Chris Wood studied 3D Design/Furniture in North London, before going on to study Glass at the Royal College of Art. Her interest in light began on the first project she did on the furniture course, which was to design a light fitting. She soon discovered ways of working with light as a material. The starting point of her design process was to explore light.
“My work is an exploration of the phenomenon of light. I aim to encourage people to see light in all its glory. The everyday nature of light results in its aesthetic beauty being overlooked. I simply want others to be as excited and surprised by light as I am.”
To explore the phenomenon and aesthetic potential of light, she began working with glass.
“There is so much to discover about the material and how it plays with light. I am as excited working with glass today, as I was the first time I began playing with it.”
Working with Dichroic glass, she reveals the wonderful and varied nature of light, and it’s magic! Dichroic (meaning two colour) is an optical coating that selectively reflects certain wavelengths of light and allows the remaining wavelengths to transmit through. Developed in the late fifties by NASA to protect against the potentially harmful effects of direct sunlight and cosmic radiation, dichroic glass, with its striking visual qualities, has been used in a variety of scientific and industrial applications. The material shifts from being reflective like a golden mirror to vibrantly coloured or almost transparent, depending upon the viewpoint and angle of light. It is a material that very eloquently expresses the magic of the phenomenon of light.
As well as producing work for galleries, exploring glass and light in an architectural setting is of paramount interest for Chris Wood.
The first major commission she won was Luce Colorata, a large suspended artwork in a library and health centre.
This was followed by Chroma, an artwork on the façade of the Premier Inn, Cambridge. It consisted of an arrangement of dichroic glass panels that project from the southerly face of the building above the main entrance, the ever changing sunlight created patterns of coloured light that bathe the façade of the building.
Other commissions include Light Garden, an installation for London Bridge Hospital, central London.
“The brief was to introduce colour and light into a rather gloomy tall thin monochrome atrium space. The only light that entered the space was from the overhead glass roof. I decided to clad areas of the southerly walls with mirror in order to bounce more light into the space. The opposing wall was also mirror clad so the light zig zags down the walls landing of the floor of the space. I was unable to suspend anything in the space therefore had to work from the ground. To link with the space’s historical connections with plants and In order to bring more light and colour deep into the space I designed a light garden. Large discs of dichroic at different sizes and heights were installed on a bed of white Astroturf. The artwork responds to the ever changing lighting conditions in the space, softly bathing the white Astroturf in vibrant colour at times and at other projecting dynamic shards of light around the space.”
A current public art commission she is working on is for the Great Ormond Street Hospital, the world famous children’s hospital in central London. She was commissioned to create a piece that celebrates the gift of life.
“It is a piece that acknowledges the astonishing generosity of child organ donors and their families and the lives that are transformed by this amazing gift of life….. The subject of this commission, The Gift of Life is such a massively emotive subject, that it demands an extremely delicate touch. My approach to this commission has been to look at abstract ways of communicating the theme through the form of the work and the manipulation of light.
As part of my research for this project I read many personal stories about how organ donation has helped both the recipient and the bereaved. Words struggle to convey the enormity of the act, it is absolutely breath taking. Therefore I wanted to produce an artwork that was simply WOW!”
For further information on the work of Chris Wood see www.chriswoodglass.co.uk
Editor: Interalia Magazine
Get the Full Experience
Read the rest of this article, and view all articles in full from just £10 for 3 months.