Let there be neon light: Tate Britain unveils 'drawing in space'

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Let there be light: A gallery assistant looks at the neon sculpture

It is made from almost two kilometres of spiralling neon light and has been described as a “drawing in space” and a “celestial map”.

The sculpture, by Welsh artist Cerith Wyn Evans, is the latest artwork to go on show at Tate Britain.

The vast maze of neon tubes is one of the most challenging commissions ever to be installed in the neo-classical Duveen Galleries.

“It’s an extremely ambitious neon drawing in space that gradually unfolds over time,” said senior curator Clarrie Wallis as the piece was unveiled on Monday.

“It took 19 days solid to install with 25 people working on it – a lot of doughnuts were consumed, but I haven’t put on any weight!”

Here’s a quick video tour in 20 seconds.

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The artwork is made up of nearly 2km of neon lights

The sculpture – Forms in Spaceā€¦ by Light (in Time) – is structured into three sections with inspirations ranging from the movements of Japanese Noh theatre to the astrophysics of the Large Hadron Collider.

The work begins with a single neon ring which functions “as a peephole”, allowing the visitor to orientate themselves.

It leads to three discs which resemble the diagrams used by opticians for testing eyesight.

The final part of the installation is an explosion of complex lines and shapes that dominate the last gallery.

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The work is partly inspired by astrophysics

“The light has a particular quality which has been designed to mimic the light in the northern hemisphere on a sunny day,” said Ms Wallis. “It’s very pure.”

Wyn Evans is no stranger to Tate Britain, having worked there as a guard in the 1980s while studying at Saint Martins School of Art.

“It’s a space that he loves and has known for a long period of time,” said Ms Wallis.

Every year a British artist is invited to make new work in response to the grand spaces of the Duveen Galleries.

Previous commissions include Pablo Bronstein (2016), Christina Mackie (2015), Phyllida Barlow (2014), Fiona Banner (2010), Martin Creed (2008) and Mark Wallinger (2007).

Cerith Wyn Evans: Forms in Space… by Light (in Time) is at Tate Britain in London from 28 March to 20 August.

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