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James Turrell Night Life

Home > Brisbane > Architecture | Art | Community Events | Free | Nightlife
by Geraldine Massey (subscribe)
I'm an experienced corporate communicator and editor with an eye for interesting events and an attachment to my trusty Oxford dictionary.
Published July 25th 2018
GOMA's FREE permanent light show is big, bold and beautiful
If you've been in the city near the river or at South Bank's cultural precinct after dark recently you may have noticed the Gallery of Modern Art ablaze with a colourful glowing fluorescence and wondered what was going on. Well, what's going on is James Turrell Night Life and it's not just a temporary light show. It's big, bold and beautiful and set to make GOMA's building itself the star of the gallery's artistic show in perpetuum. And it's FREE to watch every night from sunset to midnight.

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Image copyright Geraldine Massey.

I decided to round out my evening visit to GOMA's Cinémathèque for a lively whodunnit as part of The Great Detective Film Program with a close-up viewing of this masterful light show and I wasn't disappointed.

james turrell night life, james turrell light installation goma, gallery of modern art, goma light show, light installation goma, goma light up, light show south bank
Image copyright Geraldine Massey.

Background

I've always liked GOMA's glass-panelled pavilion building, with its balconies and timber slats, topped by a soaring overhanging roof that flips upwards gently at the corners. Designed by John Norman, Lindsay Clare, Kerry Clare, and James Jones and opened in December 2006 the building won the 2007 Royal Australian Institute of Architects National Award for Public Architecture.

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GOMA without the light show. Image by writer.

At the time there was a proposal to commission American artist James Turrell (world-renowned for his light installations) to create a work for GOMA's opening, but this did not go ahead. In 2017 to mark the gallery's 10th anniversary Turrell was finally commissioned to fulfil the architects' original vision of turning the building's facade into a giant canvas. James Turrell Night Life 2018 is the spectacular result.

james turrell night life, james turrell light installation goma, gallery of modern art, goma light show, light installation goma, goma light up, light show south bank
Image copyright Geraldine Massey.

The experience

I settled on a timber bench opposite the building to await the show. Just on dusk, at first almost imperceptibly, the translucent cube began to subtly glow with blue. The blue slowly intensified and morphed into purple, which became a vibrant pink and then a molten lava red.

james turrell night life, james turrell light installation goma, gallery of modern art, goma light show, light installation goma, goma light up
Image copyright Geraldine Massey.

I was entranced as the symphony of colours swelled and receded. It wasn't just a change from one colour to the next. Sometimes one intense colour faded and then blurred almost seamlessly into another.

james turrell night life, james turrell light installation goma, gallery of modern art, goma light show, light installation goma, goma light up, light show south bank
Image copyright Geraldine Massey.

Sometimes the colour shift began at one end of the building and moved across the facade, higlighting the demarcation between colours.

james turrell night life, james turrell light installation goma, gallery of modern art, goma light show, light installation goma, goma light up
Image copyright Geraldine Massey.


Sometimes one colour lingered for a while and then quickly intensified. Purples pulsed to pinks, yellows grew to greens. It was a rich kaleidoscopic display.

james turrell night life, james turrell light installation goma, gallery of modern art, goma light show, light installation goma, goma light up, light show south bank
Image copyright Geraldine Massey.

I had to tear myself away for the film but was keen to see how the darkening sky had changed the vista in my absence. Against a black sky the colours seemed even more vibrant and intense.

james turrell night life, james turrell light installation goma, gallery of modern art, goma light show, light installation goma, goma light up
Image copyright Geraldine Massey.

James Turrell Night Life is light at its luminous, lustrous best and a vibrant and artistic addition to Brisbane's nightscape. Come and watch the show.

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Why? See the spectacular light show that completes the architects' vision for GOMA
When: Every evening from sunset to midnight
Where: GOMA
Cost: FREE
Your Comment
Geraldine great to read about this. I went to a talk where they explained what it took to put the light installations onto the walls in Goma. Quite impressive. You captured the different lights so well. Marina
by Marina Marangos (score: 2|595) 78 days ago
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