Midnight Sun is an immersive artwork by New Zealand artist Sara Hughes. Comprising 96 glass panels of imagery, it wraps its way from the shelter on Willow Street, around the Tauranga Art Gallery and down Wharf Street.
The title refers to a phenomenon that occurs over the Arctic and Antarctic during the summer solstice when there is an extended period of daylight that lasts 24 hours. Hughes says “For much of this time, the sun lingers near and on the horizon, creating the many colours I have used in the artwork. Midnight Sun will be illuminated for 24 hours, either from natural light or artificial light – it’s like a sun that never sets.”
The artwork has many layers to discover. The artist began by commissioning Tauranga photographer Anne Shirley to capture sunsets over the month of June (2021), Hughes then created paintings in response to these photographs. Like an enormous collage she combined this imagery by digitally scanning, cutting out and bringing together hundreds of layers to create what she describes as a “walk through painting.” This imagery was then printed onto clear vinyl and applied to the glass. When viewed after dark the artwork is lit by a corridor of light, its tone mimicking dusk, a feature the artist engaged illumination specialist Richard Bracebridge to design.
Midnight Sun casts a warm glow on Tauranga’s city centre. Opened to coincide with Aotearoa’s first Matariki public holiday, it creates a collective moment for us all - an invitation to embrace the renewal of the natural world, and the hope it offers for the built world we stand in.
Read an essay featured on ARTNOW by writer Rosie Dawson-Hewes
About the artist Sara Hughes is a dynamic artist who has exhibited extensively, her paintings and installations are held in many important Australasian public and private collections including the Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki; Te Papa Tongarewa, Wellington; the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra; and the Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney. She has undertaken a number of high profile public commissions including her most complex project which will be installed in 2023 on all four sides of the New Zealand International Convention Centre in Auckland, becoming the largest integrated public art work in Aotearoa.
Credits Sara Hughes, Midnight Sun, 2022, vinyl, glass, lighting system, 96 panels, total area 260m2
Commissioned by Supercut Projects in partnership with Tauranga City Council and support from Tauranga Art Gallery and Creative New Zealand. Thanks to sponsors Manawa Energy and Techlight NZ. And project contractors PowerCo, Guild & Spence Electrical, Rutherford Signs, InterGroup, City Care Tauranga, Road Safe Traffic Management and Light Works