The National Gallery at Canberra has a magnificent installation by James Turrell, Within Without (Skyspace 2010). Visitors enter via a beautiful walkway across a water moat into a grassy square pyramid, with the top removed so that from inside you are open to the sky above. You next encounter a large inner cone which you enter. Inside this cone there are seats around the edge and this time there is a large central circle cut from the dome’s ceiling, revealing the open sky above. Just before sunrise and just before sunset a special lightshow reveals a magical world of colour. Your eyes watch the sky which slowly becomes a pure black circle, even though the sky when you go outside is still in its evening shades of grey and blue. A must-see event if you happen to be near the NGA at sunrise or sunset. It is open to the public and is a free event. Students of all ages love it. We met one local family where the children say to their parents on a lovely clear afternoon that it is Turrell Time and they head over to see it in its sunset glory once more.
James Turrell is an American installation artist who works directly with light to create his artworks. He was originally a perceptual psychologist. “Turrell’s over eighty Skyspaces, chambers with an aperture in the ceiling open to the sky … (where) … the simple act of witnessing the sky from within a Turrell Skyspace, notably at dawn and dusk, reveals how we internally create the colors we see and thus, our perceived reality.”
“My work has no object, no image and no focus. With no object, no image and no focus, what are you looking at? You are looking at you looking. What is important to me is to create an experience of wordless thought.” (James Turrell)