Bruce Munro is a leading lighting artist, creating installations using nature as his influence and a background for much of his work.
So much of your life is inspired by the landscape. Our own interest in the landscape and gardening started with trees. What is your favourite tree?
I love Gum trees because they remind me of my days in Australia; images of ghostly, smooth limbed Dryads dancing across ultramarine skies are etched into my memory.
What is your inspiration for using light with the landscape?
Light is a medium of expression that felt instinctively familiar. Landscapes and light are natural dancing partners as they have many complimentary characteristics.
Gardening and being outdoors is one area that is good for the soul and mental wellbeing. Light helps illuminate that no matter what time of day it is. How would you suggest best creating light for the garden, small or large?
We tend to forget that light is 24/7. Gardens are living entities that morph with changes of light from moment to moment. At night, light needs to be used sparingly; in balance with nature's illuminations (the Moon and stars).
You have used CDs to create areas of light in the past and encouraged others to join you in the process. Is Solar power something that interests you?
I use CDs/DVDs because they have wonderful light qualities (I briefly borrow them before they are recycled). Solar is of great interest, and we are currently working on a number of large projects using this technology.
Hedges create wonderful architectural formula for gardeners to work with. Is that a structure you use with light too and if so what is your favourite shrub to use with light?
Hedges have many practical and aesthetic qualities. Trees and hedges are often used as arboreal barriers to create outside rooms. In Spring, I look forward to the purple blooms of Rhododendrons that crown the canopy of leaves above a mossy silent Buddha.
What was your least favourite project in working with the landscape?
Thankfully I have only been disappointed working in the landscape on one occasion. In this instance I allowed someone else to choose an inappropriate location for an installation. I was disappointed with myself for allowing it to happen.
Steps are an important area to illuminate. How do you use different levels to create light in the landscape and garden? Do you have any suggestions for steps?
Indirect lighting is best for path and steps (not to see the light source). There is a fine balance to be struck between the functional lighting and a sculptural light installation.
We are a great believer in ponds, be they small or large, giving enormous opportunities for wildlife to thrive. Do you think of that too when you are creating lighting installations?
The old adage of not acting with children or animals is similar for lighting designers and artists when it comes to mixing water and light. If one is brave enough to dabble keep it simple and use quality fittings.
You have worked with huge landscapes in your time including areas in Uluru, Australia. What has been your biggest challenge in creating a garden or outdoor installation?
The biggest challenges for most projects is in the planning. I am fortunate to work with a very talented team who make the most complex installations a joy to work on.
What would be your top tip for gardeners in making the most of the garden lighting wise?
My top tip is to employ the services of a lighting designer; they will save you money and disappointment.