 24 years later, he created The Field of Light Uluru, which is on view until December 2020, and it was a hit. That installation and his most recent edition of a series that ‘is an expression of being connected to landscape,’ says Munro and it certainly does act as a beacon bringing people out into nature in droves.
Maybe some of the attraction is that Field of Light at Sensorio isn’t meant to be complicated. No one who comes to see the installation (tickets will set you back between $19 and $30) don’t need an arts degree to enjoy or understand it, and that’s what Munro wanted. ‘I’m not trying to make art that’s complex to understand,’ Munro told The New York Times. ‘I want to express what it means to be alive in a genuine way.’
Munro has become one of the best-known light artists during his tenure. Based out of Wiltshire, he first began working in the illuminated sign sector to get to know the ropes of lighting and its manufacturing. In 1999, his father passed away and he then dedicated his career to his real passion for creating art. Since then, he has made a number of large-scale installations as well as smaller works but they’re all breathtaking and most work with light.
‘It’s been created over a number of venues,’ continued Munro, ‘from museums to botanical gardens, everywhere it goes, it’s different. But, the one constant is, it does make people smile.’