Bill Culbert

Aotearoa New Zealand / England / France, b.1935, d.2019


  • 1970
  • Light bulb, metal, Perspex
  • Purchased 1980
  • 330 x 330 x 330mm
  • 80/81

Bill Culbert’s high school art teacher asked his students to stand in a dark room, then went outside. The sunlight streamed through the keyhole, projecting a tiny image of him – upside down and waving – on the room’s far wall. From that moment, Culbert was excited by light’s power to transform how we see the world. These sculptures were some of the first he made exploring the possibilities of electric light. In Celeste, he placed a lightbulb into a dark box full of tiny holes, then put that inside a bigger Perspex box so that it generates multiple ‘ghost’ bulbs on the outside. Reflection 1 tests the line between reality and illusion, as another bulb repeats itself into infinity. Culbert liked ordinary, everyday materials best, believing they left more room for the imagination.

(Wheriko - Brilliant! 17 May 2019 – 16 February 2020)

Exhibition History