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Art installation stars at cathedral

Internationally-recognized artist Bruce Munro, best known for immersive large-scale light installations, returns to Salisbury Cathedral ...

Internationally-recognized artist Bruce Munro, best known for immersive large-scale light installations, returns to Salisbury Cathedral in time for Christmas with a special new installation running through until 4 February 2015.

Star of Bethlehem will be projected onto the Cathedral’s famous ‘living water’ font, its light reflecting on the water surface and spilling over onto the ancient stone floor.
Star of Bethlehem is a literal and visual abstraction of the text from the New Testament, Matthew 2:1-12, telling the story of the wise men following a star to find baby Jesus, the Messiah, translated into Morse code and communicated through a series of dots and dashes, or short and longer pulses of light.

This animation of radiating lines of light is projected onto the still water of the font – it grows to its fullest extent in 2 minutes 20 seconds and remains at its full extent for 70 minutes, while the biblical text scrolls along each point of the star. It is best viewed after 4pm when the light outside is fading.
The installation is curated by Salisbury Cathedral’s Visual Arts Advisor, Jacquiline Creswell, and is part of a wider programme of ambitious outreach initiatives. 

In 2011, Bruce’s first light installations at the Cathedral, Light Shower, in the spire crossing and Water Towers placed in the cloisters, proved extremely popular with the public and have been among the most fondly remembered of recent art installations.

Bruce Munro creates installations made of components and light; inspired largely by his interest in moments of shared human connection via time and memory. He combines his responses to stimuli such as music, literature, science and the world around him to produce both monumental temporary experiential artworks as well as intimate story-pieces.

Munro says: “The concept for this installation was not as easy a subject as I first thought – illuminated lights and star shapes populate our cities, towns and villages at this time of year so my instinct was to approach this opportunity from another direction.

"This ‘star’ is one of a new series of artworks that I have been experimenting with, thinking about, and making, which incorporate light and Morse code. They combine my love for the written word with the animated visualisation of natural light effects, producing both patterns and decipherable messages.

"It is my hope that the placement of the projection above Salisbury Cathedral’s font and the resulting animated coded reflections of Matthew’s Gospel will capture something of the wonder that these few words inspired in me.”
Canon Treasurer of Salisbury Cathedral, Sarah Mullally says: “The simplicity of the code translated into dots and lines of light is transformed by its configuration as a star – it becomes ‘more than the sum of its parts’ as it radiates and shimmers on the mirror-like surface of the font. In the same way, the celestial body that Matthew describes has become a powerful and emotive symbol which points us to Jesus’ birth as ‘the light of the world’ here on earth and its implications for humankind.

"We hope that Bruce’s Star of Bethlehem will help those that see it contemplate the symbolism of Christmas from a different point of view.”

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