Louise T Blouin Institute Opens In West London With James Turrell

By Caroline Lewis | 12 October 2006
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graphic image of a building with three floors and rows of large lit up windows

Rendering of the installed James Turrell facade of the Louise T Blouin Institute. © Borgos Dance 2006, courtesy the Louise T Blouin Foundation

One of the largest non-government funded, not-for-profit cultural spaces in London opens on October 13 2006 with a major exhibition of work by American artist James Turrell.

The Louise T Blouin Institute in West London comprises 35,000 sq ft of space which will provide a showcase for established and emerging contemporary artists and performance art, and provide a base of operations for the Louise T Blouin Foundation.

The former 1920s coachworks has been transformed with a private investment of £20million from Louise T Blouin McBain, and will feature a permanent installation by Turrell that makes the façade into a huge light artwork.

photo of a triangle projected in the corner of a room

James Turrell, Argus White, 1967. © Florian Holzherr, courtesy the artist and ALBION

The building’s 80 external windows are lit from the inside with LEDs controlled by a DMX programmer, resulting in an ever-changing artwork on the outer surface of the Institute. The site-specific installation complements the inaugural exhibition within, A Life in Light, running until February 28 2007.

Inside, lightworks created by Turrell dating from his early career to very recent works are displayed in the 5,000 sq ft of the ground floor and on the second floor in another large gallery.

The ground floor is divided up in to darkened chambers and small galleries featuring projections of the artist’s works Argus White (1967), Orca Blue (1969), Alta Blue (1968) and Shanta Red (1968). At the time he made these, Turrell was not long out of university, where he studied experimental psychology. It was at this time he enrolled in art college, and began playing with light, which he projected into the corners of rooms to create floating cubes with the illusion of three-dimensionality.

photo of a building interior stretching up three floors with white walls and light cast by large windows

The reception. © Borgos Dance 2006, courtesy the Louise T Blouin Foundation

One of his most recent works, Tall Glass (2006) can be seen on the second floor, along with Magnetron (2000) and a series of 20 aquatints (First Light, 1989-90). Tall Glass is like a light painting, its rectangular field of colour gently shifting.

“Turrell seeks not to enhance light,” says Institute founder Louise T McBain, “but simply to reveal its place in our singular lives, in the history of humankind stretching back to the first flame a human ever found, and then forward, into the cascades of galaxies that suggest, in their distant shimmers, who we may someday become.”

photo of a triangle projected in the corner of a room

James Turrell, Raethro Pink, 1968. © Florian Holzherr, courtesy the artist and ALBION

The Louise T Blouin Foundation also aims to stimulate cultural regeneration locally, with a series of educational events for children and adults. A programme of activities for local schools will tie in with the Turrell exhibition, as will a lecture series for adults, to be held on the first floor of the Institute.

Press Officer Ashley Eldridge-Ford explained that the first string of exhibitions will be diverse, with design, architecture, photography and sculpture all planned to fill the galleries in the coming years.

“The idea for the next year is to show what the space is capable of,” she said, “so visitors are wowed every time.”

An exhibition of work by Marc Quinn is next on the agenda, opening in September 2007. The artist’s work, which includes the sculpture of Alison Lapper in Trafalgar Square, is sure to provide some interesting educational opportunities. In 1991, Quinn made a sculpture from 4.5litres of his own blood.

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