A rainbow is a beautiful, natural phenomenon which continues to inspire people in many ways. It has also inspired scientists and artists alike to further explore the nature of colour and light and how they are connected.
Today we know that light is made up of seven colours in this order: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. And one UK artist who’s mastered the medium of light in her installations is Chris Wood. For years, she has created dichroic arrangements that play with luminescence to produce a rainbow of shadows and radiant reflections.
Chris works by installing glass onto walls that refract light. This causes a kaleidoscopic of reflections and mandala-inspired mazes to appear in the shadows. To create this effect, she uses dichroic glass that was invented in the 1960’s by NASA; a two-tone material with a special optical coating that only reflects certain wavelengths of light.
“The material itself is transparent,” she explains, “however it shifts from being reflective like a golden mirror to vibrantly coloured or almost transparent depending upon the viewpoint and angle of light.”
With the material’s reactive nature in mind, Chris stresses the importance of installation. While the pieces shine their brightest when bathed in natural light, a nearby window isn’t enough to capture their full potential. The right amount of light needs to fall on the panels on an angle for the best range of rainbow colours. She notes that a wall with a window to the left or right or above is perfect, whereas a wall with a window in front of it is not.
“The optical materials I use in my work range from a simple water filled wine glass to the highly technical dichroic glass, basically anything that allows me to express the magic of light.”
With her expertise in light, Chris is often commissioned to create glowing installations for many institutions, including museums, galleries, hotels and hospitals.