All Light on the Night…

Well I am glad I got some pics last night because it looks like Light Nelson may be cancelled this evening. These are some of my favourite installations. There were a lot of quite technical things this year, but I like the simple effects of light and shadow much more. I also like the recycled aspect. I thought this was a recycled event actually.

I think it is important to reeducate people though art, and recycling what would otherwise end up as landfill, into something beautiful, is a great way to do that.

So, without further ado, here are some of the best according to yours truly:

The Wormhole


Purple Haze


A bit of battiness


The Beatles meet Bach, or – While sheep may safely graze in lilac fields and last forever…


Goldfish and Pinkfish


A rose by any other name


Nature is hard to beat …


The Suter Cafe as Fairy Grotto


Underwater wedding dress


The unbreakable lightness of leaves – A light bulb garden…




Stopping by woods…

We set up for Light Nelson today… the real thing. I added new branches, and adjusted some old ones. Rebuilt the polystyrene bases and fixed them together with very clever ‘staples’ made from naturally forked twigs.

It looks great… all of the installations at NMIT look fabulous, an awful lot of work went into them. I waited until well after 8.00 pm , but no one came from the opening committee or the press, which was a shame. Anyway Phoebe and I sneaked a look around Queens gardens as the weekend is supposed to be wet, and to be honest, it is much more fun when you can see stuff, and breathe without being squished in the crowds. Sneaky, but necessary imho.

There is some very cool stuff out there… lots of bells and whistles. I will post pics tomorrow, but to be honest I would still rate my forest as one of my favourites, and am not usually one for self applause. I like its simplicity, that few resources and materials were used and the fact that it was all recycled except the bulb. I especially like that it looks beautiful in the daytime too.

So here it is, sadly as facilities did not get the sound fixed in the gallery, so my creepy sounds were only there when I was hiding in the cupboard with my iPad!! It is such a busy time for the staff that I am not sure if it is a great idea to have it as an actual part of the course, but I loved doing it, so maybe it is! It was a slog getting this effect just right, I wish the sound had been working, I could have maybe bought a cheap CD player or something had I thought it wouldn’t get fixed. Still, I will know next time.

Phoebe and her shadow walking in the wintery woods…

Phoebe Forest

It is difficult to photograph the halogen light with my iPhone, the pics look better desaturated!

Forest Room

I was so happy how the shadows filled the whole room, including the ceilings!

Forest Ceiling

I love images of things that are not really there… holes in the light…

Forest Wall

The Light Shows

Today in the studio we all presented our Light Nelson Powerpoints for peer review. Personally, given the short time-frame I think all of the submissions were fabulous! Most of them fitted really well in the concept of Light Nelson.

I see Light Nelson as not just a light show, but as a lightening of the spirit and atmosphere, in the middle of the Southern winter. Not that I need lightening as I love winter most of all! I was very conscious of this, and also the fact that Light Nelson is a family event, and these concepts served to inform my views on what works and what doesn’t for this event.

My favourite installation I think is the one by Van Van and I… I really love it! A close second is Jess Shirley’s slideshow. It features photos of people around Nelson all saying why they love Nelson. Jess has written the statements on the photos and is showing them through an outside window at NMIT. It looked great on Friday! I love the celebratory atmosphere of this work, I love it’s positivity, and it is great to see all these happy smiling beautiful people! This for me embodies the very spirit of Light Nelson.

I also found out that my neighbour and good friend Linda is part of the slideshow!! You go gals!


My friend and neighbour Linda, or Mindy as I call her!

Photo by Jess Shirley


Beyond Expectations…

No matter that I woke feeling very low, tired, my kitten was missing and it was Friday 13th!

All came right in the end… as I knew it would! Pookie came back and had a visit to the vets, he is now home and feeling a bit better. I spent the morning playing with my gorgeous wee boy Blue, and then headed to college to install the Light Nelson project.

Van Van and I were blessed by a huge bundle of black polystyrene strips which were perfect for building my twig shadow making structure. The stuff I had acquired before was too small. Amazing that these just appeared today of all days!!

We worked hard from 3.30 and 5.00pm. One of the precious bulbs broke during lighting tests, but luckily I bought two! We played around and decided the bulb was better hanging from the wire grid above the gallery, so we covered the orange cable with masking tape to disguise it against the white background. The hanging bulb also gives some movement, which eliminates the need for a turntable. I like the slight movement although some complained of motion sickness when it was moving too much!

So we built our structure, installed the light and held our collective breath as we switched on…



The night rolled from there and the gallery was never empty… so many people wanted to play!

A man came out of the woods


Little people visited…


Wood faeries danced…


and best of all, Blue and Polly came to play too!


The speakers were not working but even on my iPad we got an idea of how the soundtrack would make it even more ethereal!

There are things I want to play with before the event, but I am basking in the warm and kindly shadow of satisfaction right now!


The Soundtrack

We have found the perfect soundtrack for our Light Nelson project, and the person who made it says it is ok to use!

Cat among the shadows…

I went out early this morning to collect branches before first light. I wanted to catch the kitchen before full daylight for my tests. Well it took forever to wire up my branches to make the *shade* thingy, and by then it was full albeit murky, daylight. I tried covering the windows for a few experiments, and worked out that I needed smaller branches further from the light source.

