Bruce Stilwell with the beginnings of his giant light umbrella for Light Nelson. Photo: Charles Anderson.

Prepared for light downpour


Bruce Stilwell’s neighbours haven’t started giving him curious looks yet.

But soon they might as they see a 6m wide giant umbrella taking form on his back lawn.
The Nelson artist is well known for his use of concentric patterns on all manner of mediums, but for his latest project he has decided to go much lighter.

“I thought it would be great to do something on a bit bigger scale and it sort of grew from there.”

His giant umbrella will form one of the key pieces in the upcoming Light Nelson exhibition which will see more than 60 installations dotted through Queen’s Gardens, Albion Square, and the campus for Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology.

It has grown into one of Nelson’s largest and favourite, free, biennial events, attracting more than 55,000 visitors in its last outing in 2016.

“After going to the last Light Nelson it really inspired me,” Bruce says. “I thought I’d really like to be a part of it.”

So he is creating his umbrella using metres and metres of twine attached to more than 2000 screws, that will be wrapped around the umbrella.

He will then install eight fluorescent bulbs with black lights so the whole piece will glow purple.

He started about a month ago – just working on it a few hours each night.

Initially he was going to do something smaller but realised he wasn’t going to be able to fit it on his trailer anyway, so he might as well go big.

“It doesn’t look that big now but when it’s standing up, sitting on its handle, it will be something,” Bruce says. “It’s a new dimension for me.”

Light Nelson will once again brighten up Nelson from 6-10 July 2018. To find out more about Light Nelson 2018 visit where you can join the mailing list for regular updates, or check out Light Nelson on Facebook