A Certain Kind of Light At Towner

I recently worked with a group of adult writers at Towner Art Gallery in Eastbourne at the exhibition  “A Certain Kind of Light.”

I wrote about the class on The Drawn To The Page blog but wanted to review  the show itself as it had a big imact on me.

The concept of the show is simple- a collection of art work featuring artist’s responses to light, from the last 60 years.

Light is everywhere and affects everything- from giving us headaches to keeping us alive, and feeding our inner lives. This is a big, cosmic show that goes everywhere light goes and I loved it.

 I enjoyed the work where there wasn’t much ego, autobiography, or conceptual explanation needed. The artists I enjoyed used their incredible skill to become very clean windows that light could shine through. Their work seemed all about light, not about them.

For example, Raphael Hefti’s ‘Lycopodium’ picture has a suggestion of a journey to somewhere magnificent drenched in light. It made me think of the romantic landscapes of John Martin  that blew my mind when I was a child. But ‘Lycopodium’ has the awe and wonder without the specific and limiting narrative. Its sophisticated poetry comes from its quality of being something that ‘just is’ like a flower or a tree.


This tiny photo gives no real idea of the piece in real life!

This effortless natural quality was made by a fantastically obscure mad-professor process: the artist exploded moss spores over light sensitive paper. He used this sophisticated process to create a piece that looks like it was created by evolution and natural growth. I feel artists like Hefti capture bolts of lightning in jam jars. They find extraordinary ways of making extraordinary things visible.

The pieces I connected with all had this quality, like Katie Paterson’s ‘Totality’ – a mirror ball in which every tiny mirror reflects an image of a real lunar eclipse onto a dance floor that stretches your imagination and sense of wonder.


Roger Ackling’s Sunlight on Wood series are made by slowly burning lovely horizontal lines in found wood with sunlight through a magnifying glass. The unimaginably distant  power of the sun is focussed and controlled by human hands to create something intimate and calm and approachable. This happens everyday, everywhere: the impossible,  impersonal sun transformed into endlessly varied and forms. I think this is a miracle.


All these pieces, and more, came together to give me a sense of light as one mind with infinitely varied moods that perfectly reflect human experience. It’s a big, awesome, cynicism-free exhibition that awakens the wonder of it all. I think you should go.

Picture credits, from Towner website, in order they appear on this blog:

Raphael Hefti, From the series ‘Lycopodium’, 2012. Arts Council Collection, Southbank Centre, London. A Certain Kind of Light, 2017. Towner Art Gallery, Eastbourne. Photo: Pete Jones

Installation view, Katie Paterson, Totality, 2016. Courtesy of the Arts Council Collection.A Certain Kind of Light, 2017. Towner Art Gallery, Eastbourne. Photo: Alison Bettles.
Roger Ackling, installation view, A Certain Kind of Light, 2017. Towner Art Gallery, Eastbourne. Photo: Pete Jones


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