Bruce Munro Chronology
Bruce Beaton st. Clair Munro born on 2nd June in London to Judith (née Ames) and Brian Munro, the youngest of three children. Lives in Harpenden Hertfordshire until parents separate and finally divorce in 1965.
Moves with mother, elder brother Matthew and sister Jane to “Spinners” cottage, Rayne, Essex. His father moves to Salcombe, Kingsbridge Estuary, South Devon. Receives a solid education at the Felsted School including drawing and painting from life. From the age of nine art was an important subject for him, as he had a natural ability for it and less aptitude for other endeavours. As a youngster, Munro found himself often in trouble for daydreaming.
After completing a one-year Foundation course in Art and Design at Braintree Technical college he commences a degree course at Bristol Polytechnic in Fine in Art; with a grounding in Art History and a focus on painting. At the end of the first year of this degree he questions his motivation.
Breaks off his studies for 14 months and works a multitude of jobs including a commis chef, a Christmas job at Harrods, and an airline courier, until he realizes that the practice of art genuinely fills his mind, rather than being a case of settling on art for a career because he’s not well suited for other pursuits. Resumes degree in September. Starts to experiment with “reaction paintings,” based on a personal process of working with paint alone, over the course of hours, in response to an interior monologue of narrative invention.
Munro graduates from Bristol Polytechnic with a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Art. After much fretting about his potential as an artist, he decides to relax into it and moves to London. Works at Medici Gallery, Grafton Street, a shop dealing in fine art prints and posters. Loves the job as it allows him to look at pictures of art all day. He also focuses on moving to warmer climes as England seems depressing with few prospects.
Travels to Sydney, Australia, intending it to be a 6-month holiday. Finds a variety of work as a cook, bricklayer, aerobics instructor, and finally illustrator — with this last realizing that he could make money from his imagination after years of being criticized as a daydreamer.
Takes an evening award course with Saatchi and Saatchi and comes across an ultraviolet plastic product whose properties intrigue him. His course tutor Terry Bunton writes a brochure that helps him start an illuminated display business for retailers and exhibitions, Neo Neon Pty Ltd. This includes creating small commercial art jobs and window displays.
Sells his business to De De Ce Group Pty Ltd and works first as R&D developing signage products and then as Head of Production for a new company De De Ce Signs Pty Lt, learning about manufacturing and production techniques. Munro purposely leaves his fine art ambitions out of the equation as he reasons he needs career experience.
Makes notes in his sketchbook of moments of condensed connectedness with nature, feeling that these moments of clarity are worthy subject matter to recreate through art. Sets off with fiancée, Serena, on a four-month tour of Australia to explore the natural surroundings.
Conceives of an artwork, while camping at Uluru, that would bloom at night like dormant desert seeds responding to rain. Moves back to the UK, initially London, and he and Serena marry. First daughter Camilla (Millie) is born in December.
Moves to the country in Dorset, renting an old post office as a studio and intending to make a living as a painter, which proves to be an unrealistic goal. He and Serena consider moving back to Australia as finding work has become very difficult in England.
Daughter Florence (Florrie) is born in July. Aware of his family commitments, he purchases a kiln and starts a tile business. The Munros move to Pear Tree Cottage, Somerset.
Bruce joins Kevin McCloud design studio to run a specialist paint finishing studio for custom made luminaires. Continues developing his own work at home, first solo exhibition of light works, Round House, Black Swan Gallery, Frome, Somerset.
Daughter Isabel (Tink) is born in May. Munro decides to go out on his own, working on mostly residential projects in paint, tile and lighting. He realizes that his light-based inventions are appreciated and began a series of bespoke designs. Osram names him as its artist lighting advisor for domestic lighting schemes.
Over the next few years the business develops. Receives commissions in UK, France and Barbados to light houses and gardens. More opportunities to create his own pieces arise.
Munro designs the first Snowball Chandelier for Babington House, Somerset, UK.
His father dies August 12. As a result, some months after, Munro finds himself beset with anxiety, fear and a loss of confidence for six months to a year, and credits this interlude with an increased sensitivity and capacity for compassion. He begins to think again about simple experiences of connection as valid material to serve as the basis of art.
Son Thomas (Tom) is born in December.
Designs Sputnik Pendant and invited to exhibit this and Snowball chandelier at Sotheby’s Contemporary exhibition, Bond Street London. Sputnik chandelier purchased by Liberty & Co. for new headquarters on Bond Street. Solo exhibition at King’s Library Development Chelsea Harbour. Referencing his past sketchbooks and early ideas, Munro starts to talk freely and to dream about making big pieces inspired by his experiences of emotional clarity, especially the illuminated field from Uluru.
Purchases Long Knoll, a 16th c derelict farmhouse and outbuildings, with a seven-acre large field, and Munro begins to entertain concrete ideas to act on his desires to execute very large outdoor installations in the field behind his house. He looks for low cost components as an economic necessity and uses components he understands from his lighting design business. Harvey Nichols, Knightsbridge, London, commissions a window display of 10,000 illuminated stems.
Using 5,000 of the Harvey Nichols components, Munro creates a design for the Victoria & Albert Museum’s Pirelli Garden as a participant in the “Brilliant” exhibition. He hires two young lads from the nearby village to stake out his first true Field of Light at Long Knoll. The costs for this are more than he anticipated; leaving Munro 50,000 pounds in the red, but the installation generates interest that sustains him for the next 18 months. He leaves the illuminated field up for a year, with a sign reading, “Please turn the lights off when you’re finished.”