This was the first set up of the day:


Looks like nothing eh? But it is about 6 foot tall and those branches would not stay up… lots of cursing, it’s really a two man job. Still one woman sufficed. I couldn’t get an image of the shadows in the workshop but you are not missing much. The workshop it too big and the roof too high.


Of course Pookie thought it was all for him..


My next experiment involved smaller twigs, polystyrene and a larger space between the bulb and the twigs. I did it in the kitchen as I was able to make it darker. I only used a few twigs just to see if it would work, after all the hours spent wiring the large branches together!




I was so happy to see them, this bulb rocks those twigs!


Look at this gnarly bugger…


I am happy now…. I didn’t sleep hardly last night for worrying about it, even though I was dog tired. Then I got up long before dawn to get the branches sorted. It is all about experiment after experiment to find out what works. Once I have it set up I can refine things and decide if I want to add a turntable or not. At the moment I am thinking we don’t need it but I will see.

I now have a boot full of the gnarliest twigs I could find ready to take in and play on Thursday. Now back to my seminar research…


This guy has something going…

It is wet and my pond (where all the willow branches live) is flooded, but I need to collect branches for further Light Nelson doings….

While procrastinating,  I found this article. Shame I didn’t find it when we were doing the mural project, but there is something about this guy’s work… that I feel in some part if me that I can’t quite identify.

Check this article about Syrian artists Tammam Azzam.

Apparently these images are created by the artist in Photoshop, but I thought these two were projected… wow, would have loved to do something like this for Light Nelson. Next year…



Images sourced from: Huffington Post



In Gombrich’s Art & Illusion, he talks about a process he calls schemata. This process is where the artist compares what he has drawn or painted with what he is trying to draw/paint, and by trial and error, comparing his drawing to his source, the artist gradually corrects the drawing/painting to look more like what he is seeing.  I am using this process to create the effect I want.

I looked at the previous posts and research, and worked out a way to combine the crowd caster lamp, that I mentioned here, with our twig and bark ball in the previous post. I had a walk around my property and collected willow, twigs, some old resistors, and a lump of polystyrene.



Using these things I made this:


Then I dismantled my Himalayan salt lamp (excellent for fighting those positive ions given out by computers etc…), and removed the bulb and fitting. I cut the hole in the polystyrene base of my twig sculpture and inserted the light fitting:


Woohoo… shadows, that look like trees! I created the white walls with two sketchbooks.


Here is a photo with my mug of tea for size comparison:


Actually that’s a little misleading, the mug looks smaller here than IRL, but you get the picture. The lamp is off here by the way.  So… the bulb I used here is a teeny 7 watt bulb. The bulbs I purchased yesterday are 9 times that brightness and they are halogen which gives much sharper shadows.

I think I now have a positive enough result from this model to warrant making a larger version, which will take a lot longer. I may just try a quick demo in the gallery on Thursday using my bulb and just a very basic setup before constructing the actual large shade with twigs. if that works then I am away!!! Everything is one hundred percent recycled except the light bulb. Polystyrene is icky, but at least it is better in use than in the landfill.

Excitement abounds…!!!

A light trip…

None of my group turned up today so I decided to get with it on my own, and try and get this thing nailed. We have a week left, and I have a lot of other college commitments during that week too.

I went to a lighting place in town but they were of no help, and so I drove to meet a guy at Lighting Direct in Tahuna (thanks for the link up Morgan!). Scooterm the manager of Lighting Direct, was extremely helpful. I took my small *ball* of twigs as a demo to see what bulb would work best. After looking at a few bulbs, I purchased two of these beauties… Scooter calls them Dollies.



Aren’t they gorgeous? They are 42 watt halogen points, which gives the equivalent of 60 watts. They are fairly economical, and they are exactly what I need, with a very small pinpoint of light and a clear glass bulb. The large bulb means that the lap doesn;t give out too much heat which is perfect.

Now I need to make my shade. I did some tests in the gallery but couldn’t do it properly or photograph them as an exhibition was in progress. I did work out hat the shade needs to be much bigger that this baby.


I am planning a new shape too, a new approach, influenced by this earlier post, just to compare the effects. I may do some card cutting today… I did some iPad sketches, (see Sundays post), which I thought about printing onto acetate and making a lamp like the crowd lamp, but then the materials wouldn’t be recycled. Mind you, Symen has lots of acetate printouts from making screens… maybe I could grab, and recycle some of those!


Give me a pumpkin anyday…

…over a glass slipper that is…

I collected a whole heap of gum bark from the garden and took it into college on Monday, for further experimentation with our spooky, forest shadow-throwing, lampshade.


The gum is very strong and springy, so I came up with the brilliant idea of wrapping it around the giant pumpkins (ya know, the ones prepared earlier…), and taping it so the weight of the pumpkin would press the bark into a rough globe-like shape.


After a couple of days I will turn them over so that the weight is on the other half of the gum bark.


Anyway, that’s the plan so far.

I think I have almost nailed the type of light source we need too, after many hours of research… and playing with tea lights etc. The source of light must be small, and the bulb or glass must be clear for sharp shadows. Frosted or pearl type bulbs are no good, as they diffuse the light far too much to give shadows, which is of course exactly why they are made that way for domestic use!