New Neon

A new year means a new sculpture (finally!) and how fitting it is that neon comes from the Greek word neos meaning ‘new.’ In February I attended a neon workshop in Wakefield, where I got to learn about the history of neon as a commercial industry, have an introduction to glass blowing and bending, and work with a professional neon sign maker in making my own design, that I have wanted to make for over a year and a half. I particularly enjoyed learning about the science behind the illumination; it is in actual fact the gas itself that emits light in the glass tube as it is excited by the electric current running from one end of the tube to the other. Learning the process behind how neon signs are designed and made changes how I would approach designing a sculpture for neon, it was interesting to learn that letters and writing are actually the most difficult designs to execute even though this is what neon is predominantly used for.

In this picture the neon pyramid sits on a drift of sand with a coil light bulb above. A sense of time is evoked by the ancient geometric shape, the eccentric early light bulb  and the sand. The sand next to the glass also physically manifests the passage of time as glass is made from sand particles and, over time, will become sand again. So although the neon is ‘new,’ it, like all my other works, is concerned with history, the ancient, and our contemporary attitudes to that history. Just as our ancestors looked on wonder at the sun rising every morning, seeing it as a life-giving deity, so we still look on the artworks, and the power that they hold… And that’s all I’m prepared to say about it at this juncture!

Apologies for the substandard photograph, it’s becoming more and more apparent as I go along that light-based sculpture is very tricky to document…

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