It has been 11 art-filled years since Brisbane's Gallery of Modern Art first opened its doors, and the creative riverside hub just keeps going from strength to strength. As unveiled on Friday, July 13, GOMA is now home to an illuminating new permanent work: Night Life, a brand light installation by artist James Turrell.
You might be familiar with the Arizona-based artist's pieces if you've been to Mona or the National Gallery of Australia (NGA). He's the one behind the sky-centred installations at both galleries — at Mona, the gazebo-like Armana lights up at sunrise and sunset each day, and at the NGA in Canberra, Within without acts as an outdoor viewing chamber to enhance your view of the sky. All up, Turrell has created 80 'skyspaces' like these around the world.
Brisbane's Turrell piece isn't a standalone structure like these other two Australian works. Instead, Night Life lights up GOMA's eastern and southern white façades from within the building, using an 88-minute-long shifting pattern of vibrant coloured light developed by Turrell especially for the location. GOMA director Chris Saines describes it as "a permanent solid light installation that is a deeply immersive field of slowly changing colour."
When illuminated — which it will be from sunset to midnight each and every night from this point onwards — the gallery is visible from across the river and around South Bank's cultural precinct.
Commissioned for GOMA's tenth anniversary, while Night Life is a new addition, it actually ties into the gallery's history. As Saines explains, "during the development of GOMA, lead architects Kerry Clare, Lindsay Clare and James Jones envisaged an artist-illuminated 'white box' on the gallery's main pedestrian approaches. More than a decade on, Turrell's architectural light installation realises the potential of GOMA's white box façade, and completes a major aspect of the architects' original design intention."
Images: James Turrell's architectural light installation at Brisbane's Gallery of Modern Art. Photograph: Natasha Harth, QAGOMA.