SILENT LIGHT (Environment, 2020) Mussenden Temple

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(Exhibition, 2020)

“Years ago, we discovered some beautiful abandoned and derelict glass-houses and we became obsessed with the lichen and algae on the glass panels – a natural expression of time – it became a precious material for us. Light projections through the glass create silhouettes that evoke the lunar surface – another ancient symbol of chronology – the moon is an anchor of time. Mussenden Temple exudes the presence of an observatory, and is a powerfully elemental location to exhibit our installation ‘Stained Moons’. We invite visitors to experience the landscape, the Temple and the artworks wordlessly, and in darkness. Silence leaves space to focus our attention on our place – and time – in the world.”

National Trust Northern Ireland and JAMESPLUMB present ‘Silent Light’, a light installation and dark sky experience at Downhill Demesne and Mussenden Temple, from 9th–23rd February 2020. Visitors will be steeped in the landscape. Embarking on a silent walk to Mussenden Temple which sits perched at the edge of a 120ft cliff overlooking the North Atlantic Ocean. Exposed. Yet protective. Within the Temple, an installation of ‘Stained Moons’ awaits. The viewings are in silence and in darkness, after twilight, for fourteen nights in February 2020. The first during the Full Moon on 9th February. The last on the New Moon on 23rd February. ‘Stained Moons’ is an installation of light and shadow, evoking the eight phases of the moon. The images are found within the broken glass reclaimed from an abandoned and overgrown greenhouse. Stained glass. Stained by time. Each panel has been carefully chosen for the intricate patterns of lichen and dirt. The formation of the image is realised through a dual process. A selective and delicate removal of the patina leaves precisely formed spheres and crescents on the panels intact. In parallel, a constant interviewing, stacking and combining of the plates creates the image. The image of light and shadow, reflecting back to us from the Earth’s Moon. A series of optical instruments with carefully calibrated lenses and mirrors project the images onto delicate hanging screens. The elusive and distant moon is brought near. Silent Light sees the artwork cloaked within the circular Mussenden Temple. Originally built as a library in the late eighteenth-century by the eccentric Earl Bishop, the Temple exudes the presence of an observatory in an area of dark skies. The location is powerfully elemental, and the emphasis on silence – an evening of wordlessness – leaves space for a focus on the experiential. Viewings will be choreographed with timed tickets which will be available from 9th December through the National Trust website, downhill-demesne-and-hezlett-house


Photo Credit to Rich Stapleton for images No. 1-5, and 13-14.