Installation Art: Light and Shadow

Installation Art: Light and Shadow

Meet artists who are transforming spaces through light and shadow. These striking sculptures cast intricate patterns images on gallery walls, creating immersive environments.

Cornelia Parker

To create Cold Dark Matter, Cornelia Parker (b. 1956) requested that the British Army explode the contents of a garden shed. The surviving pieces have been used by to create an installation suspended from the ceiling. Lit by a single lightbulb, the fragments cast dramatic shadows on the gallery’s walls. “The shed looked like it was re-exploding or perhaps coming back together again,” the artist explains.

Find out more with Tate.

Olafur Eliasson

Olafur Eliasson’s (b. 1967) Map for unthought thoughts plays out within a semicircular space – using mirrors to create the illusion of a full, circular room. A rotating light sits at the centre, causing the shadows of visitors to be cast onto a curved white wall. The pattern and the size of the audience’s silhouettes undergo constant transformation; the artwork never appears the same way twice.

Find out more on the artist’s website.

Tim Noble and Sue Webster

Shown here is Wild Mood Swings, a sculpture by Tim Noble and Sue Webster (b. 1966, 1967). The duo blend assemblage, light, shadow and humour – creating sculptures from piles of debris. These constructions are, in reality, extremely precise. When light is directed at them from a certain angle, figurative shadows appear – as if by magic. Discarded waste transforms into recognisable forms.

Find out more on the artists’ website.

Anila Quayyum Agha

Anila Quayyum Agha (b. 1965) is a Pakistani-American artist creating illuminated environments from patterns of light and shadow. The works evoke the sacred, taking inspiration from Islamic architectural motifs found in mosques and historic sites. Geometric shapes are cast across the gallery walls, ceiling and floor – transforming the room into a space for reflection.

Find out more on the artist’s website.


Lead image: Anila Quayyum Agha, All the Flowers Are for Me, 2017. Courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum.
1. Cornelia Parker, Cold Dark Matter: An Exploded View, 1991. Installation view, Chisenhale Gallery. Commissioned and produced by Chisenhale Gallery. Tate Collection, London. Photo Copyright Hugo Glendinning. Courtesy the artist and Frith Street Gallery, London.
2. Olafur Eliasson, Map For Unthought Thoughts, 2014
3. Wild Mood Swings. Tim Noble and Sue Webster, 2009-2010, 2 wooden stepladders, discarded wood, light projector, dimensions variable © 2010, courtesy of the artists.
4. Anila Quayyum Agha, Intersections, 2013.

Posted on 18 November 2020

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