Entrepreneur and family friend James Alexandroff helps Munro to create an infrastructure to realize his artistic aspirations.
Joins Cameron Macintosh design team to revamp Queens Theatre, London; creates Field of Light for the Eden Project, St Austell, Cornwall; designs first Light Shower for Corrour House, Loch Ossian, Scotland
Commissioned to create installation for the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) in London.
Creates CDSea using 600,000 used CDs and the help of 140 friends at Long Knoll, which remains on display for three weeks. The artwork was inspired by a remembrance of feeling connected to his father in England through the sea from far-off in Australia. Exhibits Water-Towers, based on his fascination with synaesthesia (seeing sound in color) and Light Shower at Salisbury Cathedral, Wiltshire, UK. Participates in the “Contemplating the Void: Interventions in the Guggenheim Museum” exhibition, New York. Creates bespoke chandelier for the Royal Society, London, UK.
Participates in Biennale Kijkduin, The Hague, Netherlands; Field of Light is exhibited at Holburne Museum, Bath, UK, where Munro also creates Star Turn as a fundraiser for Help for Heroes. Opens exhibition sponsored by Bentley Motors at Kensington Palace, London, UK and exhibition sponsored by JP Morgan at Universities of Glasgow, York, London and Warwick, UK. Receives FX Product Designer of the Year Award.
Opens first solo US exhibition at Longwood Gardens, Kennett Square, Pennsylvania. Exhibits at Waddesdon Manor, Buckinghamshire, UK; the Oslo Festival of Light, Tjuvholmen, Norway; Pratt Institute, NY; and in Madrid sponsored by Telefonica, S. A. Completes bespoke commissions for Royal United Hospital, Bath, UK; Moet Hennessy UK; Alexander McQueen autumn/winter catwalk, Paris, France.
Opens exhibitions at Cheekwood Botanical Garden and Museum of Art, Nashville Tennessee; Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, Columbus, Ohio in the United States; and at Waddesdon Manor, Buckinghamshire, UK, where he will have an annual exhibition residency through 2015.
Exhibits Field of Light in three urban locations: St Andrew’s Square in Edinburgh city centre, at the Simbionte Festival, Mexico City and at Discovery Green, Houston, Texas. Completes Rhythm and Blues II, a public art commission at Wiltshire Music Center, Bradford on Avon, UK. Opens fourth US exhibition at the Hermitage Museum and Gardens, Norfolk VA which acquires a Light Shower commission for its permanent collection. Creates City Lights, a large-scale light sculpture for Nashville’s Prima Restaurant. Begins the Light and Language series of work and exhibits his first Morse code pieces including Ferryman’s Crossing II at Hermitage Museum and Garden and Waddesdon Manor, Star at Salisbury Cathedral and Between Worlds at Bath Spa University.
Opens exhibition at Atlanta Botanical Garden, Atlanta Georgia. Mounts the cultural collaboration “Desert Radiance,” comprised of four solo exhibitions, including Ferryman’s Crossing at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, Blooms at Scottsdale Public Art, Desert Botanical Garden, and Lisa Sette Gallery. Participates in Islamic Arts Festival, Sharjah Art Museum, Sharjah, UAE. Bell Chandelier acquired by Cheekwood Botanical Garden and Museum of Art. Opens the final exhibition of his residency with the Rothschild Foundation at Waddesdon Manor showing a light, language and audio piece …- – -… SOS.
Opens Field of Light Uluru, returning with his wife Serena to Australia’s Red Centre after 24 years. Realizing the solar-powered field of 50,000 stems at the source of its inspiration is the culmination of a long-held dream. The Ashmolean Museum, Oxford commissions and permanently acquires the artwork, Impression; Time Crossing Culture for its entrance. Participates in Sotheby’s annual Beyond Limits exhibition at Chatsworth House with the artwork Time and Again. These projects are influenced by Munro’s reflections on the passage of time, gained in the return to Uluru. Solo exhibition at Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, Chaska, Minnesota.
Munro exhibits in the USA and Scandinavia, and Field of Light re-opens for a second year at Uluru. Solo exhibitions premiere at Nicholas Conservatory and Gardens and Green Box Arts Festival in Green Mountain Falls, Colorado. Shortly after, Munro presents his work ‘Thank you for a very enjoyable game’ at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center. In November of the year, Munro open his first European exhibition at the Palm House of the Garden Society of Gothenburg and Slottskogen, the main park in the city. The site-specific commissions include Viva Tree, acquired by Texas Tech University for its Systems Administration building, and Light Shower by Sir Cameron Mackintosh for the Victoria Palace Theater, London. The year concludes with an installation in Odense, Denmark to celebrate the 175 anniversary of the citizenship of Hans Christian Andersen.
Field of Light Uluru is retained for exhibition in Australia’s Red Centre through 2020. Munro is honored as lead artist opening the sculpture park Jeju Light Art Festa on Jeju Island, South Korea and produces an installation at Avenue of Honour, in Albany, Australia, honoring the Anzacs on the centenary of the conclusion of World War I. Bruce Munro at Montalvo: Stories in Light opens at the Montalvo Art Center in Saratoga, California, showcasing a group of installations inspired by the “Narnia” stories of C.S. Lewis.