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50,000 Lights Bloom in the Desert

Field of Light in Uluru, by Bruce Munro. (Photo: Mark Pickthall)

Artist Bruce Munro‘s affinity for light has taken him all over the world. Since 2004, his installation Field of Light has traversed the globe, embedding thousands of tiny lights in landscapes from the Arizona desert to the lush greenery of Scotland. Next month, for the first time, his installation will return to the place that inspired it: Uluru, Australia.

It was at this striking sandstone rock formation, in 1992, that Munro first came up with the idea to “create an illuminated field of stems that, like the dormant seed in a dry desert, would burst into bloom at dusk with gentle rhythms of light under a blazing blanket of stars.” Beginning on April 1, over 50,000 solar-powered stems with glass spheres will light up an area the size of four football fields every night for the next year.

Munro needed to transport the stems from his studio in England, but the location of Uluru brought some logistical challenges. The nearest city, Alice Springs (also known as the stabbing capital of the world), is over 200 miles away, and the area is so remote that local schoolchildren are educated via two-way radio. The stems, each weighing 15 metric tons, were transported by over 32 international and domestic flights, before being installed and connected by fiber optic cables.

The installation has been named Tili Wiru Tjuta Nyakutjaku in the local Pitjantjatjara language: “Looking at lots of beautiful lights.”

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