'Reflected Vision' sculpture

Sculpture is shimmering vision on Streatham Campus

A kaleidoscopic sculpture providing optical illusions is now located outside The Bill Douglas Cinema Museum on University of Exeter’s Streatham Campus. The shiny new interactive sculpture of mirrored stainless steel entitled ‘Reflected Vision’ allows visitors to see themselves and the landscape around them through the mirrored surfaces both inside and outside the 8ft structure.

Created by Scottish artist Kenny Munro, the sculpture was inspired by items from The Bill Douglas Cinema Museum, especially the pre-cinema objects and optical entertainments that create different ways of seeing. There was a fascination with illusions and reflection, seen in objects such as the kaleidoscope, and the sculpture will create multiple reflections when visitors use it.

Another one of these items is the iconic Magic Lantern, which was popular from the 17th century and part of the tradition of optical projection. It was the forerunner of the modern slide projector and initially used to capture images that could then be shown to an audience, to entertain and educate.  A model of the Magic Lantern crowns the top of the ‘Reflected Vision’ sculpture which has a great position on the grass bank above Prince of Wales Road, looking over the city of Exeter.

Bill Douglas was both a filmmaker and a collector and the museum was founded from the huge collection of moving image ephemera he put together with his friend Peter Jewell.

The creation of the sculpture marks an important stage in drawing further attention to Bill’s passion for optical illusion. Peter Jewell said:“As an optical sculpture it would naturally appeal to Bill. He might think of it as a gigantic kaleidoscope which people can actually get inside; so for a few seconds it’s almost like going to the cinema and seeing yourself on the silver screen.”

In the epigraph to the published script of Bill Douglas’s film Comrades, there is an inscription from the poem the Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám. The text highlights Bill’s fascination with the wonder of different ways of viewing the world and has been incorporated into the sculpture with a stone bearing the inscription:

For in and out, above, about, below

‘tis nothing but a Magic Shadow-show,

Play’d in a box whose Candle is the Sun,

Round which we Phantom Figures come and go.

Phil Wickham, the curator of the Bill Douglas Cinema Museum said: “The ‘Reflected Vision’ sculpture will be both an attraction for visitors to the museum, which offers artefacts on the history of the moving image with a collection of over 75,000 items and an impressive addition to the University’s acclaimed sculpture trail.”

The environmental artist, Kenny Munro shares the same Scottish heritage as Bill Douglas and is a great admirer of Bill’s Douglas’s films. Munro trained at the Edinburgh College of Art and the Royal College of Art.  He has designed many public works of art in Scotland, including a sculpture called ‘A Place of Dreams’ in Bill’s home area of Newcraighall, Edinburgh. 

Munro said:“It seems appropriate to make a companion feature in stainless steel to the sculpture I created in Scotland to both celebrate Bill’s profound links to Devon and the large and exciting cinema museum at the University, which is open to the public.”

The sculpture has been largely funded through private donations, the Bill Douglas and Peter Jewell Trust and through the Exeter University Foundation, as well as the generosity of suppliers. 


Date: 22 April 2015

Read more University News