NORTHERN TERRITORY, AUSTRALIA: There’s nothing quite like sunset in the Top End in summer when a multitude of colours stretch across the sky and nature puts on some brief but spectacular light shows. But the biggest light show of all this summer is Tropical Light, a series of eight large illuminated sculptures by artist Bruce Munro.
Spread out along a 2.5km trail spanning the Darwin CBD and waterfront, Tropical Light reflects the Northern Territory’s raw beauty, rich character and spectacular sunsets. Darwin has been quietly making its mark on the arts scene in recent years, but Munro’s stunning alfresco art gallery turns it up a notch, sealing the city’s status as an Australian art hub.
Munro first visited the Top End in 1992 and has returned many times since, inspired by its natural light and landscape, its sense of adventure, and its place as a cultural and culinary melting pot. Each piece in Tropical Light is a nod to his experiences in the Territory. Green Flash, for example, was inspired by a phenomenon that occurs at sunset when light splits into different colours. Another installation, Light Shower, has 3000 drops of light reminiscent of the wet season, while Telegraph Rose is shaped like the Territory’s floral emblem, Sturt’s desert rose.
Munro’s admiration for the Northern Territory is reciprocated. His Field of Light installation which opened at Uluru in 2016 has drawn nearly half a million visitors to the Red Centre. Initially a temporary exhibition, it has proved so popular it has been extended indefinitely. His first city-wide exhibition, Tropical Light is supplemented with works by six Territory artists. An initiative of the Northern Territory Government, it is illuminated nightly from 7pm to 10pm until 30 April 2020.
The Adina Apartment Darwin Waterfront andVibe Hotel Darwin Waterfront are located on the Light Trail, enabling guests to have a completely immersive experience. The relaxed and friendly Vibe Hotel is within walking distance of both the CBD and the waterfront, an entertainment and dining hub with great shopping, restaurants, cafés and pubs. Come and see the hotel lobby display of hanging birds nest by day and budgerigar birds by night. The exterior pool fencing will have some additional lighting in the form of raindrops. And don't miss the tropical cocktails and food on offer in the hotel's Curve Restaurant.
So too is the Adina which has spacious one- and two-bedroom serviced apartments and studio rooms for both short and long-term stays. Both hotels are only a stone’s throw from the Darwin Convention Centre and the popular Darwin Waterfront Lagoon with its family friendly wave pool.
Local operators have organised special tours and events in conjunction with Tropical Light. These include sunset tours, twilight cruises, dining and V8 Airboat packages, evening circus performances, Artscape walking tours, and progressive dinners at waterfront venues with the installations as a backdrop.It’s free to walk the 2.5km trail and it is easily accessible for people of all ages, with level pathways, undercover rest spots and easy-to-read signage at each sculpture location. Maps can be found online and from volunteers along the way. If you have the time, view the sculptures by day then return for a different perspective at night. You could explore the exhibition over two nights, as the sculptures are evenly split between the CBD and waterfront precincts. An elevator and Sky Bridge walkway connect the two precincts.
Bruce Munro hopes Tropical Light will bring people together. “Art is a great way to draw people together, to start discussions, share opinions and ideas,” he says. “Become part of the art and the art becomes part of you.”